Small enterprises are worst-hit in the event of a global slowdown. One of the biggest challenges businesses face are dwindling customer orders, as your customers are shrinking their inventories.
At Bartakke Electrofab, we faced a tough dilemma; whether to dedicate our limited resources to scuffle with our competitors to grab petty orders or to invest our resources strategically to make the best use of this downturn. We focused on retaining our loyal customers and generating regular business from them, whilst investing rest of our kitty to make the best use of the economic recession.
Global economic climate, like weather seasons, always has the potential for improvement in the future. Small businesses should invest their constrained resources to benefit from the slowdown rather that rally against it.
1) Experiment and Create: Invest in developing new products or experiment with introducing new features to your existing product range. Engage your team in brainstorming for new ideas instead of deploying them on wild goose chase for insignificant orders. Once you enter the boom period, you will get a definite head start over your competitors as you would be armed with improved technology, design and features.
2) Hire staff: Yes you heard that right! Get excellent people on board and spend valuable time in training them. Slack period gives you free time to acquaint your new team members to your corporate culture, manufacturing processes and design details. Your investment will pay off once large orders start rolling in and your team will be highly efficient in executing them.
3) Streamline your business: Slowdown gives you an opportunity to introduce and implement a new manufacturing process, a new ERP system or revamp your corporate culture. You can spend time aligning your current corporate practices to Lean Management. Lean techniques will help your business to cut down down on waste in form of material, time, idleness, over-production, defects, inventory etc., thereby making your business productive and profitable in the long run.
4) Invest in Branding and Advertising: Establishing or renovating your corporate brand image in the slack period will keep your presence fresh in the market. Exhibiting in various trade shows, running advertising campaigns, undertaking social media marketing etc., sends out a positive and resilient image of your company to your customers.
At Bartakke Electrofab, we implemented this four-point approach and can attest to its benefits. You too can implement this approach or create a new one to suit your business. Economic slowdown is a transient phase but we small businesses are here to stay.