Slowdowns, recessions and economic contractions are words we’re all too familiar with. Whether they’re caused by poor decision making or uncontrollable events, pulling your business through is a big concern. While all businesses might not have the financial capacity or ability to keep working – they are many that do. Here’s some great tips we found on capitalising on a business slowdown:
- Build your efficiency
When business is booming, it undoubtedly becomes more difficult to carry out maintenance and improve operations On any given day, making sure your business runs efficiently is a priority. However, it can be difficult to ran a growing business and balance the growing pains associated with it. The reduced demand for your product or service frees up time and resources for a complete internal audit.
Start with identifying and improving:
- Breakdowns in processes
- Delays caused by poor project management
- Redundancies and overlaps
- Breakdowns in communication both internally and customer facing
- Lack of integration in your tech systems and updates
- Migration of paper files to cloud storage
Don’t forget to consult your employees and find out what tools they need to work efficiently and what they’d like to improve.
- Research your market
Use this opportunity to conduct market research and look externally as well as internally. Assemble a team and investigate the current market and understand how it has evolved. Consider researching:
- Your competition – How are they dealing with the business slowdown? What techniques do the apply? Could you do better?
- Other businesses – Businesses in adjacent niches are a great information source in keeping up with your industry. Look at any new development and how they could fit into your business. Also consider looking at older companies in your market and understand the steps they took to get where they are. Mature companies are excellent reference points when growing your business.
- Upcoming trends – Staying relevant to your customers is the ultimate goal for any business. Take a close look at the past, current and upcoming trends in your industry and optimise your business accordingly. Include recent innovations and tech integration in your research.
- Nurture your sales pipeline
More than ever, a contraction is the ultimate time to cultivate and connect with your clients – prospects and existing. Call your pipeline and find out how you can support them. Focus on making them about connecting and less about selling. In the long run, it costs less to keep a customer than getting a new one. Develop loyalty in your clients by really nurturing your relationships. Somethings you could consider:
- Special offers and discounts
- Partnering in cross promotional
- Re-purpose your sales teams to account management
- Collect client feedback and testimonials
Use this opportunity to build and strengthen your business portfolio and take advantage of the boost in reputation.
- Update your product or service
Now that you have a better understanding of your market. Take the upcoming trends, feedback from your staff and customers and re-develop your product. Repurpose your staff into a research and development (R&D) unit and experiment with different prototypes. Use these prompts:
- What does my market need? What do you need to develop a solution?
- How can you tap into my current resources?
- Do you need a new set of skills for your R&D? Hire or outsource?
With smart decision making and a clear path forward you should be able to avoid mass lay-offs and retain value in your team.
- Train and upskill your teams
The re-hiring process is costly and time consuming. Companies develop alongside their employees, and re-starting this process is lengthy. Markets and industries are in constant evolution and your portfolio of skills needs to be too. You’ve already gone through the pain-staking process of developing a team and understand their strengths and weaknesses you can work to fill the gaps.
In line with your current goals and market trends invest in training, retraining and upskilling your teams – especially since you have the time.
Think of the ROI in terms of increased employee loyalty and retention as well as increased productivity from better skilled talent.
- Repurpose your teams
As you will have ascertained certain members of your team will have a lot of time on their hands. For instance, your sales team will no longer have endless prospects and recruiters will be on a hiring freeze. Rather than letting them go, place them in a different part of your organisation or re-define their goals.
Move your sales people into account management to build a relationship with your clients. Use your HR team to find appropriate training programs for upskilling your teams based on the R&D research you completed.
A new emerging trend for businesses is ‘loaning-out’ employees. In China for instance, restaurants are loaning their employees to overwhelmed supermarkets. This simultaneously keeps the workers employed and both businesses afloat.
On top of the added engagement and loyalty from your employees, you will also be tightening your operations and solving problems you put off for so long.
- Vacations for you and your team
Transitions in operating styles – like working remotely – can be tough to adopt. Chances are you and your team will be plunged into new depths and face new challenges. Don’t be militant and hard with your team. Cut them and yourself some slack to adjust to the new situation – like working from home with their families.
It’s hard to find solutions when your focus is entirely on the problem.
- Play the long game
Businesses that grow in recessions tend to act early, focus on growth and ratify a long-term perspective. Understanding your market, growing in operational efficiency, upskilling your employees or fostering customer loyalty your business must have a strategy. Your goal should be to maximise your potential and minimise losses until the economy bounces back. Growth and success isn’t impossible during a downturn – you just don’t have the luxury of mistakes.
Take advantage of a business slow down and optimise your chances for success. Your team and business will be the better for it.
As usual, The Manpower Company (TMC) is here to support your business in any capacity we can. Developing training programs and auditing your HR needs is a component to a successful business. Reach out with your concerns and optimise your team at firstname.lastname@example.org