‘Sink or swim’ – do not give up, now’s the time to focus on the future and go on the offensive if you want to restore growth to your business
Seventy per cent of businesses that fail do so because of taking too little action too late. The normal model of strategic planning which can take many months will not suffice in a crisis. Once a business has its short-term cash needs under control through, furlough, cost management and appropriate bank facilities it is time to go on the offensive. A constant theme through all recovery programmes is analyse data, draw conclusions, build recovery plans and act quickly. It will be crucial to identify what data feeds will help understand when an organisation is at Ground zero, measure and monitor progress and react quickly and appropriately.
A major focus currently needs to be on customers and employees. There will be new opportunities either with existing or new customers. An important behaviour change exhibited through the Covid crisis is the current level of product and brand switching. Research has found that 30 to 40 percent of consumers have been trying new brands and products. This presents opportunities and requires creative, blue sky thinking to identify demand trends and new opportunities that arise when there is such market turmoil.
Redeploy your employees where they can make the most impact, this may be in activities or environments where they have not previously operated. This may require some reverse brand assumptions to determine what can we do, not what did we do. Companies should reallocate field sales and marketing resources to the channels, customers and geographies that are experiencing high demand. A global pharmaceutical company has moved from running a field-based sales force of several thousand to a 100% online model during the crisis. When the crisis is over, they plan to keep around 35% online moving to a more agile, relevant and efficient sales team. In other words, they have learnt new ways of working and will carry a competitive benefit post Covid-19.
Focus also on your business model. A major national wine retailer, since lockdown, is generating 40% more volume with 50% less staff. Sainsbury’s CEO stated that they spent 25 years getting to a 7% online model – and have doubled it in 6 weeks! Major opportunities exist as customers change their habits for better, more efficient business models. Many restaurants have quickly developed a delivery service with organisations like Deliveroo waving their new customer fees. A number of these establishments will realise there is a bottom-line improvement by dropping eat in diners and they will never return to the traditional restaurant model. This type of innovative business thinking has unfortunately been driven by crisis rather than good ongoing strategic review processes.
Manufacturers are having to approach business in a different manner to maintain business continuity. The Covid-19 pandemic has required creative planning and organisation to ensure social distancing can be maintained in manufacturing plants. This has led to physical partitioning, shift operations and where possible, increased automation to protect employees. This flexible adaptation through necessity will in many cases remain post crisis as it will have improved efficiency and will have created a safer working environment. This industrial shock is likely to promote automation and employee flexibility to improve efficiency and reduce future risk. Supply chains are also being challenged and supplier proximity, a low tariff attribute in the global markets will now take on a much higher priority.
Most companies risk matrices will not have considered global pandemics and there will have been no contingency plans for such an event. The key learnings from these events are the need to continually review if your business model from cradle to grave is flexible and fit for purpose. Ensure you have a good strategic review process and a management team that can react quickly, assimilating data and utilising external skills and experience. In a crisis, the planning cycle time must be dramatically shorter than normal budgetary needs. Ensure your company has access to data, resources and expertise to enable it to conduct planning, implementation and review processes. Companies who can be agile in their planning and flexible in their business adaptation will emerge stronger in an economy where many competitors will fail.
The business growth team at EMC are not theorists but practitioners and will assimilate your business needs quickly and work with you and your management teams to develop and execute a recovery plan. Our experts operate on an interim or project basis and represent a totally flexible and cost-effective solution.
Take the 1st step and contact us to discuss your business challenges and how we can provide the support you require. An initial discussion will ascertain where there are opportunities to quickly influence your company’s performance and who would be most appropriate to support you.
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