Dealing with a crisis is a very challenging situation. First, we must react to the early developments and lead through the uncertainty. However, at some point, we must turn our attention to what things will look like once the crisis stabilizes.
Many manufacturers fail to seize opportunities that follow a crisis. Sometimes because things are out of their control. Other times because they do not take a proactive approach to adapt to changes in the marketplace in the aftermath of the crisis.
A crisis may have a significant impact on the business, such as business dropping. Unfortunately, some manufacturers opt to consider solutions such as furloughs or layoffs first. Other manufacturers choose to find a way to adapt and come back stronger, even consider salary reductions instead of layoffs. When manufacturers recognize that having and preserving their cash position is a proactive thing to do in these circumstances, these manufacturers are keen on finding a way to pivot and sometimes reinvent their business model.
Here are five steps to come back stronger from a crisis:
- Anticipate the Future – We recommend early during a crisis to begin focusing on this as you learn more about the effects of the crisis. Also, if you are unable to dedicate time to this activity, designate someone to focus on this activity as it will be tremendously valuable as you navigate through the uncertainty. Assess your unique selling proposition and think about what things will look like in the future in the event of business restrictions. With that said, consider what opportunities can position the business better than the competition and your competitor’s weaknesses. A way to answer this is by asking what the market needs will be going forward (products or services) that we can provide.
- Plan for the Future – Now that you have identified the opportunities available and how you will adapt, focus on planning what actions will be necessary. Also, consider if you have the infrastructure needed to support such changes and have confidence in your team. Finally, consider a timeline for the plan and each of its phases. Consider your products and services and how you can easily modify them to fit the new marketplace. Some variables to consider in this arena are sourcing, design & development, engaging your workforce, capacity planning (outsourcing and staffing), equipment, identifying demand, personalization, and marketing strategy. In some cases this may not be necessary or even practical, other things to consider are what can you take advantage of as a result of the current business environment, such as making key acquisitions (real estate, equipment, competitors, etc.)
- Prepare for the Future – Having identified the changes necessary to adapt. Turn your attention to implementing these modifications in the business. Consider what processes will need to be put in place to perform the associated tasks, how we will measure performance, and who will be responsible for what. Consider what communications will need to happen with our supply and customer base; always strive to protect your brand image when sourcing new partners. On the other hand, consider what improvements you can make to the business; if your competition fails to deliver in specific commitments, you may be able to claim market share through better performance. Make sure you designate a team to build the plan and track implementation.
- Follow up & Adjust – Once you roll out the plan, make sure to solicit feedback. Talk to your customers directly and learn from their experiences. Make adjustments, such as modifications to your offerings or changing direction if necessary. The input should be relayed to the rest of the team so everyone can make the required adjustments.
- Reward your People – There will be individuals that are critical because of their contributions. Make sure you take care of these valuable team members; they are the ones that help the business adapt or even survive. These team members will be thankful because you preserved their jobs, and that makes you stronger.
Even though opportunities may not always be available, successful manufacturing businesses always look for them when faced with adverse situations. Consider your options before resorting to drastic cost-cutting measures that will jeopardize jobs and your business. As you learn to adapt and become more agile, you can use your ability to modify and roll out new products or services to the market as a weapon to gain a competitive advantage.
If you are dealing with a crisis and you need to improve your performance, schedule a call to discuss your specific situation.
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