How many times have you heard this lately: “Wow, flat is good”? In fact we have heard it said that sales being “flat” is actually “up,” especially when compared to many businesses today.
Over 33 years ago when I started into business at Nashville Wraps I hardly knew which way was up. My dad, who was both my antagonist and mentor, told me something I have never forgotten. It is still good advice today. He said, “Keep sales moving up, because just being flat is really going backwards.”
Over the course of the past year we have been talking about the changes in business and society. Our blogs The New Normal and the more recent New Normal goes to market tell in part that business is going through an adjustment phase which is redefining what “normal” is. One of the prominent vendors at the Atlanta Market told me that showroom traffic was down at least 20% and that “20% is the new flat”, according to show management (he said with a smirk). He also said that that for most people flat is really good, although every fiber of salesmanship inside us doesn’t agree…But, “It is what it is.” Or is it?
Show Traffic: As you would expect, traffic at the Atlanta Gift Show was down compared to a year ago and certainly two years ago. There were telltale, obvious signs, like no waiting for elevators, registration desks with few people registering, short or no lines at the food vendors, and the ability to actually walk at a regular stride as opposed to baby steps while turning sideways. But the the buyers in attendance came to buy and are preparing themselves for an improved holiday season this year.
Positive Momentum: That said, there was a lot of positive momentum building at the show. The question we get asked often is, “How’s business?”; facts are that we are up and had a great show in Atlanta… had a good one in Dallas, and in New York too. I just can’t shake what my dad told me long ago and neither can those of us who work together and make Nashville Wraps what it is today.
New Products: One of my industry friends and associates asked me, “Man…do you ever sleep?” I asked, “What do you mean?” He responded, “You guys have been introducing a ton of new products all year.” And indeed we have. It is a part of not being flat. We have added new products, created new designs, and made new partnerships, and will continue to do so. See our New Products at Nashville Wraps. Our 2009 Holiday Line has frankly been a show stopper, thanks to our world class research and development team.
Opportunity Knocks: No matter which region you live in, a show is an opportunity. It is a place where aspiring new companies come to exercise their entrepreneurial talents and meet their ultimate judge and jury…the professional retailer. It is an opportunity for us as well, to we meet new people and strengthen ties with existing customers and vendors. But more importantly, it is where we come to spot trends, make strategies, form alliances and adjust our thinking, all to accomplish one thing: to do better than “flat.” To this end we have succeeded.
There is a post-it note on my computer screen. I put it there back in January. It says, “Find out what customers need and deliver it to them.” There are many reasons that Nashville Wraps can still find positive sales trends in a down market. (See Don’t just survive…prosper). I believe you can too, because you are still in charge of your own fate in business.