Applying Valuable Lessons
Learned from the New Economy
Jeremy Burkhardt (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of SpeakerCraft in
If you are like most people, then you are
working twice as hard for half the money,
and it doesn’t seem to be getting much
better. If you are reading this, I am going
to make the gross assumption that you
are still in business and have weathered
one of the toughest economic times in our
country’s history (and it’s not over yet).
Most dealers that I know have had
to lay off employees, find new ways to
get business, don’t have the same credit
lines or cash flow, and have had to take a
pay cut. On the upside, you have earned
a virtual MBA in a very short time, and
these tough lessons have made you a better
businessperson for the rest of your life.
It’s All About Profits
The best way to stay in business is by
selling superior products for higher margin and providing a better value to
the consumer. Anyone can make and provide either cheap or overpriced
products and adequate service. You must constantly differentiate yourself
with better products, better quality of installation,
and better after-the-sale support. All of these things
come at a higher price.
Know Your Value Proposition
You should always provide better sound and video
quality, systems that are easier to operate, cleaner
installations, a relationship based on integrity and
an overall better value. You decide what the value
differentiators are and highlight them as you present
your proposal to the client, including your install
process, your forward commitment, and a serious
The author is currently mentoring Brandon Beaudoin, owner of Riverside Ski & Sport, by
helping him generate cash flow with discounts on product, mailing past clients, asking
the landlord for a rent reduction, and getting vendors to give better terms.
Remember that you set the level of profit that you
want to hit. You choose the staff and what they get paid. You decide on
your building, your demo facility, and your vehicles, and you determine
all expenses. If things cost too much, make cuts now.
If you have to be your own best salesman to survive, then do it. Make
the hard choices so that you can continue be a great service provider to
your clients and a great provider for your family. Remember that your
client’s trust and your desire to please them should always come first, both
consciously and subconsciously.
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If you’re a good salesman, then you should do what you say that
you’re going to do, and your service and finished product should be
better than what the customer expected. In this economy you must
find new clients anywhere that money exists, from car show rooms to
I am currently mentoring a skate, urban wear, and snowboard shop.
I had the local BMW dealer agree to provide every client that purchased
a new car with a coupon to the shop for a free gift and a discount. I
also advised the shop’s owner on other ways to generate cash flow with
discounts on product, mailing past clients, asking the landlord for rent
reduction, and getting vendors to give better terms.
You, however, can’t depend on anyone to help you. You have to
constantly get referrals from every client and market yourself in the
community. Don’t get trapped behind your desk,
because business occurs outside and not in your
office. Go find the clients and use print materials,
promotions, and technology to hook them.
You already have survived a very tough time.
Now go prove that you are worthy of that survival.
Being slow and conservative isn’t for you or for now.
Now is the
time to rise up
and go create
There must be urgency in your vocabulary
and your actions. If you
have to bust out all the old files from
past clients and call everyone and
offer a personal visit to check out
their system and make recommendations,
do it. Do whatever it takes
to make business happen.