Managing Through the Curve
Managing through a crisis can be like driving in the fog — it’s very difficult to have clarity, depth perception, and to confirm that you’re on the right path. It’s times like this that teamwork, communication, and entrepreneurial adrenaline play a major role in helping to guide you through the curve.
The soundness of your financial plan will go a long way in helping you stay in the game. Face it, without cash, the best ideas will never see the light of day. As far as managing payroll, businesses seem to be straddling the line between keeping just enough people in place for the work that exists and managing their COVID-19 funding forgiveness. Some have received short term waivers on loans, rent, etc., which is helping a great deal as well. Difficult decisions may come when your additional funding runs out and your customers are not back to work yet.
Your outlook for the business determines which end of the planning spectrum you are on. And as cloudy as it can be, you do need to have an outlook or a projection based on the intelligence available to you. Some say it’s too hard to get a sales number that is any good. I get it, but you have to try, and then you adjust as you learn more. Doing this means engaging your customers to find out what their plans are, when they feel they might emerge, and what strategies will they use, or should they use, to reconnect with their customers. Good information will help you understand, at least for today, the rate and pace of your existing customers re-entry into the marketplace. Many businesses have been fortunate in that their customers have not really slowed much. We see this in pharmaceuticals, food packaging, signage and other sectors that may not have been as affected by this health crisis.
How will you be a better company coming out of this situation than you were going in? I have been echoing this statement for a while, prodding those who need it to effectively be working on their business so that they are a smarter, faster, and more agile business going forward. It’s not about taking unnecessary risks, if nothing else, work at implementing all the best practices that you had already identified but not yet put into place. Work at integrating the technology into your workflow that you’ve already paid for but have yet to install, or provide the training for. This is about doing the little things that collectively can make a big difference in how your customers view you. It also affects your ability to be as efficient as you can be at processing the work and minimizing unnecessary costs that add no value.
This falls under the chapter of “leave no stone unturned.” Many of your customers will resume their marketing initiatives at some point. Some will do it sooner than others, and some may take quite some time to get back into play. Unfortunately, some may not come back at all. I bring this up as only waiting for your existing clients to get back up to speed may not be a good enough strategy. Engage with your clients and help them brainstorm ways that they can effectively re-enter the market. Be that trusted advisor that they really need right now and they will find a way to connect with you. If you are simply asking to quote on things — good luck.
Expanding Your Tent
I’m not sure anyone knows what the future will bring, and I would hedge my bets that I’d need more customers going forward. That means expanding your tent and reaching out to inactive prospects that have been on your list for a while and also to those organizations that you believe will thrive within your market area. The tactics you use will be important and will drive your opportunities for success. This isn’t just about making cold calls and trying to knock on doors. Your ability to just “get in front of somebody“ will be hampered by folks working from home and social distancing.
Your company will need a solid business development plan that most likely will include creating and sharing content via video, podcasts, and blogs. Take a hard look at your sales team and evaluate the tools they have at their disposal, and their skills in using them — particularly as it involves social media. Determine where your gaps are and help them so that your company has its best opportunity to win more business.
There will be good opportunities for your business going forward, but they may not look like what you’ve seen in the past. You’ll need a sharp set of tools to be effective at winning new business. Keep working on being better at leading, communicating, planning, execution, marketing and sales. Don’t take anything for granted and don’t become complacent. This will be a unique opportunity to capitalize on your experience and earn the business that you’ve worked hard for all these years.
I welcome any thoughts or questions, please add them below or reach out to me directly.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic counsel, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.