Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sales patterns

If you are in any form of sales, you probably know what I'm talking about. Sales are rolling along nicely and for no particular reason, things seem to come to a screeching halt. Or, on the flip side... the day you are expecting nothing turns out to be one of the biggest sales days of your life!

Over the years, we've attempted to identify what makes the difference and concluded that there absolutely is no rhyme nor reason.

In the shop, the days we assumed everyone would be hunkering down at home, like during a snowstorm or a hurricane(!), it seemed our customers decided our shop would be a good place to spend their time.

One sure thing we did determine was that summer basically meant slow sales and small classes since everyone had other plans. We were sure that everything would pick up as soon as the kids were back at school. No.. apparently there is an adjustment period of about a month before they pick up.

Oh, and "black Friday" in a small shop is not what it is cracked up to be. I remember going in one year, stocked up and raring to go. Bam... nothing! We were so disappointed. In our shop, the real boom time was the last two weeks before Christmas. We made a good percentage of our yearly sales in that very small window, and once we adjusted to it, it was fine.

At shows and at the Ren Faire, we assumed that good weather meant good sales and bad weather meant bad sales... Again, this is not necessarily so. Some of our biggest sales at shows were during really nasty weather. I guess the customers that came out were the serious shoppers and they went from booth to booth, intent on finding what they wanted while staying out of the rain or heat. Good weather allowed a lot of wandering aimlessly (and at the Faire, it meant being able to sit comfortably at the various shows - all wasted "shopping time". Sometimes this still meant good sales, but not always. Again... unpredictable.

When I named my soap company "Lancaster County Soapworks", I was aiming for the large tourist business in our area and it worked out well, but it is very seasonal. Christmas is not big for me... but watch out in the spring and summer.

Now, with the addition of the jewelry business, I find it fascinating that when there is a slump in one, the other picks up. About the time I think I'll never see another order for soap... a jewelry order pops up.. and vice versa.

Oh, and Heaven forbid I should plan a vacation. There's such a rush of orders that I'm sure I won't be able to get everything out before we leave...

It's just another one of those things that defy explanation and my conclusion is that nothing means nothing! No expectations works best for me. That way I am often pleasantly surprised and seldom disappointed.

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