I hail from Chicago, city of almost 3 million, with over 9 million in the Chicago Metropolitan area making it 3rd largest in the US. Along with people comes traffic – lots of it.
Usually I leave the office a little later in order to avoid the “heaviest traffic” but it’s still always busy. As of late, I’ve been breezing home enjoying the open road. The first time it happened I was thrilled. It’s not often that there aren’t too many cars on the road so when it happens it’s an unexpected gift. After a couple of times it hit me. Where are these people? Well, they are home. No job.
With over 25 years in business under my belt, this isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed something bad happening in the economy. There have certainly been interesting times. No matter how many of these that you go through, they are never fun and the strategy is always the same. Stay afloat through it all, plan and come out better in the end. It actually works every-time and this time will be no different. Ask anyone who has been through it before.
Hopefully everyone has already been working on the “stay afloat” part during the course of normal business. This is not something that can be easily put into place now. Everyone’s business plan should focus on elements that will keep you going should the world suddenly turn on your strong marketing and sales plans. It has to do with running mean and lean during good as well as bad times.
Companies have to be efficient and they have to cultivate a good database. Extravagance presents a very big price. Of course all of the “dead weight” and “low producing” personnel will have to go immediately. Core people must stay. Never get rid of the good ones. It’s more expensive long-term to let them go. We will leave it at that.
Business today will consist of loyal customers that you have treated well during the good times and some cherry-picked prospects that you have been classifying so that they are easily accessible now. Hopefully, all of the data that you are working with in your automated system is well categorized and classified. This is extremely important when qualified prospects are lean and you need to target your best options. This will keep us all afloat.
Next is the plan. The one sure thing about the economy is that it will for certain get better at some point. The survivors who have planned for this will benefit most. The worst thing that you can do is only focus on now. Think of the future. Take this time to plan for the future. Gather as much information as possible from solid, qualified applicants. Get as many resumes as possible. This information must be organized and cataloged in the database so that it is accessible fast when the job orders start pouring in. Job orders will pour in because once things get better everyone will want to get back into the swing of things as quickly as possible.
Another part of the plan is to keep in touch and gather information from qualified client prospects. Get the information now, organize it and access it to market to the best prospects later. This is major. On the agenda should be regular contact with these prospects in the form of calls, emails, letters, postcards, etc. Anything that you can do to keep your company in direct contact with the prospect throughout this time will yield huge dividends later. Calls are difficult but power calling is a necessity. You may even dig up a few immediate orders. One of our customers called us about a good candidate a few weeks ago and we hired the candidate within days. Someone is always buying it’s just a matter of finding them.
Your automated solution should be able to easily accommodate all of your power marketing with planners, coding, searching and documentation of notes. Import resumes effortlessly with automation so that you can spend time on more urgent matters. Use automation as much as possible to enhance your marketing and sales efforts. If you do not have the proper automation, now is the time to put it into place. Internally, our company is getting all of the “this and that’s” in order that we never have time to do when business is pouring in. This is what gives companies the power to take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves soon. It’s a fact that time goes fast.
As painful as these times might be, every strong company comes out better in the end. Weak competitors will shake out and leave more for those that are left. Those that were solid and efficient will survive. Not having job orders is no worse than having too many job orders and too few qualified candidates. Either way you can’t fill it. This is why it is really important to work on getting everything in place. It’s a terrific time to build and clean up the database, possibly plan on adding new product lines, strategize to capitalize on new opportunities and train internal employees.
Heavy traffic? I can’t wait. I love traffic. I’ll be ready for it. And so will you.
This article made an appearance in the March/April 2009 issue of staff digest Magazine. www.staffdigest.com
Terri Roeslmeier is President of Automated Business Designs, Inc., software developer of Ultra-Staff staffing software for the staffing and direct hire industry. Ultra-Staff is a staffing software business solution with components for front office, back office and the web. Terri’s email address is TAR@abd.net or for more information on Ultra-Staff go to www.abd.net