IWF Education: After Covid-19 – Who Will be Left Standing?

1. May 2020 10:33

  

Christine Corelli offers 5 of her popular management sessions at IWF 2020. Learn more and register>>

» BMG12 -  Managing and Motivating Millennials - Plus Are You Ready for Gen Z?!

 » BMG13 - Are You a Boss? Or a Leader? - Would You Work for You?

 » BMG14 - Powering Up for Prosperity - A Program For Women in Leadership

» BMG15 - Business Has Changed - What Needs to Change in Your Business?

» BMG16 - How to Avoid the Family Owned Business Blues and Excel as a Family Owned Business

By: Christine Corelli, President: CHRISTINE CORELLI & ASSOCIATES, INC.

Considering the enormous challenges the coronavirus has brought upon manufacturers, cabinetry shops, other businesses in the woodworking industry, you can't help but wonder: Who will be left standing? 

When this is over, there will be ten characteristics that identify organizations that stood the test of time. These companies tackled the uncertainty of Covid-19 and employed sound business practices that ensured future business growth even in the most challenging business climate. The following are actions they may have taken. 

  1. Business slowed down, but strategic planning sessions sped up. The smartest people in their company, regardless of title or rank, participated in these sessions using video-conferencing. They looked at their business operations as if they were unbiased outside consultants. Together, they acknowledged the harsh realities their companies were facing and identified actions that would help drive business growth and ensure long-term profitability after the coronavirus and its implications ended. They knew they would have to accept that business has changed, and had to plan carefully, all the while realizing they would likely have to shift gears along the way if their plans or strategies did not get the desired outcome. They cut costs, and furloughed people, because they had no choice, but kept their people involved.

They addressed their company's strengths and weaknesses and identified critical action steps along the way to achieving their goals. They devised and implemented relationship strategies aimed at helping them win over customers. They focused on positioning their sales staff as their indispensable business partners to their customers and made sure their sales teams stayed in touch with prospects and past customers to offer any help or advice. Most importantly, they changed the way they think, accepted and adapted to the dramatic changes that were occurring, and made a group commitment to meet their challenges head-on. The vowed not to get stuck in the past and to help all employees become positive about the future. To ensure regular commitment to the mission at hand, they planned periodic meetings with their workforce and management retreats to evaluate progress. 

  1. Complacency was the enemy.The successful companies challenged the Status Quo and took risks – not frivolously, but supported by rational decision-making. They researched top-performing woodworking companies, encouraged idea-sharing among employees working from home by offering rewards for the best ideas – even from the ones they had to lay-off. They adopted even bolder marketing and advertising strategies, branded their customer service, and competitively funded their communications campaigns. They figured out how to reinvent their entire business to become nimble, more flexible, more customer-focused, and more diversified. They promoted their environmental consciousness in their marketing and public relations campaigns. 
  1. They became value-added companies.  They realized and exploited the fact that much of the value they provided to customers was not only the quality of products and work but the superior knowledge they had to offer. They became value-added organizations, knowing how critical their expertise was to their bottom line. They helped their customers far more than any competitor, knowing that customers appreciated it during tough times. They talked to customers and reached agreement on priorities, actions, and outcomes. They established a VIP program for loyal customers who stuck with them. 
  1. They got serious about customer service.Every single aspect of the customer experience was analyzed. Service flaws were identified, and plans were made to eliminate them fast! Systems and procedures were streamlined so that the business ran like a well-oiled machine. Product support staff knew their performance was critical to the success and profitability of their organizations. Management made sure they understood their customers' business so they could anticipate their needs. They consistently brainstormed and implemented ways to improve their customers’ experience and upped the Wow Factor, keeping in mind that no detail was too small. They planned on how to put the “WOW” factor into their delivery of service. No detail was too small. 

Sales, marketing, and customer service departments worked hand-in-hand using video-conferencing. Together, the company and its people developed an obsession to deliver their best performance--with every customer, every day. They made plans to establish an even better reputation for consistently exceptional service. They knew customer confidence would increase, revenue would increase, and customers would become loyal advocates who helped spread the word.

