I recently received an email from a concerned client regard the future of the economy and the current recession. Understanding how unsettling predictions from the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) that another dip is bound to occur within the next 90 days, it’s difficult to stay optimistic with gloomy forecasts.
As a business owner, the pressures of keeping profitable in any economic climate extend beyond self-preservation, but also to your employees and customers. The tone you set during the worst of economic times will be reflected in your employees’ ability to continue to provide excellent customer service and work to improve the company in general. It also affects consumers’ confidence in your company’s ability to continue serving them.
When business gets slower due to economic times, some businesses are tempted to add other areas of service or products to what they offer. For example a sheet rock contractor that is well-known for installing sheet rock and tapping and texturing, might be tempted to offer installing doors and trim to the general contractors in order to pick up more work. Here’s some of the challenges for the company in the above example to overcome in order to succeed:
- What are the setup costs to be able to actually do this additional work and do it well enough to continue being hired for the work?
- With other experienced companies who already provide this service/product struggling to get hired, how do you expect to be selected instead of them?
- Is the service/product something you’re just able to do, or something you are extremely well at doing?
I was on a construction site recently, and was surprised to see the poor quality of workmanship throughout much of the building. Several tape joints in the sheet rock were visible through the paint and texture in every room in the building and the spray on texture was not very even on the walls. I heard one of the sub-contractors comment on the quality, saying “Yup, this is definitely a John Doe job!” I asked what all John Doe had done in the building and after the list was finished – it was about five different things – I stated, “So, a Jack-of-all-Trades, is he?” To which the sub-contractor quickly replied, “And, definitely Master of None.”
Which leads me to the question every business needs to ask themselves: Are you a ‘Master’ of your trade, or a ‘Jack’ of many? The biggest comfort you can offer yourself when approaching or wading through times of difficulty is knowing that you are not only extremely good at what you do, but also that many others – especially your customers – consider you to be the best at what you do.
Right now, it is the potential employee with a strong, consistent resume meeting all the requirements and credentials an employer desires who is getting hired. Right now, the contractors with several years experience and good reputations for what they do that are getting rewarded contracts. Right now, it is the companies who are staying vertically focused on their ability to serve their target market that are succeeding in maintaining and even growing their businesses.
The best way to grow your business during difficult economic times is to focus on the needs of the customers you know how to serve the best and make sure you are getting as much of that market share as possible. Stay confident, be bold, be seen and SUCCEED!