Your Own Personal Bailout?

By Beacon Staff

While the media is full of discussion, arguments and political posturing about the gazillion dollar bailout of the financial industry, no one is talking about the 27 million+ Main Street businesses that must survive on their own.

Here are three strategies to help weather the storm swirling in Washington and New York, without spending a cent of taxpayer money:

Measure twice, cut once

Ever wonder how a big company can cut 25,000 employees and still manage to not only stay in business, but continue to deliver their products and services? Did they really need those 25,000 people in the first place? You don’t have that luxury, so be brutal about getting rid of unnecessary overhead. Cut the stuff you don’t need and never needed, not things that generate revenue and profit.

I’m not talking about laying off quality staff members. Instead, look directly at expenses that shouldn’t have been there in the first place or that can be redirected.

What gets thrown away? Can manufacturing waste be reused or resold? Can it be used to serve another purpose? Look at every consumable with a critical eye, not just for elimination, but for re-use or replacement by a more efficient product, commodity or service.

Dot those i’s, cross those t’s

Ever notice that people do long needed home repairs or improvements right before they sell a home, or that they wait until in the middle of winter to fix a draft under the basement door? Contractors could tell you plenty of these stories. In tight times, the last thing you need is to have leaks, particularly revenue pouring down a storm drain.

Make sure there aren’t any gaps in the movement of paper around your office. One lost piece of paper might lose your next million dollar customer (could be a referral you miss out on…)

Create checklists to make sure that no ball gets dropped and permanently incorporate them into your workflow.

Make sure leads are getting called back, scripts (If you have them) are being followed, sources of leads are being recorded and return calls, emails and faxes are being made on time.

If you don’t have a “What’s next?”, find or create one. If you have one, make sure everyone is well aware of it and selling it.

Monitor every delivery and installation and follow up to make sure the customer was thrilled.

Ask for referrals as part of every single sale. “If you have a friend who needs our kind of help, we’d be honored if you’d recommend us. Here’s a card for 5 of your friends.”

Every time another business does something to annoy you, write it down and dig around in your business to make sure you aren’t doing the same thing. If you find it, fix it. Today.

Do the simple, obvious things that you know you should always be doing, but didn’t because there was always plenty of business. These things might just be the difference you need – and they might just turn out to be the boost that catapults you into that next growth phase.

No more secrets

No matter what your state of mind about the current economic news, you simply have to recognize that news of rough economic times might concern your staff far more than it concerns you. Losing the business, or laying off people may not be on your radar.

However, you are not your staff.

They might be petrified about the news. They might have friends or family members who just got laid off. Do you want them worrying about how they’ll feed their kids if you lay them off, or would you rather they paid attention to manufacturing tolerances in your shop, knowing that the company is doing OK? I suggest you keep them well-informed.

Speaking of your staff, Oct 17th’s Success in the New West features two Flathead-based experts who are focused on helping you make the most of your employee investment:

  • Kristin Donahue of Employment Dimensions will speak on the challenges of engaging, encouraging and connecting with multi-generational employees.
  • Soul-Felt Words’ Michelle Skaletski-Boyd will speak on helping you and your staff make the most of your day, both personally and professionally.

Success in the New West is looking like a Don’t Miss business improvement investment.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.

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