  1. Technology helped these companies work faster than their competitors and closer to customers.They escalated their use of social media. Creativity was applied with each and every tweet, blog, Facebook post and You-Tube video. Their websites were far superior to their competitors and optimized for the highest search engine placement. Video clips were on their main page, throughout their site, and on how’ tos. They recognized great content was key. No stone was left unturned.
  1. They became learning organizations and learned faster than their competitors.They were constantly striving to improve their skills because they knew that when business was slow it might be the best time. Webinars were provided. Their sales teams studied and mastered every single aspect of Sales 101 and advanced sales training on negotiation, sales communication, and presentation skills. They became masters at building relationships with potential and existing customers. Leadership training was mandatory to ensure everyone would lead in the same way. Sales managers learned how to manage and motivate their teams.
  1. Every person in the company lived and breathed its core values.All leaders and employees consistently demonstrated and operated from the core values of honesty, integrity, teamwork, respect, excellence, accountability, social and environmental consciousness, health, safety, family, and other values intrinsic to their company's culture. Leaders recognized that employees observed their actions and behaviors during challenging times. They led by example, spoke with confidence, and set the tone for their employees to follow. Salespeople learned the exact words and phrases to influence customers to buy. 
  1. Executives and managers treated their people the same way they treat their best customers. Setting a good example as a servant leader was a strong key to their success. They fully realized that Businesses don't do business. People do business. It is the people in a company who will or will not carry an organization into a successful future.

Dynamic leadership, sales and customer service excellence and employee involvement in creating a high-performance culture became organizational cornerstones. Reward and recognition (including unexpected small monetary rewards) were also part of their culture. These companies had a Zero Tolerance for Bad Bosses. They knew that having great bosses and creating a great place to come to work each day was the best way to keep people motivated and performing at their best.

  1. Execution was a substantial part of their competitive strategy.The strong companies represented recognized that knowing what should be done and actually doing it are two very different things. They mastered the art of execution and established specific criteria for measuring excellence and ensuring accountability. Managers and employees were held to established service standards in every aspect of every role.
  1. They did not stop believing in themselves, their businesses, their people and a better future. They kept their eye on the prize.They had only one goal – to emerge from the fray as the winner, with their business stronger, more vibrant and, more prosperous that before, and with solid prospects for continued future growth and success. Successful companies took all of these steps, and many, many more—including other strategies and tactics learned they learned during educational sessions at IWF Atlanta.

You've Seen the Future—So What Will You Do?

The question you should be asking now is, "In the long run, will I still be standing? Am I doing the things now that will translate into a successful future? What do I need to change? What will happen if I don’t? 

If you are not sure of the answers, get moving on these ten strategies to help ensure your success for the long run. Overcoming the repercussions from the coronavirus won’t happen by itself. It takes the will power of an entire organization to succeed, and that starts at the top.         

To see more from Christine, register for one of the sessions she will presenting at the IWF 2020 Education Conference. Check out more about Christine and her sessions here. 

 ©Copyright, Christine Corelli & Associates

Christine an author, speaker, and consultant. She has been a popular presenter at past IWF events. To learn more, visit www.christinespeaks.com or call (847) 477-7376

IWF Education: Need a Survive and Prosper Strategy? Consider What Needs to Change in Your Company

20. April 2020 15:11

 

 

Christine Corelli offers 5 of her popular management sessions at IWF 2020. Learn more and register>>

» BMG12 -  Managing and Motivating Millennials - Plus Are You Ready for Gen Z?!

 » BMG13 - Are You a Boss? Or a Leader? - Would You Work for You?

 » BMG14 - Powering Up for Prosperity - A Program For Women in Leadership

» BMG15 - Business Has Changed - What Needs to Change in Your Business?

» BMG16 - How to Avoid the Family Owned Business Blues and Excel as a Family Owned Business

By: Christine Corelli, President: CHRISTINE CORELLI & ASSOCIATES, INC.

Do the coronavirus and the affect it has had on the economy have you bewildered? Feeling frustrated because there are more downs than ups in your business? 

You are not alone. Covid-19 and the economic woes it has brought about have had an impact on virtually every aspect of business. 

We hear about it all day long. Everyone is under immense pressure to deal with lost revenue, additional financial challenges, and global uncertainties. 

This situation is heartbreaking to me, not only because of the death toll, the death of a very close friend, the cancellations in my own business but also because of this: When I was presenting sessions at IWF Atlanta 2018, attendees and exhibitors with whom I interacted told me their businesses were doing great. Most were experiencing impressive business growth and profitability. 

 

So what. Now what?

Hopefully, we might think that since the economy was fundamentally strong before the Coronavirus that we’ll have a vigorous recovery once COVID-19 passes. The truth is, while I’m the ultimate optimist, no one can be sure. 

 

Doing what needs to be done

To rise to these challenges, businesses have downsized, put people on “furlough”, and retrenched. Reduced hours and reductions in wages have been put in place. These cost-cutting measures are painful but vital to survive what is often referred to as “The Perfect Storm.”  

 

The questions remain

While most business professionals have decided to “wait and see what happens” and ride out this storm, the questions remain:

  • How long will this last?
  • What else should we do now to run our businesses without going under and position ourselves for a successful future?

 

Being proactive -- the best way to go

You can’t control what is occurring, but you can control how you react to it. These situations separate the weak from the strong. They are akin to what might be referred to as Economic Darwinism—the ultimate survival of the fittest. In reality, it’s the smartest, most creative, and most proactive businesses that will not only survive but prosper in the future.

