In March of 2001 the U.S. economy slid into a recession. By the time the powers that be decided to make the announcement in 2002 it was old news. Many organizations, including those in the moldmaking sector, had already taken a hard hit from the economic downturn, and were taking measures to survive long before it was made formal. It's now almost 2004 and they are still in a survival mode. There's no need to announce that the economy is taking longer to recover than anticipated.
Today's companies are facing issues and problems exacerbated by the economic downturn.
Downsizing, reorganization, restructuring, cost cuts, hiring freezes and other measures have been taken to stay in business in a tough economy. Managerial calls to employees to embrace change have sometimes been met with resistance and uncertainty. Low employee morale is prevalent. Although overall competition has always been tough, today competition from foreign outsourcing is fierce. These are just some of many overwhelming challenges organizations must face. Most companies are trying to figure out what to do until things turn around. But who knows the shape of things to come or the duration of the change? Although each company has its own issues and challenges, here's what you can do now to help drive business growth:
- Accept that times have changed and what has worked in the past may not work in the future. We must use change to provide the creative tension to keep us moving forward. Think of tough times as opportunities to tap into your creativity; get your organization running like a well-oiled machine and seek new ways of doing business.
- Rethink your entire business strategy. Ask these questions:
- Have we been complacent for too long?
- Where might there be opportunities to expand our services?
- What more can we offer?
- How can we penetrate new markets?
- How can we do more with less?
Take Advantage of Foreign Competition
Business is looking very interesting on an international basis for companies in the U.S., especially in certain emerging markets like Russia and specific markets in Latin America such as Brazil. Also, the Chinese market continues to do quite well despite the fact that their currency is overvalued.
Speed and execution are the keys to taking advantage of these markets. Companies in the moldmaking sector that respond to these emerging situations will be the most competitive. This will be especially true if growth accelerates and companies find themselves with inadequate capacity to meet demand. Smart companies are moving forward aggressively in terms of new markets, emerging growth sectors and product opportunities through strategic alliances on an international basis.
You must be receptive to seeking out innovative new products that will enhance your current product line and stimulate business growth. Learn what new products and technology are available that can help to expand your business. You need to accept that finding products overseas can enhance your current product or add to your product line. Thoroughly explore the alternatives. Some companies have found critical new products and technologies from outside companies. If you are not receptive and highly conscious to outside new technology and overseas markets, you may quickly find yourself acting in a defensive position simply to survive.
Invest in New Technologies
Invest in technology that reduces your operational cost, improves quality and increases your contact with the customer. Pay attention to customer-relationship management regardless of the size of your company. There are new technologies being created everyday, use this as the driver and the tool for business growth.
Maximize Your Business Strategies
Make this economic downturn a good time to re-examine your core business values. It helps to seek input from your employees by involving them on a day-to-day basis. Asking them for their extra effort allows you to crosstrain people in various positions. Make sure they know that they play a strong role in developing the company's reputation and establishing customer loyalty. When things do turn around, you will have a competitive edge because your employees will be more supportive and understand the big picture to a greater degree.
Going back to basics means working harder than ever to sustain and develop strong business relationships. Talk with your customers about where they see their business in the future and identify how you can assist them in selling more of their products. No matter how often you've heard about the importance of customer service, it always warrants reinforcement. If you want to obtain customer loyalty and remain competitive, your level of service must far surpass your competition. If what you sell or offer is essentially the same as other competitors, differentiate your approach to marketing and sales. Be willing to take a risk. Tap into your creativity and think about what you can do to stand out in the minds of your customers. Innovation will make you sharper, better and bolder by definition. By giving them the help that they need, you will create quality customer relationships that mean long-term profitability.
Companies that institute smart strategies and believe in their employees, products and services are able to introduce new products and differentiate themselves from their competitors by portraying a higher level of service in every aspect of the customer experience. This can gain a competitive edge until things turn around. But keep in mind, that when they do, business will be very different. Determine your future and its potential.