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How to Manage Unexpected Business Demand

A sudden flood of sales seems like a good problem to have, but figuring out how to manage rapid business growth isn’t always easy. Your business can quickly become overwhelmed, and you might struggle with making the best decisions to grow sustainably. Learn how rapid growth can affect your business and how you can manage it effectively.

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Pros of fast business growth

Sudden increased customer demand brings to mind visions of dollar signs, but increased cash flow isn’t the only good thing that comes out of rapid growth. Some pros of rapid growth include:

  • Larger customer base: The rapid growth means you’re gaining new customers, who often remain loyal, repeat customers if you provide them with a good experience. This can help you have increased sales long term.
  • Chance to adapt: Sudden growth is an opportunity to reinvent yourself, improve as a company or shift your focus.
  • Improve security: Increased demand gives you better security for your company.
  • Influential position: Rapid growth helps improve brand recognition and positions your company as a leader in the field. This can help with continued growth and allow you to be influential in your industry.

Cons of fast business growth

It’s also important to be prepared for the cons of fast business growth. Having more customers can put a strain on your current system since you’re used to operating at a lower capacity. Being aware of the problems can help you overcome them.

Potential drawbacks of unexpected customer demand include:

  • Difficulty delivering: When you have a sudden increase in customer demand, it’s often difficult to keep up using only your current staff and resources. This can delay deliveries or simply leave some people without the products they want, which can reflect poorly on your business.
  • Staffing issues: Trying to keep up with increased demands can leave your staff feeling overwhelmed and stressed. If you add to your staff, it can take several weeks to find candidates and get them working. Sometimes it can be difficult to find employees with the qualifications you need.
  • Decreased quality: Rushing to get orders completed can lead to decreased quality. You might miss important steps to speed up the process, or you might miss quality assurance opportunities and send out products that don’t meet your standards.
  • Lower profits: More sales seems like a good thing for your profits, but keeping up with the demands can cost you more money. You might have to pay employees overtime, pay hiring costs to add staff or pay for expedited shipping on your materials to keep up with the demands.
  • Negative customer experiences: As you figure out how to manage rapid business growth, you might have a period where customers don’t get the best service. Orders might be late. They might have difficulty reaching customer service. You might not have as much time to devote to customers. Those experiences can lead to negative reviews and cause customers to stop buying from you.

How to manage rapid business growth

Figuring out how to manage rapid business growth takes a calculated approach to maintain quality while meeting the higher demands. Strong leadership is key to navigating the new business territory. Try these tips to keep up with unexpected business demands.

Have a growth plan

Plan for future growth, even if you’re already in the midst of rapid growth. Understand what capacity you can handle with your current staffing in your current facility. Decide when you’ll need a new location or new employees. This can help you look for signs and be prepared for change.

Look at the reason for rapid growth

Why is your business suddenly growing? Maybe you have a viral social media post, or you had a targeted marking campaign that was more successful than anticipated. A local news station or influencer might have mentioned you. Perhaps your latest product launch was a huge success.

Knowing why you’re suddenly experiencing increased demand helps you better understand your customers. This can help you shape the customer experience to make it positive. Understanding the growth also makes it easier to sustain the increased sales because you can repeat the trigger.

Maintain your core values

Keep your company’s core values and your customers as your priority. It’s tempting to push them aside temporarily to satisfy the demand and keep sales high. But abandoning the most important things about your business can hurt your reputation and cause sales to drop over time.

For example, you might normally commit to using sustainable materials, having as little waste as possible and keeping your carbon footprint low. If demand suddenly increases, you might be tempted to use cheaper materials that are easy to get, or you might change your processes to speed up production, which causes more emissions or increases waste. Giving up sustainable practices can drive away some customers who use your company because of those values or leave you feeling bad about your decisions.

Pause and regroup

If you’re overwhelmed with orders and you can’t keep up, consider pausing or slowing down and regrouping. If you sell a product, you might offer presales for the next wave or limit how many you sell to maintain your current production levels for now. If you offer a service, create a waiting list for new clients so you have their contact information when you’re ready to take on new clients.

This brief regrouping period lets you analyze the situation and figure out how you can keep up with higher production levels. You can scale your facility, hire necessary staff and slowly ramp up to higher production levels at a sustainable pace.

Reduce your options

If you can’t keep up with the new demand, review your offerings to determine if some should be dropped. It could be a low-end product with low profit margins, a service that attracts the wrong type of clients, the most time-consuming product or your least popular option. By eliminating the problem options, you can focus more on your profitable options that are easier to sustain.

Hire cautiously

A common solution for how to manage rapid business growth is hiring additional staff, but you don’t want to rush into new hires. First, make sure the growth is expected to continue to justify hiring a full-time employee instead of outsourcing some things or hiring temp workers.

When you’re sure you’re ready to hire, determine which new positions are most critical and will help meet the increased demands most effectively. Define qualifications for those positions, and wait to hire until you find someone who’s a good fit. Hiring the wrong person can lead to poor quality, customer service issues and increased costs due to poor performance.

Be flexible

You know your current processes work at your normal production level, but those methods might not be sustainable at higher levels. Being flexible with how you handle every aspect of your business can help you adapt and better accommodate the growth.

For example, perhaps you have an email address and a phone number to handle customer questions and support requests. With increased demand for your products or services, you’ll likely also have more customer inquiries and support needs. You might need to add a chatbot on your website and establish a formal help desk ticket system to manage the incoming customer requests.

Look for ways to streamline and improve your current processes to adapt to the influx of business. That might mean automating processes, expanding the production line, updating your equipment or adjusting the duties of your employees.

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