Develop a contingency plan

Dave Commander hasn’t been around for Russell Marine’s entire 50-year history, but in his six years with the company, this is the toughest time he’s faced.
Commander, vice president of marketing for Russell Lands, Russell Marine’s parent company, says what it takes to last a long time in business is pretty simple: You need a plan.
“To get through bad times, what you really need is a good plan, one that’s very realistic,” he explains. “And in times like we’re having right now, not only do you need a good plan, you need a contingency plan.”
In the early fall, when Russell Marine realized business was going to be bad, it revised its business plan. After looking through every line item on the budget, expenses were revised downward, and a contingency plan was outlined in case of further drops in revenue.
The preparation continued in December, when a strategic planning session was held that included brainstorming further revenue-generating and cost-cutting ideas.
Managers then reviewed the ideas with their employees in an attempt to generate additional suggestions. So far, the company has come up with 20 key initiatives to increase revenue and 20 key expense controls.
Commander says extra revenue can come from a variety of sources. Dealers can invest in advertising to get more from their service business or look for ways to generate additional revenue when people come in for winterization.
Hot accessories can bring in additional cash, and parts businesses can be expanded by offering inventory to other dealers to help them sell product.
The real key, he says, is to plan ahead and be realistic about it.
“The people who are saying, ‘Well, it’s going to be better in three months,’ are probably the people who won’t be here tomorrow,” Commander concludes.
— Mike Davin

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