 

What else should be done? 

Because every business is different there can never be a “one fits all” solution. Nevertheless, taking the right actions will help protect your company and prepare you for future success. 

Don’t simply handle the impact of the economy by downsizing, reducing hours or wages buy looking deeper into cost control, reexamining your competitive strategy, improving efficiency and building relationships.  

 

The following actions to consider:

 

Examine your business processes to improve efficiency

Implement changes in your business processes. Analyze every function, procedure, policy, and aspect of your business. This process of pulling your business apart and giving it intense scrutiny will help you to find ways to not only cut costs but improve operations. 

For example, you might consider centralizing job functions so you can operate with fewer administrative people or fewer people overall. Work to create a highly effective and efficient infrastructure for your company that will put you far ahead of the competition when the storm subsides. Do a reality check for every single function in your company. What would be the consequences of not having that particular position? This is a tough job but, but you have to make tough choices.

 

Examine the touchpoints of the customer experience

Take the time to formalize systems and procedures that work. Determine how you can provide a superior level of service than your competitors and demonstrate a higher level of caring and professionalism. Make every effort for your customers to do business with you—now and in the long run. Create the highest standards for customer service and establish “guiding principles” for how your staff will treat customers. 

Your ultimate goal should be to provide a flawless service experience. Prepare a manual that documents everything involved in customer service so your entire staff has a playbook they can follow and get the right result every time. 

 

Renegotiate your contracts and providers

If you haven’t already done so, review your costs for insurance, office equipment, phones, uniforms, vending machines, water supply, utilities—any service or product that represents a large portion of your expense load. Ask everyone for a better deal. And that includes your banker and health-care provider.  

 

Enlist your staff’s assistance in identifying nonessential expenses and avoiding waste

Far too often, businesses have underutilized employees' suggestions and ideas. They rarely hold brainstorming meetings. You will be amazed by the creative ideas your team can come up with if you make the meeting and the exercise interesting and collaborative. 

Hold a meeting to discuss how to avoid unnecessary spending and cut costs. Help your staff to understand that, talent aside, cash flow is the name of the game. 

Break into teams and have a reward for the team that comes up with the best ideas. Let them know no detail is too small and little things can make a big difference to your bottom line. Provide a few examples such as shutting down their computers at night, shutting off lights, keeping heat and air-conditioning at a minimum, going easy on the gas pedal when using company vehicles, and avoid unnecessary driving. 

After your initial meeting, establish an internal team of “cost specialists” from different departments to make suggestions on finding ways to minimize expenses and to increase accountability. Employee involvement is the key to cost control. Providing small rewards will often elicit great ideas on cost savings that will reap impressive results. 

Another good reason to conduct this session is that is an excellent team-building activity. If you want to survive and prosper, teamwork is essential. 

 

Enlist your staff’s assistance in surveying them to answer the following questions:

  •             What, in your opinion are our strengths?
  •             What should we keep doing?
  •             What should we stop doing?
  •             What needs to change?

 

Boost your marketing and advertising 

Cutting costs is a smart move, but not when it comes to marketing and advertising. Boost your marketing and promotions efforts. Failure to do so can impede your presence in the marketplace and lower your chances of acquiring future business. Instead, consider changing the style of your ads so they are different than your previous ads. Make them more eye-catching and appealing. 

 

Redouble your efforts 

Spend more time on the phone and redouble business development and relationship-building activities. Your competitors may be asleep at the wheel and are just waiting until the economy turns around. You and your sales team should be the ones to forge ahead.  

 

Add value – but make sure it is worth it

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that throwing something in for free is adding enough value to impress customers. Create a value-added offerings package or program that will make your customers say “WOW.” 

Use focus group research to determine what your customers really want. Tap into your creativity to think of what you can do that your competitors are not doing and use it to truly differentiate yourself in the market. 

 

Assist key customers in every way possible

Work with key customers to assist them in any way you can in the downturn. Reach out to them and show them you care about them. Show them you understand how their business has been affected. For example, help them to manage and maintain their existing equipment more efficiently to help reduce their costs. Offer your assistance in every way possible. This is critical to do during tough economic times and will help you to protect your turf when competitors attack. 

These actions will help tie you closer to them when the economy rebounds. You will find that customers are extremely loyal to those who help them during an economic downturn. 

Reconnect with past customers. Make queries to find out more about their present situation. If they were customers in the past, there is a good chance that they can be customers in the future. Never give up the opportunity to bring them back into the fold. Invite them to these events as well. 

 

Show your customers you appreciate them 

Make sure your customers are made to feel important—very important. What has your company done lately to show your customers that you appreciate them?

