Vail Daily column: Keep those business skis waxed
This ski season started with a fantastic Opening Day by all accounts. The snow was awesome and more terrain was accessible than we have seen in many years. Then we had a lull in snowfall and there were areas that became rocky again before the next dump. This ebb and flow is just as common in our businesses as it is on the slopes. We gear up for the Thanksgiving dash of activity followed by a week or two of quiet sidewalks and empty roundabouts. Then comes the full rush of the Christmas season. The same thing is happening now in January and will happen again in February between holidays.
How do you keep your business ready and maintain profitability through these ups and downs? Well, to use a phrase coined in the Rust Belt, you need to keep your business running like a well-oiled machine. A well-oiled machine can sit idle without getting rusty. It can start back up without undue wear and tear on the parts. But in the mountains we have skiing on our mind, so I suggest you keep your business waxed like a well-tuned pair of skis.
There are many different waxes you can use for your business, but just like your skis, you need to choose the right one for the current conditions. Let’s look at some of the areas you should be tuning.
Advertising: Is your current advertising campaign relevant? Do you have to adjust it for seasonal conditions? Is it targeting the right audience? Are you using a variety of mediums? Are there easy, no-cost, ways to enhance your marketing efforts through your local chamber’s website or newsletter? Now is the time to reach out to see all the chamber has to offer.
Inventory: Do you have the latest styles and trends in stock? If your business doesn’t stock physical items, is your business offering up-to-date goods and services? Are there any out-of-the-box ideas you can implement to showcase your inventory and set you apart from your competition? Experiment a little during the slower times. It never hurts to try.
Employees/staff: Are your folks trained and up to date on products and procedures? Can they answer questions not only about your products and services but about what is happening around town? The latter is extremely important in providing quality customer service in a resort community. Now is the time to check in with your employees to identify what is going well and what areas need improvement.
Accounting: I know, accounting is boring, but without it you really have no way of knowing how your business is doing. Are you using a knowledgeable bookkeeper who knows how to properly enter data and provides useful feedback? Information and understanding is key to financial success. Your bookkeeper is a valued partner; make sure this relationship is healthy.
In order to keep your business tuned, you must monitor these areas and adjust to varying conditions. You should also take advantage of the many support services available to businesses, such as mystery shop programs, walking informational tours and meetings with municipal staff. The Vail Chamber & Business Association can provide support at a nominal cost. Take advantage of discounted group advertising opportunities. Mailing lists and event calendars are also available. These invaluable tools can help you track events and staff your business properly when large crowds are expected. You can also network at annual meetings and after-hours mixers.
If you are not already receiving the Vail Chamber & Business Association e-newsletter, all you need to do is email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start receiving it.
Larry Cavanaugh is president of Centennial Bank in West Vail. He is a Vail Chamber & Business Association board member. For more information, call 970-477-0075 or email email@example.com.