Success in Tough Times

Success during tough times often comes from decisions made long before there’s any realization of a downturn. However, there are certainly things you can do to gain an upper hand when you’re already ankle deep. Perhaps these ideas are already common with your organization. Hopefully, they are still a good reminder.

First is to focus your efforts on the things that drive in profit. Working your knuckles to the bone on an inefficient machine can waste time that could be done on something more profitable and stresses your workforce which can have many negative effects. Keeping your newest, most efficient machine humming at top speed will reduce your workload.

Always believe in the product your selling. Be honest with yourself about your product. Don’t flip flop products and manufactures, customers can pick up on this and see you as unstable, unreliable, or both. Try not to be too many things to too many people.

Maintaining strong relationships with vendors is a great entry into new accounts. There’s much to be said about networking but working closely with vendors as well as customers can bring great payback in ways you would never expect. We have a great relationship with our vendors and customers thus providing a strong economical relationship.

Keeping a strong and knowledgeable staff is vital to every company. Keeping the sales department and production departments in close ties creates a “same page” attitude for everybody. This also helps to maintain a high level of expertise that can be shared amongst your workforce. Trading out highly paid experts for some lower cost employees may seem lucrative in the short term but the loss of valuable knowledge in your field and blows to morale can have far worse consequences in the long term. If you need to cut costs consider pay cuts across the board so the burden is shared rather than focused on a few unlucky individuals. Your workforce knows when times are slow and are they are often willing to take a pay cut rather than fear for their job.

Don’t stop marketing! Direct mail, Demo Days and strong web presence are vital tools for the sales department. There is no worse place to cut than the marketing machine that reminds your customers that you exist and keeps broadcasting your message to new prospects. Marketing can be expensive and should always be done under close scrutiny to keep it as efficient as possible but broad cuts can be an unwise choice.

Weekly meetings create a key element in upping the sales each week, exchanging ideas and new sales leads. This also helps to keep your workforce in the loop which can ease worries that cuts may be coming. Try to remain enthusiastic about your work and keep a positive attitude about the future. There is no stronger forecast for a poor future than a pessimistic owner watching quietly over his employees shoulders.

Tough times create tough companies as well as individuals, its not easy staying afloat amongst every other company competing for success. Yet, we all manage to pull through if we maintain a strong plan for everybody. Tough times bring change, often for the better. A downturn in sales can sometimes be a great time to alter your business and bring it back to its core values. Good economic times can hide our weaknesses and allow us to succeed even though we may make mistakes. Try not to fall into the mindset of doing things a certain way just because that’s how you’ve always done it. There may be a better way. The key is to not make too many sweeping changes and never ever abandon your core market, customers, or vendors.

Special thanks to Brit Cary of Challenge Machinery for reminding us of these ideas on how to continue to be successful in today’s market

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