It is not a time to cut back completely, but it is certainly a time to have a heightened awareness and a proactive approach to dealing with warning signs. Conversely, you don’t want to be seen as giving off these signs either.
My good friend and fellow supporter of artists, Dick Harrsion, suggested the idea for this post to me a few weeks ago. Because there has been so much bad news in the ensuing weeks, I've held off publishing it so as not to add to the negativity in the news today.
It's gotten so bad now there are many people I know who don't read the paper or watch the news. The steady drumbeat of downer information can "Harsh Your Mellow" as a stoned surfer might put it. Still, if you are in business, you need to know what is happening. Being oblivious is not going to help you avoid getting burned by what is going on.
Dick, for those of you who may not have been introduced to him, is a former professional independent art rep and a consummate artist himself. He worked the southeast territory, primarily Florida. Upon his retirement, he came out with some of the best information for artists I've seen in a long time. They are in the form of podcasts he produced. You can avail yourself of his wisdom at: www.SalesTipsforArtists.com. This compilation of thoughts, suggestions, observations and facts is useful for any artist serious about their career. (Ed. note: Since the original post, I have learned the link to Dick's Web site is displaying HTML. Until it is fixed, you can access all Dick's podcasts, including his fiction and limericks on the Talk Shoe podcast network. Be sure to turn to Page 2 as there is worthy information on it as well.)
WARNING SIGNS YOUR CLIENT, CUSTOMER OR BUYER MAY BE HAVING “PROBLEMS.”
● Phone calls, emails or faxes aren’t acknowledged or returned promptly
● Websites are not updated with new material regularly
● Posted client lists remain static or outdated – no new listings
● Frequent staff or responsibility changes
● Shrinking sales staff or personnel
● Delivery and / or payments slow down
● A decline in advertising or publicity for the company
● Events such as seminars, “mixers” or invitationals aren’t happening as before
● Branches or satellite locations are closed
● Rumors circulate in the “trade” – other suppliers ask about your experience
Dick suggests to be on the lookout for any of these signs among companies and individuals you are dealing with. You don't have to jump ship at first notice, but being aware should make you more cautious in your dealings. If you notice such signs, you should take steps to cut your own financial or professional exposure.
Some things you can do are:
● Cut down on inventory
● Reduce the time allowed for payments
● Lower the amount you will put on credit, and so forth.
Mainly, be prudent. It is not a time to cut back completely, but it is certainly a time to have a heightened awareness and a proactive approach to dealing with warning signs. Conversely, you don't want to be seen as giving off these signs either. Use them to check your own behavior and actions so you don't accidentally make yourself the target of a supplier's suspicions about your business.