Despite as much as all the media commentators like to report doom and gloom, the message I’m getting from actual shops and woodworking manufacturers I talk to around the country is that things are looking up. I’m hearing decidedly fewer complaints about lack of business. There is a renewed optimism and more talk of future growth instead of just getting by.

This is all to the good, but none of us can afford to be complacent. Now don’t get me wrong. I am NOT recommending you take a wait-and-see attitude. Growth breeds growth. You can’t make progress by standing still. Now is the time to be thinking about how to move forward.

Put efficiency to work 

Likely you’ve done a lot of soul searching during the down times, trying to find every ounce of efficiency in your operation. Now is the time to use that efficiency to energize your operation for something better. Can you develop a new product line? How about entering a new market?

Just as the recession cut back on regular work and likely changed the way you did business, it also changed the buying habits of consumers, perhaps permanently. As the economy improves, don’t expect your customers to be throwing money at you willy nilly. You need to redouble your efforts to convince them of the value you provide and reinforce the reasons why it is worth paying for.

And if you are thinking about expansion or more efficiency improvements, now is an especially good time to put those plans into action. Machinery dealers and potential employees are still very hungry. Make your deals and boost your team. The sooner you put improvements into place, the farther ahead of your competition you will be as the recovery brings more customers into the market.

Come back to the show 

We are in the early stages of planning for the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta in August, and you should be, too. A number of important suppliers who have opted out of the big shows during the downturn have announced they are coming back to IWF in force. It should be a strong show and a great opportunity for you to find the information, services and products you need to be competitive or dominate your improving market.

The key thing is to get out of your shop and back into the center of the industry. Let’s share our optimism and enthusiasm, which will in turn generate more optimism and enthusiasm. That energy can help you sell, too. Customers who are uncertain about spending on a big project need to feel your confidence and excitement for it. It’s time to make our own energy, no matter what the pundits and commentators are saying!

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.