At Inzet, we believe in running a balanced business (and a balanced life). In order to do that, we challenge clients to constantly review and improve their 4-quadrants of business (see below) on a regular basis. Our goal is to help clients live out a life of purpose and integrity (the meaning of the word “Inzet”). Another pillar of the Inzet culture is to develop meaningful and authentic relationships and those relationships start with YOUR team and then expands to your clients. During this time of nationwide fear because of the Coronavirus, it’s a great time to review the “integrity” of YOUR operation by assessing all 4-quadrants. During this unknown season, instead of resorting to FEAR, take the time to sure up the foundation of your organization in all these areas:
- Staff Development Strategies
- Financial Management Strategies
- Client Management Strategies
- Internal Management Strategies
Staff Development Strategy
Invest in Your Team
When you invest in your team during challenging times, they are more likely to be loyal and devoted team members for years to come. Many organizations make such drastic cuts during times of crisis, which sends a message that the team dynamic is the first thing to go when time gets tough. Pull your team together and collaborate on needed cuts…they will be more likely to not only be creative, but be willing to ride out the time of crisis with a better attitude and a team spirit.
An example of this I’ve seen played out is when a team decided to start taking Fridays off, unpaid, instead of one person getting laid off. Get creative. Ask them what they are willing to do.
Financial Management Strategies
With the staff development strategy in mind, use your team to collaborate on cost-cutting strategies like these:
Protect Cash Flow
Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business; to keep your small business healthy, cash needs to continue flowing through. As long as your business exists, you will have expenses. But the harder times get, the harder it can be to keep the cash flowing in. Crisis-proof your business by working with your team to implement strategies to keep cash flowing!
Review Inventory Management Practices
See what can be done to reduce inventory costs without sacrificing the quality of goods or inconveniencing clients. Just because you’ve always done something a certain way, or ordered from a particular supplier doesn’t mean you have to keep doing them that way – especially when those other ways may save you money. Also, look for other sources and build relationships with multiple suppliers so that if one stops shipping to you, you are not stuck.
Don’t Try to Save Money by Cutting Back on Marketing
In lean times, many businesses make the deadly mistake of cutting their marketing budget to the bone or even eliminating it entirely. But, lean times are when you need marketing the most. During crisis, consumers are restless and looking to make changes in their buying decisions, so this is the time that you need to help them find your products and services. So don’t quit marketing, step up your efforts.
Client Management Strategies
Do Not Be Reliant on Just One Big Customer
If you haven’t diversified, a time of crisis is the time to do it! What if you lose your biggest and best client? Where will you be? Now is the time to ensure you have a great variety of clients and a decent number of clients. So while it is important to diversify clients, it is equally important to keep your core customers very happy. Make sure you do not increase your number of clients to the point where you can no longer keep them all extremely happy. This way you’ll get on-going referrals that will not dry up as a result of a downturn in the economy.
Make the Most of Your Current Customers
How can you make changes that will keep those current clients extremely happy? If you do nothing else but go over and above for those current clients to keep them coming back. Start asking them to also refer you business. This is the best kind of marketing – having your existing clients spread the good word about your amazing business. Collaborate with your team to come up with creative customer service tactics that will make you stand apart from your competition. These creative ideas that are birthed during crisis can be the standard operating procedures for the future. In fact, you should collaborate with your team at least once a month in the future to continue to develop creative customer service strategies!
Internal Management Strategies
Focus on Core Competencies
Look at your company offerings as a team and decide what is the most profitable and what is the most wasteful and focus where you make your most money. Your team will LOVE this exercise as it will cut much of this stress and add to the bottom line. Go back to basics and focus on your core competencies in your business. It’s better to focus on one thing and do that one thing extremely well than to try to do many things mediocre. This is always true, but often in an economic downturn, we feel we should take ANY job just to have work, and then we end up promising more than we should, and then end up either getting a job that’s not as profitable, or we find we can’t complete it with the desired quality needed. Keep doing what you are great at, and you will get more jobs as a result.
Measure the Results of Your Marketing
This is something you should be doing whether there is a crisis or not! In the next month, I will be sharing a blog on measuring everything. In order to know what success is, you need to define it and then measure it, so you know what works. When you KNOW what works, you WON’T cut back on it. If you have done a great job with your marketing, and have a sound marketing plan, this is not the time to cut it.