A lot of our clients are reaching out and asking us what should they be thinking about during the current pandemic what are lessons they can learn - what should they do if this happens again. I can't help but think of the old adage that says “never let a good crisis go to waste.” I think back to the playbook that we created back in 2008 and 2009. What lessons did we learn and how those lessons could be just as applicable now. There were three items I remember clearly. Cost minimization, cross-training, and succession planning.
Any time is a good time to look at reducing your fixed costs but especially now, during a crisis. It may be time to ask your vendors just like our customers are asking us. Can you sharpen your pencil? What can you do on your contracts? Do you have any pay plans that have duplication? Are you paying for the same thing twice? Asking these questions and going ahead and addressing that fixed cost can help you now especially with uncertain revenue, and uncertain inventory levels. There's so much that we can't control so going ahead and controlling what we can, can help us now but also help us once things turn around
Just like we saw from 2010, cross training your employees is another item to consider. If you're just looking for workforce flexibility you could also think of how does that play well with the current pandemic. For instance, if you have an employee that has to go home because they tested positive for COVID-19 - do you have to quarantine the entire department or do you have other employees that can step into that same role? Just like we looked at transitioning direct sales to customer facing sales to online sales, maybe it's time to look at cross-departmental as well.
Then lastly, look at your succession planning in this crisis or in any crisis. Build your team so that you're not managing the burden of navigating leadership by yourself. As you're building that team and identifying your key employees, perhaps it's also time to consider your succession plan. Who's going to run the store after you and what is your plan to transition ownership? Now could be the best time to go ahead and formalize those succession plans.
Even if you're looking at cost minimization, cross-training, succession planning or other items, going ahead and having a disciplined approach as you consider this crisis can be the playbook that you bring back for the next one.