 

Get your “house” in order 

    

Staff 

The time could not be better to get your house in order. Evaluate your entire staff. Who are your high contributors and long-term players? Who are the best “team players”? Who works best with customers, employees, and business partners? Who best fits the vision of what you want your organization to be and where you want to go? Who can “play more than one position?” 

Judge employees on how well they demonstrate your core values, how well they work with others, their technical ability, the quality of their work, their level of productivity, the level of service they provide and the attitude they bring to your customers and their co-workers. Judge your managers by their leadership skills and ability to execute your competitive strategy. 

Hard as it is, remove anyone who might hold your team back from success. Then, do everything you can to retain your top performers. Provide them with small rewards, appreciate them, and give them big recognition. You can’t afford to lose them. If need be, consider where you might transfer top performers to other departments instead of letting them go. 

 

Training

When the economy slows, it is the ideal time to invest in your employees—especially when it comes to training. Unfortunately, many businesses have taken training out of their budget. The tendency is that they look upon training as strictly an expense and not as an investment in the future. While it is important to control expenses, training is an expense that affects employees’ skills and knowledge. 

World Class dealers know how important it is to be a learning organization that learns faster than their competitors. Training builds organizations. Sales increase. Mistakes are avoided. Productivity is increased. Morale is improved. 

Make continuous learning and improvement a strong part of your strategy for survival and success. Provide training on leadership, communication, teamwork, and customer service skills to everyone in the company and make sure these skills are applied. Never assume your staff automatically knows how to handle every situation and all types of customers. It is your job to provide them with the knowledge to do so—appropriately and in keeping with company policy. There are numerous on-line programs you can utilize.

Enable your workforce through training, then empower them to make decisions to serve customers when all of this is over.  

 

Culture – Everyone is “in Sales”

Make it a major strategic initiative to radically transform your culture into one of “High Performance.” Review your core values and establish “guiding principles” on how everyone should demonstrate the values of honesty, integrity, teamwork, respect, customer focus, accountability, excellence, health, safety family, and social and environmental consciousness, and your other core values.

Set achievable and ideal goals for sales. Inspire your sales team by showing them the commissions they will make instead of the figures you want them to hit. Be accessible to them and help them to close sales. Also, ask them to identify ways the entire company can better support sales and dramatically improve customer service.

 

Leadership – Everything starts and stops with it

Remember whose job it is to keep your staff motivated through challenging times…YOURS! It all starts at the top. Through challenging times, it’s always up to the leader to keep his or her people motivated. Display dynamic leadership. Set the example for cooperation and service excellence Treat your employees as well as you treat your best customers. Demand the same of all managers. Adopt a “Zero Tolerance for Bad Bosses” policy in your company. 

As a result of this commitment to get your house in order, your organization and team will become the highest quality it has ever been. You will be well-positioned to prosper in the future. 

 

Invest in technology and equipment that reduces your operational cost, improves quality, and increases your contact with the customer.

Use technology as the driver and the tool for business growth, increased productivity, improved communication and connectivity with customers. If your software is more than five years old, it’s time to upgrade. There are new and affordable technologies being created every day that can make a big difference in your bottom line. Obtain assistance from experts on technologies that will best suit your needs.  

 

Visibility is as important as ability

 

Attend IWF ATLANTA. Take advantage of the excellent education and networking opportunities it provides to form relationships with peers, suppliers, and industry experts. Keep in mind, that often the strongest relationships are formed during tough times. Do say hello if you attend one my sessions.  

 

Change the way you think. Don’t let the economy steal your enthusiasm.  

 

With so many people worried about the future of their business (with good reason), it's no wonder so few are enthusiastic these days. Perhaps we should learn from the wise. I believe Walter Chrysler said it best: 

 

"The real secret of success is enthusiasm. 

Enthusiasts are fighters. 

They have fortitude. 

They have staying qualities. 

Enthusiasm is at the bottom of all progress. 

With it, there is accomplishment. 

Without it, there are only alibis." 

 

With this in mind, how about taking Chrysler's advice? Regardless of your circumstances, make every effort to stay afloat and refrain from losing your enthusiasm for your business. Is it easy? Of course not. But if you lose your enthusiasm, your customers and employees will sense it. When the economy is down, you need to be up. If you are exhibiting a “survival” mentality, change it to a “positioning for prosperity” mentality. 

 

The Bottom Line 

You will agree that business has changed. There is no “business as usual.” Execution… taking action on smart decisions must be a strong part of your survive and prosper strategy. It will give you the staying power you need to meet the current challenge…and come out ahead. 

 

To see more from Christine, register for one of the sessions she will presenting at the IWF 2020 Education Conference. Check out more about Christine and here sessions here.

 

 ©Copyright, Christine Corelli & Associates

Christine an author, speaker, and consultant. She has been a popular presenter at past IWF events. To learn more, visit www.christinespeaks.com or call (847) 477-7376