From that, that shall remain nameless
As my partner in business health Bob Izsak,
likes to tell it we can expect three stages of business recovery
; Mobilize, Adapt and Evolve; words chosen with great care.
The sky is falling, what do we do? We mobilize our organization to meet these new circumstances – some responses are prudent, some thoughtful others reactive, that we may come to regret. “Employees before economics”
uniquely pervades this turndown as it has no other.
The mobilized model is not sustainable but it’s all we have until a steadier state prevails. Five weeks in we are coming to terms; we are “adapting”. Human ingenuity has enabled us to work productively online meetings, the curbside pickup, remote payments, and home delivery; new ways to meet demand. My friend Bonnie is an example, volunteering to deliver for a local chocolatier over Easter. Business will acclimate because trade will endure.
There is a saying in politics “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. Now is the time to assess and prepare for business recovery. We have throttled demand by choking off supply. Recessions typically end progressively, across the board but not this time. Demand may surge at different times in different sectors as the government gradually relaxes restrictions. North America recovered quickly from the Spanish Flu in 1918 which is the nearest equivalent experience but we didn’t have social media then! Be prepared for opportunity.
Weeks under house arrest will mean we want a change of scenery and someone, anyone to prepare our food. Hotels, B&Bs, and restaurants may not see themselves at the forefront of recovery now but they could be with appropriate precautions. First, however, we will want the hairdresser, nail salon, dry cleaner, and auto shop – the idle car can’t be trusted for a long trip. Others will not want to spend another minute in that house or apartment. These vendors and service providers all need materials – where does your business figure in this supply chain?
Tables may need to be further apart, and temperatures checked at the door but before long we will want color-coordinated hand gel dispensers, designer face marks (that’s already here), self-sanitizing surfaces, thin fashion gloves and phone apps that remind us to socially distance, to wash our hands, and that track contacts …..and so it will begin.
Recovery is likely not going to drip feed improvement. Consumers will want things to get back to where they were in a hurry. Assess potential beneficial scenarios and outcomes in which you could participate – think timing, products, and customers. Will the market for old you continue to exist?
Think of the craft brewer who turned his business to producing hand sanitizer, the plastics fabricator who turned their 3D printers to producing face shields, and road line painters who now deploy their sprayers to sanitizing public spaces?
What resources will you need and how easy will it be to modify and scale? Those that defaulted to layoff typically take 20% longer to recover. The labor pool for certain skills will remain shrunk; boomers fearing continued exposure will not return, others may want to continue working at home
The Wall Street Journal recently estimated 71% of the US economy was still operating. We know Amazon and Wal-Mart are recruiting in the hundreds, big tech is likely to be bigger than ever, transportation, grocers, remote IT, data backup, home improvement, and the M&A industry are holding their own or even growing.
Things we considered impossible have come to pass – the old rules no longer apply – go for it!
Need a Yoda? We can help. We have seen a catastrophe or two and know a thing or two and prior solutions will continue to have a role. In the great recession, we worked without fees supporting clients through difficult times. We plan to do so again through telephone consultations, The Recovery blog, The Business Health Council and our Advisory Board on Demand; a service to CEOs facing challenges that don’t have an advisory board.
Photo by Ussama Azam on Unsplash