Few of us will be insulated from the looming downturn. Demand is not likely to increase...for anyone anytime soon. It's already started in my neighborhood...Lazy Boy...out of business, Linens and Things...out of business, Circuit City and Sharper Image...going, going, gone. So, what to do. Lower price? Cut expenses? Lay-off staff? Perhaps. Unfortunately, these aren't new, big ideas...just about everyone will be doing it. And, if that's all you've got to compete with...you'll probably lose too. But, fortunately for you, while most of your competitors built bank accounts and milked the cow during good times, you saved some, reinvested in the business, fine tuned your craft, developed meaningful customer relationships and built something remarkable. Now, because you're not average, because you have a loyal audience that trusts you, it's your turn to smile. Now, you can step on the gas...fuel the story...give people new reasons to rave about you.
- Maintain Your Service Edge- Do more to move away from sameness. Greet people at the door, not from behind a desk or podium. Answer the phone like every call meant life or death. Give children more than crayons. Do more...otherwise, price is your only weapon...not good.
- Protect existing customer relationships...at all cost- Do not let a competitor lure your customer away with a "better deal". You know they'll try. Call them now, invite them to lunch, show them how much you care...ask them what you can do to help them through the down cycle...treat them like they're grown-ups. Point is...be attentive. And, do it first.
- Execute, Execute- You're already remarkable. Now, make it better. That doesn't mean spend a pile of money. That means...think, stretch, demand a higher level from everyone on your team.
- Add More Value- Not by lowering price. Instead, use interesting, meaningful packaging...things someone will get excited over and talk about.
- Sell- Don't Spin...Sell. There's a huge difference. Selling is an art...getting someone who wants to hear from you comfortable with an idea. It's not pestering everyone to convince them they can't find something better...maybe they're not looking.
Unfortunately, none of this works so well if you've been average all along and have no story to sell. Spin-ups and gimmicks aren't good plays, especially in bad times. So, if you're in that boat, sorry...it's probably too late.