3/26/20 “Emergency Business Planning for Local Business Leaders” Presentation

The following represent the notes and major takeaways from Bill Gilliland’s presentation “Emergency Business Planning for Local Business Leaders” on Thursday March 26th 2020.  The content is Mr. Gilliland’s (contact information at end of post). This information may be most useful to the employers we work with.

Step 1: Move from B.E.D. and become an O.A.R.

  • OAR- Recognize Opportunity, Be Accountable, Be readily Relatable
  • BED- Avoid Blame, Excuses, Denial
Step 2: Remain Calm
  • Lead your people
  • Look for small wins
  • Ask yourself and your team what business are we in…what can we be in?
  • Sometimes less news is better, set boundaries around how much news you take in
  • Change your plan from what it was in the beginning of the year.  There is a new reality now, what can you do to change your plan?
Step 3: Positive communication
  • “I don’t know” is OK, and lets your clients/customers/employees know you’re taking it seriously
  • What is the plan for after the crisis?  What can you do now to plan for when the quarantines end?
  • Operate with passion and enthusiasm, your team can tell, and will follow
  • Communicate with your customers, it’s not about sales right now, it’s about people
  • Stay positive in the community as business leaders.  Your optimism/positivity will be rewarded and needed by those who cannot be as positive right now
Step 4: Know that technology is the new norm
  • Work from home is often more productive, give your employees the ability to do so if you can
  • Remember you’re in the business of human management (they’re still people, who are scared, looking for positive influences. What can you address in your  policies (reports, meetings etc.) to reflect the new work from home reality?)
  • What metrics will you implement to know if your team is being successful?
  • Come up with plans for virtual customer service: Does your team have scripts to respond to calls? Do they know how to route calls? etc.
  • Learn the communication tools, do training (Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.)
  • This pandemic will last weeks or months, make plans now
Step 5: Cashflow management, cash will be king
  • Control costs- Look for recurring payments that could be cut to save costs
  • Work with your banker to extend credit lines, look at loans through SBA. What funds are available through new governmental programs?
  • Work with your suppliers and partners- Can you work a deal for longer term payments?  Can prices be adjusted?
  • What can be postponed? (Maintenance, building upgrades, purchases etc.)
  • Cost structures- What ways can you address costs to keep as many of your employees on payroll as you can? Can people be shifted into different roles? Could different hours accommodate more people?
Step 6:  Your people are important, get the most from them.
  • Encourage creativity, build trust
  • Change their mindset from fear to focus- What projects have been on the backburner that now can get more attention? Who could lead new teams, and what training would they need to do so? etc.
  • Adopt new standards where appropriate- What new metrics need to be adopted? What in the SOP is different with new work from home expectations?
  • Move people from cost center to profit center.  For example, restaurant servers who are now delivery drivers.
  • Train, and retrain  – The world will change as a result of this this virus. What can you train your team to do? What can you retrain on?
  • Establish guidelines for the next in command? Who’s the next one up if someone gets sick or sidelined?
  • Keep as many employees as you can. Hiring and training are huge capital expenditures.  Do whatever you can to keep the employees you already have.
Step 7: Marketing must shift
  • Keep marketing, continue your existing marketing, it means more now than ever
  • Message and tone will be different, but keep doing it. Example: Ingles “Thank you” campaign. They’re not focused on the sales of the week, they’re focused on how customers are keeping them in business, and how they’re working to hire those laid off in the community.
  • Be compassionate in messaging. See Ingles example above.
  • Try for virtual and viral- Market using content related messaging rather than offerings or services, and use video as much as possible for easy sharing
  • Know your numbers- what impact is the marketing having (leads, conversion, avg. ticket, repeat business, margins etc.) And then know what might need to shift as a result.
Step 8: Sell with compassion
  • How can you help? Sell that.  What can be free now that will pay off later?
  • Stay customer focused – what are their needs, and how can you address them?
  • Prospecting is not dead, be a resource, get on the phone
  • Increase don’t decrease (offerings, hours you’re available, etc.)
  • Now is the time to build relationships, customers will come from the relationships rather than the transaction
Step 9: Take care of existing customers
  • Get on the phones, call/skype/zoom, find out what’s up for them, offer to be a resource for them and their business
  • Go above and beyond, be of service. They will remember how you were there for them and be loyal as a result
  • Build loyalty with a critical non-essential.  Can you send a card/gift? What can you do to maintain relationships?
  • Be virtual and visible.  Just because you can’t be there in person, how can you be there for them, and how often?
  • Remember the 80/20 rule- 20% of your customers provide 80% of your business.  Focus on those that are the most closely related to your business
Step 10: You may have to change business model
  • Be adaptive, pivot if needed. Example, the alcohol manufacturer who is using their spirit to make hand sanitizer.
  • Work with small changes first. What is one percent change you can do 100 times? Rather than 100% change right now (See above, the alcohol manufacturer didn’t start producing asphalt, they did something small that addressed a need and stayed in their areas of expertise, and used existing stockpiles of materials.)
  • After this is over people will likely continue keeping distance, may need to adjust… For example, wedding venues might need to set chairs 5 feet apart for a while, until people are more comfortable.
  • Use this time to make your business better- What technology can you deploy now? How can you make your business more diverse?
  • Remember this formula: D x V + F > R (Dissatisfaction x Vision + First steps are greater than Resistance)  There is dissatisfaction in the market, how can you use that to multiply your vision and add first steps now, so that you overcome resistance to people using your business?
  • Business may have to change products/services/pricing/staffing levels.  Be open to that, with compassion for the people you’re working with
  • You might have to break something, that’s OK.  Your business might have to fundamentally change, be adaptable to that possibility
Step 11: Plan for 90 days at a time
  • What will you market and sell for the next 90 days?  5 and 10 year plans are useful, but not relevant right now.
  • Survive first then thrive- Everyone is in survival mode, connect, survive, then use those relationships to thrive later
  • Work with Action Coach to build a plan (free coaching meeting, contact information below)
Step 12: Look to invest
  • Spring always follows winter- Remember that and invest now if you can
  • Stock markets are off 30%, but they will regain their lost ground, buy at a discount
  • Companies and their assets will be for sale (often for a discount).  What can you buy now that you can turn into a profit center later?
  • Customers will be leaving other businesses, because those businesses didn’t adapt or keep their service mindset.  Be ready to connect with disaffected customers of other businesses.
Step 13 Set realistic expectations, don’t sugarcoat things
  • Over deliver on customer service. People will remember that
  • Put your people first where they can be more comfortable.  If they know they have a future with the organization, they’ll be more likely to help you build for the future
  • Be nice, remain calm, lead
  • Help people out- Don’t hoard items, contribute to society where you can.
  • Be proactive about recruiting- There are a lot of folks who are newly in the job market, what positions could you be recruiting for that would be interesting to them?
Bill Gilliland
Business Coach
540-290-2389 (cell)

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