The Economy and Your Business Model: What’s the Connection and What to Do About It?
You’ve never seen anything like this economic and social environment before. None of us have. It’s all way too weird and, whatever it is, it’s happening way faster than we’re used to- though it has happened before. “Predicting is hard. Especially about the future.” I think Yogi was right. What are these conditions and how do you position yourself to survive them? They are not what you hear in the mainstream media and on the nightly news. Let’s get some uncomfortable truths on the table and talk about what we can do.
Jeff has been involved in the active outdoor industry since 1991 as a manager, consultant, analyst and investor. He received his MBA in finance and international business from the Wharton School and spent some years in international banking, corporate development, consulting and turnaround management. In 1991, he walked into Nitro Snowboard’s U.S. distributor in a three piece suit. The suit lasted about a day and a half.
As Nitro’s President, Jeff helped to rationalize the company, raise some capital and ultimately sell it. In the process, he wrote an article for Transworld Snowboarding Business. That article evolved into the well-received Market Watch column that has run continuously since 1995.
As a consultant working with industry companies with issues of transition, an analyst, and an observer of industry trends Jeff has kept retailers and brands ahead of the curve so that they could make inevitable industry evolution work for them.
At the peak of the snowboarding industry in the mid-90s, he explained what the trends in the industry would be as it matured and consolidated.
As early as 2004, he was recommending that retailers focus on inventory turn and gross margin dollars rather than sales growth and gross margin percentage.
In 2008, he warned that the debt caused recession was going to impact the industry for a long time, and that the large sales increases the industry had become used to were going to be hard to achieve. He suggested that growth in profitability would require a focus on expense management, and inventory and distribution.
By 2010 he was high lighting the relationship between good systems and successful brand positioning and management. He sees inventory management and distribution as critical to brand building.
Around 2012 he started suggesting that an industry with limited product differentiation would be a hard place for public companies that require regular quarterly revenue growth to compete.
Currently, he’s wondering what, exactly, “omnichannel” means and how ecommerce and brick and mortar sales support or detract from each other. And he’s trying to figure out how to run a business when the only thing the customer needs you for is to make the product. What’s the source of brand differentiation?