As business owners, it can be difficult to predict the future. And sometimes we’re even blessed with a sudden, unexpected boost in sales, especially when your business becomes a viral hit.
While you can be aware of your current sales pattern, you need to prepare for circumstances you might not see coming. Knowing how to handle a dramatic increase in sales can keep your customers happy, returning, and spreading the word.
On the other hand, you don’t want to spend money unnecessarily if sales decline, especially when you’re figuring out what are peak times of year for your start up’s sales. Whether your business is a viral sensation or the latest summer craze, there are ways you can postpone making major purchase decisions and keep your orders fulfilled easily and quickly.
1. You Have to Plan Ahead
The best business people know their businesses inside and out. They can tell you how their warehouse workers would respond to a 50% increase in sales versus a 90% increase in sales. Be one of these business owners. Anticipate what your business needs if sales increase or decline and make your process scalable.
First, you should devise a logistics plan for maximum rapid growth. Then you should project how to react to a sudden fall in sales. Does your process work for both? If it doesn’t, can you adjust it so that it does? If you’re not sure, find a trustworthy, experienced business consultant.
2. Don’t Forget About the Back-End
When it comes to jumps in sales, many business owners overlook the back-end. Don’t make this mistake. You need to know if your website can handle a rapid flood of web traffic. Does your invoicing system work if your sales multiply?
Don’t ignore your shipping and return strategy. Believe it or not, but reverse logistics can turn an unsatisfied customer to a loyal patron. Find out why your customer returned the product and always encourage a solution.
Keep your back-end systems organized and everything else will run smoother. Use your logistics plan to ensure everything falls into place. Then make sure your business follows the plan so if you need to scale, you can.
3. Think Beyond the Box
From Elisha Otis, a doll maker turned elevator mogul, to Henry Ford, the most successful business people think differently. And with 21st-century customers demanding the same shipping and speed as Amazon, you have to accommodate to fit these needs if sales skyrocket.
If you deliver locally, you will probably need to increase your vehicle fleet. Instead of buying new cars, rent fleet vehicles you can put vehicle magnets on. This will help you fulfill deliveries without keeping your customers waiting and buy you time before you know if sales will level out or return to their previous rate.
Another option many entrepreneurs don’t consider is outsourcing. While outsourcing may seem like an odd choice, it can help you curb the chaos of sales. Outsourcing can also provide you with those precious weeks or months you need to see if the sales will fizzle out.
4. Say “Okay” to Overtime
It can be difficult to hire reliable employees in a time crunch. And you may not need them long term. While you’re waiting to see if you need to permanently increase your workforce, allow your current employees to accrue some overtime.
Many employees would like the opportunity to earn a little extra income while demonstrating their dedication to your company. While you will want a plan and policy in place, this scenario also allows you to see how your employees respond to pressure.
5. Temporary Workers Make a Temporary Situation Run Smoother
The sales are pouring in. You’re flooded with invoices. You’re unsure how steady this increase will be. Hiring temporary workers can help handle the deluge of orders and save you money.
Turn a temporary solution into longterm potential. A temporary employee can demonstrate their skill set without the commitment of hiring them fulltime. If you fall for an employee’s work ethic and ability, you can always make them a longterm job offer.
Use a hiring service or app to save you time and keep your hiring process streamlined and organized.
As a start up, you should be thrilled if you see a jump in sales, but don’t let your success turn into a setback by not preparing to handle it. Always have a plan and don’t be afraid to analyze your process.
Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Yahoo Small Business.