“Normal Business Operations” is not a term you hear today or for that matter may not hear any time in the foreseeable future. Whether this change is short or long term remains to be seen. Trying to offer advice on something we have never been through seems impossible. My best guesses should not be taken as best business practices for anyone. I am certainly not an authority on the subject but thought I could share some of what we have done that seems to help and at the minimum set the expectation for our customers and our team.
The goal is for you to find something of value, some “nugget”, to help your business succeed.
1. Remember What is Important.
The health and safety of all. Think about it, people are what matters. Sure, the financial health of your business could be keeping you awake at night after all, this is your “baby/family”. Some businesses may not make it, but you are doing everything you can to keep your head above water, remember that. Give yourself some grace. Give your team and customers some grace, be flexible when possible. Use technology to stay connected to your team and to your customers! We can help you with this. You need them, and they need you. Do everything in your power to keep your team healthy and when this crisis is over, you can all get back to work at 100%. Together you are better and stronger.
2. Keep the Communication Flowing
Everyone has questions. Customers are wondering if/when they can get what they need. Let them know about your supply chain, your inventory level, what delays can be expected. Set realistic expectations, be honest. Somethings are simply out of your control, pass that information along. If you need help with communications and staying connected remotely, we can help. We are all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat. Remember to be empathetic, patient, and above all kind?.
3. Re-think your Customer Support Plan
I think the biggest worry is the uncertainly, I know it is for me. Can we get what we need from suppliers to market in a timeframe that will satisfy the needs of our clients? How does the supply chain breakdown? Pay attention to the morale of your clients and do your best to reassure them you are doing everything you can to alleviate the pressure they are feeling. Again, honesty is the best policy. People want you to be realistic, so under promise and overdeliver!
4. Be realistic about your Sales Goals
This one might hurt. We all want to grow. This year is GOING to be different. Sales might be up for some and down for others. Accept that your projections may need to change. KPI’s and goals that you set last year might look different now. Know what you are working with, look at your bottom line, and then you can make the necessary budget changes now vs later in the year. If business is down, do not bury your head in the sand and hope for the best. Think outside the box! What are your strengths? How can those benefit your current and potential customers? Are there products or services you could offer that you have not done before, but make sense in the current climate? Ask your best customers and suppliers to brainstorm ideas with you. People want others to succeed too.
5. Have Faith
This can be the hardest part. I say this to my wife often when I feel that I cannot control everything. Sometimes you must let go and have faith. You have poured your heart into your business. You have prepared to the best of your ability. Have Faith, you did everything you could. Look around for opportunities to pay it forward if you are doing well. Giving back not only helps others, it helps you, especially if you can find a way to do it together.
We appreciate our customers, vendors, friends and family. Our wish is that we come out of this with business being anything but usual. We know things are not like they once were, but our hope is to return to better than they once were, it is all in how you define better.
We wish for better than usual!