Vince's view: Cut costs, not corners
If you haven’t cut out all the fat in your day-to-day operations by now, hurry up and you’ll be a couple of years too late. So now what? Well, in all that cutting, I hope you don’t cut corners.
Don’t cut corners means staying true to the values that made your business successful. It means honoring your commitments to those who depend on you. It means: When things go bad, don’t go with them.
Ethics is all about how we relate to one another, especially those who depend on you: employees, customers, referral sources, members of a community, vendors and lenders. Let’s look at how to uphold these trusting relationships.
Do your best to avoid layoffs. Once they’re gone, you won’t get them back. Survivors will become less loyal and you’ll look just like all the other corporate cowards who take the easy way out.
One client was considering reneging on a bonus plan because of the expected cuts and cash flow concerns of his business. I advised him to honor paying out the bonus in order not to destroy trust. Another client was contemplating a layoff. I suggested presenting his people with a reduction in hours in order to save jobs, driving home the fact that his people were too important to his success to lose even one. He did, and his people took the option. Get creative - it works.
Continue training, coaching and developing your team. Learning isn’t just for good times; it can help us get through the not-so-good times quicker.
There is no such thing as too much service. That means smiling when you don’t want to. It means doing something extra when it may cost you. It means returning a call, even if you don’t have the answer yet, because you said you would. It means becoming an incredible provider of products and services no one can help but come back to, recommend and promote. No matter what’s going on in your life, it’s your customer’s life that’s important - focus and find a way to create value and earn the business loyalty.
Your network is the lifeblood for new business - don’t neglect it. Never take it for granted. Honor your promises. Return the favor of a lead. Say “thank you” and mean it. Buy lunch once in a while. Be of good cheer. Explore collaboration and partnering with mutual benefits at the forefront.
Support isn’t only money. Make yourself and your team available to participate in two community causes: One that aligns itself to your product or services, and another that doesn’t. Establishing your business as a community resource, beyond money, positions you as an employer of excellence and a friend to neighbors known and unknown.
While negotiating prices and terms, don’t always beat up on your suppliers. They need to make a profit, as well. If they’re delivering value, you certainly want them to be around for the long term. Don’t be afraid to spend a buck or two and invest in product or service offerings from suppliers that can strengthen your business and/or extend your value to current or potential customers.
Don’t wait until you’re woefully behind or in trouble. Cultivate relationships and develop honest dealings with financial sources. Today’s economy is a direct result of fraud, lying, cheating, stealing and dodging responsibilities. When it comes to bad news, fiscal woes or other challenges - knowing about them sooner rather than later is always best.
Remember, trust builds confidence and confidence builds loyalty. The best advice I can heed, as well as offer to anyone who owns or plays a critical leadership role in business, is: No one ever cuts their business into profitability. The only way to profit is by honoring commitments to others. Don’t cut corners. Stand up, speak out and act out your values. In today’s economic malaise, there are too many temptations to resort to compromising, becoming complacent or, worst of all, being corrupt.
We are all tempted to do things when pressures mount and challenges seem daunting. Remember why you got into business: No doubt it was to help people and provide a lifestyle for you and your family. You can accomplish neither if your business is shut down, you’re in jail, your reputation is damaged and trust is gone. hme
Vince Crew is the creator of the HME Power Management System, author of “Everyday Ethics, Everlasting Consequences,” and ethics analyst for Fox Radio News. For more information, visit www.reachdevelopment.com.