Overcoming instinct

Liz WalzAs evolved as humans are, there’s still plenty of evidence that we’re driven in part by animal instincts. Just look at our reaction to the threats posed by the downturn. Many of us, like possums, have responded by curling up and playing dead. We’ve cancelled all unnecessary activities, we’re spending as little money as possible to keep the business alive, and we’re waiting for the threat to pass. Others of us are like the big jungle animals. When we’re threatened, we stand taller, we beat our chests, we roar in the face of fear. But neither of those strategies has been very effective against this particular threat.

This recession has been a patient opponent. It knows that the possum can only live so long in such a dormant state. Without marketing and events to remind customers of what their dealership – and the boating lifestyle – has to offer, those customers will turn elsewhere or give up on boating altogether. It also is waiting out the jungle animals. How long can the lion roar and the ape beat its chest? Those that went into the recession overconfident, refusing to cut staff, marketing and events or adjust plans for improvement and expansion probably ran out of cash a while ago.

The best strategy is somewhere in the middle. More than ever before, we need to remind customers of why they love boating and why they’ve chosen to do business with us. And we need to conserve the fuel that our business runs on – cash – as if today’s shortage will go on for years. There are many creative ways companies are endeavoring to do both. My next blog will touch on one of my favorites: collaboration.

What creative solutions has your business found for combating the downturn? How have you collaborated with your peers, your suppliers and even your customers to share costs, promote your business and delight your customers?

One comment

  1. Liz,

    A couple of items for your list:

    1. Horizontal diversification. As fabricators of yacht interior cabinetry and furniture, we’ve reached out as sub-contractors into the commercial and military sectors.

    2. Creative payroll reductions. We’ve looked to key personnel to accept equity/minority-ownership positions in our company in lieu of earned bonuses, vacation pay, and/or work furloughs.

    Only time will tell how successful such moves have been. But for now, we’re alive and kicking.

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