We have even seen shortages in equipment, inks, t-shirts…. its touched everything.
Well, we have a formula we have learned from MANY successful businesses on how YOU can deal with this, and be more successful than ever.
Talking to customers
The first thing to address is you are going to find a product you need is out of stock. It might not be today, it might be next year, but it will happen.
Prepare your customers – if you have regular customers, let them know. He normally orders this shirt, it’s been fine, but I’ve heard rumors. I want to let you know this might not happen, but could.
“I’m sure you’ve heard the news about the “chip” shortage, shipping container shortage, etc. – Well, those things are hitting the apparel industry in a big way too”
Have a plan – if your normal shirt ever runs out, can we discuss 2 back ups. Again, I don’t expect them to be out, but I want to make sure we are prepared. How about A or B as a back up?
If you normally keep 30 days of stock… keep 60. If you have the cash flow, just be prepared. You don’t have to go crazy and hoard things, that just makes things worse. However, there is a time when it’s ok to safeguard your business with proper stock. Honestly, if you were going to run out of inventory in 30 days of something that doesn’t expire, you probably needed to fix that anyway.
While this is on your mind, check your inventory. Ink, paper, cleaning supplies, tools, replacement parts.
If you usually use a X-2000 shirt, be prepared that you might need to use the Y-2002 shirt. It might happen, and if you are prepared it won’t take you by surprise.
Practice on some new shirts, and get a feel for what your customers might like. This way if shirt X runs out or back orders, you aren’t scrambling, you are prepared to use shirt Y
Start being a salesperson
If someone calls asking for a particular shirt, hat, etc…. and it’s back ordered, SELL them on something else. Let them know why this other option is a GREAT alternative. Maybe it’s a better deal, or a higher quality or something all together different.
Don’t just say “sorry out of stock” … say, “Well good and bad news. That one is out, but I have something even better”
Expand your offering
If you are noticing product X is getting weird in inventory, start thinking about other things you can sell. Maybe you normally only sell hats and hoodies, start selling t-shirts.
You may have never made a mug before, so get a mug press and start offering this.
Your strength can be in the diverse products you offer. When a shirt goes on back-order, you have a hat that’s flourishing in sales.
No matter what, you shouldn’t give up. It’s going to be a challenge with inventory for a while, be prepared. Mentally prepare yourself for issues like this for the next year and you will come out on top!