Beyond the COVID-19 Crisis
The internet has an ample supply of “experts” who are writing articles, publishing books and handing out tips on what you should do to get your business through this unprecedented business climate. It does intrigue me how these experts consider themselves qualified to give (I don’t think they give away anything) advice when we are dealing with something that has never happened before and they know nothing about your business. We have never experienced a near complete shutdown of the economy (Businesses told to close), restrictions on when and where we can go (Travel Restrictions) and told to stay away from everyone (Social Distancing). I make no claims on being an expert on what to do to get through this. I am only going to share with you what I am doing.
My time and efforts are focused on my customers. Nothing else matters because they are the reason my business exists. I reach out to them at least once a week and more often if I can without becoming a nuisance. Based on my own experience, I know that during this time a random phone call or video conference can help ease the stress, even if there is no discussion about the business. Human contact is something we all need. I want them to know they are not alone . I am there for them and I will do whatever I can to help. I have also given most of my clients extended terms. I would rather they use their funds to help sustain their business and when the economy returns to whatever the new normal is, they can pay me then. I am aware that giving your customers extended terms may be difficult for many of you but if you can manage an increase in your receivables, that accommodation will go a long way on building customer loyalty and it will give you a competitive edge to get their business going forward.
I also make sure the time I spend with my customers is not wasted “shooting the breeze” or complaining about our politicians. I want to be their source for information and new ideas. I will give them candid feedback on their planned strategy and provide them with options to consider. In the current situation I do not tell my customers what they should do. I try to provide them with more than enough information so they can make an informed decision. I am a Business Consultant and acutely aware I sound much different than most of my colleagues. The issue is we are now in situation that nobody has ever experienced. Anybody who claims they know the best strategy is delusional. We are all treading on new territory and I would be doing my customers a disservice if I tried to apply the old rules to this new business climate. To be very clear, I am not referencing the current situation, but rather I am talking about post Covid-19 and the path forward.
Focusing on the customer is not a new concept but it is rarely applied as a core concept of your business. The main point I am making is, any business owner can spend 2 minutes on a google search and get multiple checklists on what you must do with your business to survive an economic crisis. Unfortunately, you will discover that very few of the lists will include delighting your customers. All of the suggestions will be based on previous business parameters and the rules we have all learned over the years. Most of those suggestions come at the expense of the customer. I focus my business exclusively on meeting the needs of my customers and assisting them to navigate what’s ahead. The current discussions I am having with my customers are rarely focused on current concerns. Rather, we are discussing what changes are needed to transform their current company into a faster moving, nimble and adaptable organization that is focused on their customers and prepared to take full advantage of the many opportunities this “New Normal” will present to all of us. I am the eternal optimist and I welcome the challenges that lay ahead.
This post was contributed by Gary Grenter, Owner and Principal Consultant of Alpha-Flow Management Consulting. Visit his site at www.alpha-flow.net to learn how Alpha-Flow Management Consulting LLC can help you start and grow your business.