Friday, October 17, 2008

First Cracks Showing In The Canadian CE?

By: Lee Distad

We all know that a rising tide raises all boats. When the sun is shining on the housing market, you see erst while contractors getting into the business, whether as trades, custom CE installers, or even as homebuilders. But as the saying goes, adversity is a greater teacher than success. As the economy turns, and the housing situation cools off, that’s when we find out who really has their act together, and who was just in it for the short term.

One of the best things about my job is being plugged into dealers and vendors all over Canada and the US, and being able to get a big-picture view of our industry that sometimes challenges what network news tells us. It’s clear when talking to US dealers that the outlook is mixed: while there are plenty of depressed regions, there is still an equal or greater number of areas reporting that they are still doing well. So far, the outlook in Canada has been insulated from much of the gloom in the US, but that could yet change.

Consider this story 1 part schadenfreude, and 2 parts valuable lesson. Word just came to me about a CE integrator in a large Canadian city whose business just went into free fall (don’t bother to email me and ask who and where; I’m not telling). They find themselves in a bind because their sales funnel of new deals has been dried up for six months, and their cash flow is running on the progress payments from existing jobs. If you’re a long time business owner, maybe you’ve been there, and you’re cringing as you read this. I know that I winced more than once as the story was related to me.

That’s not to say that all of us in Canada are doomed. Don’t forget, the plural of anecdote is not data. However, now might be a good time to take a good look at your own company: what does your sales funnel look like? How hard are your sales people prospecting? Are your installers running a tight ship, or is there a lot of slack on the jobsites that needs to be reeled in? Do you even know these answers without having to check?

By the time you see a problem on your QuickBooks, it might be too late. The right time to tidy up your operations is always now.

Bookmark and Share

No comments: