Business and financial planning in an economic downturn25th August 2008
As concerns over the UK economy continue to grow, it is essential that all businesses, are properly prepared for financially-testing times. Sound business and financial planning is always important, but especially so in an economic downturn.
The following few tips can help you weather the ‘credit-crunch’ storm (also check out our ten tips in our news section); but remember, there is no substitute for one-to-one discussion, so contact us today to give your business the best possible chance of success.
This is essential in an economic slowdown – you will soon encounter difficulties if you allow outstanding debts to accumulate, a problem which is all the more likely in lean times. Make sure you have a clear policy for collecting debts and that customers are aware of it. Above all, ensure you enforce it. Pursue outstanding debts with letters and telephone calls, and threaten legal action if you have to (Solicitors letters are very effective and cheap!).
Ensure that your terms of business allow for adding interest on overdue accounts (again a useful threat). If your terms set credit limits, stick to them and stop supplying as credit limits are reached or invoices go unpaid.
Take a look at our white papers.
Maintain customer loyalty
In difficult times it becomes harder to attract new customers. Therefore, it is more important than ever to maintain loyalty amongst your existing ones. Consider ways of developing and rewarding customer loyalty, such as selected discounts (especially for early payment), regular mailings or loyalty cards.
Beware of cutting prices
If receipts begin to taper off, it can be tempting to cut prices. But this can be a mistake. In a recession your costs will inflate and as a result you may be forced to raise prices to cover this expenditure. Cutting prices can also have the negative long-term effect of devaluing your image in the marketplace. Remember that suppliers might raise their prices as well, so try to negotiate a long-term discount or fixed prices with them.
Don’t skimp on marketing
The marketing budget is often the first casualty in a recession, but smart businesses continue to market through a downturn and position themselves to take full advantage of the upturn as soon as it starts. In tough times the marketplace becomes more competitive – you may need to market more vigorously, not less. If you do not have a strategic marketing plan, now is the time to draw one up.
Look after your employees
While job cuts may be necessary in some circumstances, you should always try to retain your key employees: their strengths will help you through an economic downturn, and you will need them when business picks up. You should use any dips in workload as an opportunity for key staff to develop new skills and coach newer members. Remember, employee motivation can rapidly deteriorate in times of economic uncertainty, so maintain good communication with your staff to prevent a decline in morale.
Planning is vital for the success of your business. Always remember the old saying: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. You need to plan the changes that can strengthen your enterprise against tough times, and how those changes will be put into action.
However, planning is not just about ‘worse case scenarios’ – you should always have an up to date strategic vision which flows through to a well thought through business plan with key actions and objectives. Our JUST ONE DAY strategic planning session is a great way to start the process, helping you see the wood from the trees - contact me to learn more!