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Seasons Greetings

What another strange year it has been! Businesses have coped once again with with economic, pandemic, business and Brexit uncertainty. The relatively smooth path we have saw over many years, with low interest rates, strong economic growth and soft borders is over. To add to the challenge, customers expect more and are more willing to move to the competition to get it. Some might describe that as less loyal, a complacent view in my opinion.

Hopefully by now your 2022 business planning is either complete or well under way. Any business that is planing a single scenario outcome is foolhardy at best, as are the Boards who accept it. Now is the time for a range of possible scenarios, say 3 - best, likely, worse case. Each one should be considered and proper financial plans mapped against them including of course, cash flow scenarios.

Then there should be scenario 4 - let’s call it the ‘disaster’ plan. Sadly many businesses were found completely unprepared for the pandemic, it could never happen surely? Don‘t make the same mistake twice! Try a 50% revenue scenario - scary but it will make you look hard at your costs!

So what should you do? There is no simple answer but here are a few suggestions:

  1. Take a good hard look at your customer experience. Is it delivering what for them? Do you know? Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and see what it feels like for them. Listen to calls, not to catch out the agents but to see what pain your processes are causing your customers. I will bet you will be shocked.

  2. Get a grip on your costs. In times of strong growth, naturally we allow costs to rise to support the growth. It’s much harder to cut back costs so it needs a plan and early action. Look at the ‘teeth to tail’ ratio of your business - how many people are not directly supporting customers versus those who are. Has the ratio got worse? Are all new roles adding the value they promised? Super that all the Directors have PA’s - needed, probably not, set the example.

  3. Cut the discretionary spend. Many businesses use this as a lever of last resort - start early - you can always spend more later if the business plan is on track.

  4. Evaluate your people properly. One or the really hard tasks and often needing the help of the Remco to provide independence and challenge. Undertake a rigorous review of all senior management (dig down two layers) using a standard methodology. Look for the real stars ‘diamonds in the rough’ - those who sit below the radar, those who have not been in the office, those who are the unseen heroes. For me, anyone can be good for a year, sustained excellence is the key. Most importantly, use data to support the subjectivity! Peer review and if necessary force rank! Mandy in accounts might be your best talent - does she know? What are you doing about it?

  5. Do you have the right skills? Whilst we all love Martin from Marketing, you know salt of the earth kinda bloke, fun to be with, knows our business really well, liked by everyone, been around for ages. Is he really capable? When did he last undertake any continuous development? Ask him his views of social media and which channels are best for your business, if the answer is they don't really work for our industry, time to wonder if you have the right person at the marketing helm.

May I wish you good health and happiness and for your business a successful and prosperous 2022. If you need a little help do reach out.


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