Are you receiving correct information about your market conditions?
It was autumn, and the Indians on the remote reservation asked their new Chief if the winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a new Indian Chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets, and when he looked at the sky, he couldn’t tell what the weather was going to be. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he replied to his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect wood to be prepared.
But, also being a practical leader, after several days he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, “Is the coming winter going to be cold?” “It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed,” the meteorologist at the weather service responded.
So, the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood in order to be prepared. A week later he called the National Weather Service again. “Is it going to be a very cold winter?” “Yes,” the man at National Weather Service again replied, “it’s going to be a very cold winter.”
The Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of wood they could find. Two weeks later he called the National Weather Service again. “Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?” “Absolutely,” the man replied. “It’s going to be one of the coldest winters ever.” “How can you be so sure?” the Chief asked. The weatherman replied, “The Indians are collecting wood like crazy!”
Make sure your information about your market is coming from reliable sources! Do not judge your market conditions only on the conditions of your sales and profits or the news media.
From the book “Bad Business Assumptions,” chapter 28 - “Assuming you don’t need to take the time to listen to others in your industry”:
a. Shop your competition – see how they are doing
b. Talk to your customers about their plans for future purchases
c. Talk to businesses in other industries
d. Talk with and listen to members of your associations
e. Talk and listen to sales representatives
I owned and operated a tire business, electronics business and appliance business and figured if my customers were purchasing tires, electronics and appliances from me they would also purchase other items, such as furniture. So I opened a furniture business. I admit I did not know much, if anything, about running a furniture business, but I thought how much different could it be from the selling I was presently doing?
I built a building, purchased furniture from distributors and manufacturers and began selling furniture. Within four months I realized I was not selling the amounts of furniture I thought we could and should be selling, I figured the market was slow and things would pick up.
Then one day a furniture salesman came in and asked for the owner. I greeted him. I always was eager to talk to every salesman that came by. My father taught me that when you take the time to talk with salespeople in your industry you will learn a lot from them.
The first thing he asked me was, “Who is your furniture buyer?” I replied, “Me.” He then said, “Your favorite color is blue isn’t it?” I said, “Yes, how did you know?” He replied, 89% of the upholstery, (sofa, love seats, chairs) on the floor is blue.
Now the problem was only 20% of the sales of upholstery are in blue colors. I immediately realized the market was not slow, I just did not have the correct mix of colors on my sales floor. Thank goodness I was eager to talk to every sales representative I could. As soon as we got the correct color mix on our floor, our sales zoomed up and we far exceeded our goals.