Now it’s time to bite the bullet

Now it’s time to bite the bullet

Donna Myers, April 1, 2010

In recent months you have taken to heart the advice that this slower economy is a good time to re-evaluate your own business practices.

According to media reports, the economy is still weak, it is strengthening slowly or we can expect the present state to continue for the foreseeable future. While accurate predictions are difficult to come by, we know consumers are still very cautious in their buying and most business are cautious in hiring or expanding. Everyone hopes the economy is improving and wishes it were at a faster pace.

The HPBExpo in Orlando certainly seemed smaller than last year, but seemingly exhibitors were pleased that those buyers who attended were there to do business, so they felt the show was worthwhile.

It was heartening to see separate display sections for new products and for green products, since both indicate forward thinking and optimism.

Charcoal grills again show signs of growth and smokers remain strong. In fact, there were even more new kamado cookers exhibited this year than last.

The electric grill segment is also growing. It demonstrates good use of technology to make this method of cooking competitive with gas and charcoal in cooking performance.

There seemed to be a significant increase in hearth products, which appeared to dominate the show for both indoor and outdoor appliances.

There was visible enthusiasm from attendees, despite some exceptionally soggy days in which the rain came down in buckets — making traffic at outdoor exhibits scarce for all but the hardiest.

If you spent the last few months re-evaluating your business, it’s now time for the rubber to meet the road.

If you streamlined the products you are carrying, added some promising new ones to give your customers something innovative to consider and better balanced your line, it’s time to turn your attention to your store.

We still think lifestyle displays are most effective. Knowing a few categories are strong, why not also group grill accessories with those portable grills to take on the road? Try a group of smokers for the committed barbecuer, etc., so that once you get a customer interested in a category direction you need not distract them by moving all over the store to look at different brands or models.

Then train your staff to take advantage of this arrangement to more quickly pin down the customer’s primary interest and quickly close the sale.

This is the time for bold signage to delineate each of these categories so shoppers know where they should spend their time according to their interests.

Each section should have some key accessories to boost impulse sales and certainly some cookbooks that follow the themes of cooking on the go, tailgating, smoking or whatever they choose at the time.

Since accessories often crossover from one category of cooking to another, have a central display to appeal to general cooking interests, such as: Plank cooking adds unbeatable flavor or grill veggies for healthy and delicious eating.

You might also carve out a space for a Green Grilling display with products, accessories, cleaning aids and other products that generally fit into the eco-friendly category. Most everyone is interested these days in how to do their part to save our natural resources.