As we head into the fourth quarter (Q4) of the 2016 fiscal year, many businesses are evaluating their budgets—as well as their processes, procedures, and profitability. As you take this time during the current quarter to look ahead and plan for a successful 2017, here are five areas you should consider.
1. Evaluate business processes and personnel with an eye towards making your organization leaner and more effective.
Evaluate your business processes to see areas where you can operate more effectively and more efficiently. The recent Blueprint for Success panel at CEDIA showcased several software tools that can help dealers through every stage of the process, from sales to service. Can you implement inventory software to ensure all parts are loaded onto a truck before a job, minimizing last minute trips to the warehouse or rush-shipping? Can you turn bids into a repeatable process to streamline sales?
You can also evaluate personnel; we’re not talking about making cutbacks. Instead, think about whether you are using employees in ways that highlight their greatest strengths and capitalize on their skills and abilities.
2. Evaluate your product lines to ensure you’re delivering the products your customers want and need.
Do you offer a broad range of products to fit a variety of budgets and your clients’ desires? Can you provide options at low, mid, and high price points for those who just want a system that’s easy to use right up to audiophiles and entertainment enthusiasts with more discerning tastes?
End-of-year is a good time to look at your lines, consider replacing or cutting under-performing brands, and selectively adding new offers to fill any gaps or to meet changing market demands.
3. Consider ways to profit from service contracts and generate recurring monthly revenue.
We’re seeing it in the pages of every audiovisual trade publication: Recurring Monthly Revenue is big. As custom integrators and home technology professionals shift from product sales to service-focused business models, it’s time to consider your service offerings. How do you manage service? Are you billing your customers for truck rolls? How much time and money are you losing on service—and how can you not only make that money up, but actually generate profit through agreements?
Consider outsourcing services with companies that will do the work and share the revenues with you.
4. Evaluate your marketing tactics to do more of what worked in 2017—but be ready to shift gears as technology advances.
Just as you’re looking inside at your internal processes, and outside toward your product offerings, evaluate your consumer facing sales and marketing efforts. Are you spending money on traditional advertising and local outreach? There’s still a place for these time-tested tactics. If you’re getting leads from Lion’s Club meetings, there’s no reason to stop attending. But when was the last time you tracked your leads to determine which marketing, networking, and advertising efforts are worth your time? If it’s been about a year—or even more—evaluate the return-on-investment of your sales and marketing efforts and make modifications where necessary.
5. Embrace digital marketing, social media, and search engine marketing (SEM) in 2017.
The digital revolution is here. If you’re not already using search engine marketing, social media, and mobile advertising to reach your audience, you could be missing out. If you are already ranking in local search and have a strong social presence on networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Houzz, evaluate your efforts—including the tools you use for social media management—to see where you may be able to accomplish more in less time.
If you’re not doing any online outreach, now is definitely the time to start. This may require hiring new personnel or looking to outside agencies. But just as it’s important to choose the right brands for your customers, it’s important to put the right people behind the keyboard to manage your digital marketing strategy.
Embrace the Knowledge of Your Industry Partners
With the wealth of tools available to dealers from organizations like CEDIA, industry buying groups, and even your supply-chain partners, it’s easy to find places to turn when it comes time to implement the changes and improvements you’ve decided upon.
We’re facing an exciting time in the industry, when technology is part of nearly everyone’s life. More consumers are demanding a higher quality experience from the audio visual systems in their homes. If you know how to reach them, you’ll put your company in the right place to grow.