Marketing Mastery: Eliminate the ‘feast or famine’ cycle

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October 12/19; Volume 30/Number 8

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(First of three parts)

Business is slow, so you launch advertising campaigns and promotions and work your tail off, hustling to get more traffic through your door. The next thing you know you’re so swamped you can’t keep up with the orders. You stop doing the things that brought in those customers because you’re so busy running around putting out fires. Now you’re stressed out, working nights and weekends. Your spouse files a missing persons report. You have to pull up photos on your smartphone to remind yourself what your kids look like. You wish for a break.

Then your wish comes true and you get a nice, long break because your customers vanish like a burp in the breeze. Your showroom is as quiet as a graveyard at midnight. This calm feeling turns into panic. Once again you launch promotions and start hustling to get new business.

Does this sound familiar? This is a common state of affairs for many dealers because most have set up their businesses in such a way that they are forced to ride this nauseating up-and-down rollercoaster.

These dealers don’t have an ongoing, dependable marketing system in place to create a steady stream of customers, balance the ups and downs, and bulletproof the business against market downturns. They don’t have a delegation system in place, which translates to a spike in their personal workloads whenever there is a spike in business. They work longer hours, nights and weekends, and run around with their hair on fire trying to handle it all themselves until the spike turns into a dip. Then they panic from the lack of business.

Ironically, an improving economy can make this problem worse. When the economy picks up, rather than leverage this into a permanently higher level of revenue, most dealers burn themselves out trying to stay caught up and then sink back to their old revenue level once the boom is over. There is no permanent gain. This is because most dealers do not own their businesses; the businesses own them.

This problem isn’t eliminated simply because a dealer generates millions of dollars in revenue. I worked with a retailer who made several million dollars annually and paid himself a personal salary of $400,000. But he worked six to seven days a week, never took vacations, rarely spent time with his two daughters and was totally burnt out. In spite of having a generous income, the business still owned him. He was what I refer to as a “successful slave.” Within three coaching calls I showed him how to reduce his workload to 40 hours per week or less (no weekends) and take time away from the business. That year he took his daughters on a vacation to Disney World.

In other words, in order to become a successful dealer with an ideal business as well as an ideal lifestyle, generating more money is important but it’s only half the recipe for success. You’ve got to have systems in place that create freedom for you so you can enjoy that extra money. Again, it is the difference between owning your business and your business owning you.

So how can a dealer leverage seasonal ups and downs or an overall improvement in the economy into a permanently higher level of revenue? I’ll cover that in detail in part two.

For in-depth training on eliminating the “feast or famine” cycle, be sure to attend the Retail Profit Explosion Boot Camp on Nov. 5 at The International Surface Event (TISE) East in Orlando. For a sneak peak video, visit

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