Updated: Jul 19, 2020
Today we are being forced into a new way of doing business. Some of us are thinking, we can’t wait to get back to how it used to be, others are on the forefront of innovation and planning their future industry dominance. I challenge you to be the latter, and think about what your business looks like when we get back to the “new normal.” The experience of COVID-19 has changed our paradigm with how we are managing our expenses, utilizing technology, reaching our target clients with marketing, and developing processes to keep up with the changing world.
When reality set in, business owners were forced to take a red pencil to expenses and they began to learn through trial by fire which ones were truly necessary and those that could be cut. We learned that having a backup plan for disaster is necessary because it comes unexpectedly. We had to look at first what your current AR and AP is, doing an estimation of a 30-60-90 day scenario to find “when the money runs out”, then started cutting expenses in phases:
Phase 1 - Meals, Entertainment, Travel, Office Supplies, Garbage Pickup, Credit Card Terms, Hire Ads that cost money, Bonuses, new Sample books, etc.
Phase 2 - “Non-Essential” Employees like Brand Ambassadors, Under Producers, Warehouse associates, Showroom associates, reduce hours in departments, change salary sales teams to commission based, etc.
Phase 3 - Project Managers, Schedulers, Building/Rent, etc.
DO NOT CUT: Top producers, marketing, technology like quoting software, crm, email, a doc/excel suite, training and organization memberships that help you save money, keep you profitable, and in touch with best business practices.
What we need to consider when we are adding expenses back in is future necessities and when to start layering in those necessary expenses. With that in mind, keep technology and marketing throughout the process but DO NOT add in all of your employees back right away. Our hearts may say to do so, but what you will find is those you chose not to cut because they were your aces - they can be more efficient and do more for you when processes are streamlined. And for their efforts, they can get paid more with better benefit packages keeping them loyal to your organization for longer. During this time, focus on creating processes to increase productivity and volume of work before you start adding bodies. Consider these recovery phases:
Phase 1 - Hire Ads/Recruiting, Training Tools, Additional team technology licenses, Insurances/Benefits packages
Phase 2 - Employees in sequential order: Sales teams, Scheduling/Business Development Teams, Project Management
Phase 3 - Employees in sequential order: Accounting, Warehouse, and Showroom/Office admins, and team production bonuses tied to PROFITS
What we do not bring back: Additional rent, meals, entertainment, travel, office supplies *besides those that fall under technology, etc.
As the old proverb goes, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”
Prioritize necessity in order to purposely limit your options so it opens your mind to new creations to solve a need. The companies that will survive through this will prioritize (and will not cut) technology as their springboard for innovation and profitability. For example, technology needs that are critical in a virtual consultation are online quoting tools that automate the order process with a CRM, video chats like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, Vendor Digital Catalogs and sample order sites, Online E-Commerce, online appointment scheduling, etc. These platforms will integrate with processes developed to keep you on message, having more time for new opportunities, and streamlined to produce more, adding profit to the bottom line.
The keys to a profitable process is speed, simplicity, and sustainability. When you are improving your processes during this time, consider the answer to these questions. How much time does it take to get from point A to point B, and finish the alphabet all the way to install? How can I eliminate steps (or waste) from each process? What are the transitional processes and how do we hold accountable a process hand off (so we do not lose information in the switch)? By defining these steps, and keeping them simple, your team will excel and become a lean machine to comeback stronger.
Your Ringleader, Jessica Harling