Man alive, if ever there was a global stress test, surely this is it! How healthy are you? How healthy is your business? How secure is your job? How stable are your customers? At different points, we have all had to consider these questions from a variety of lenses without the benefit of past data or experiences to guide us.
In many ways, this is like getting a pop quiz on the first day of class on a new subject. Whether this is fair is irrelevant, as it certainly will hit and hurt many more than others. The challenge remains the same and goes to the core of all of our business. What value can we provide to our customers? What expenses are necessary to provide that value? What is the most efficient way to deliver that value?
Any established business has tried and true practices that you have followed in some ways without question. We have hired and trained not always because we HAD to but because there was a pain point or we forecasted a need. I have yet to speak to a business owner who has now not realized they were overstaffed and had waste within their processes. Every single company has seen this.
All this leads me to the test, what has changed in your business and how have these changes been realized?
The healthier the decision making process was within your company prior to this stress test, the more resilient and sustained your gains should have been during the crisis. When I say healthy, I am specifically talking about streamlined decision making. The more capable your downline employees and managers are, the faster they were able to respond to the data and changing processes required of their job. The further decisions are made upstream in your company, the longer it takes for the data and difficulties to reach your attention.
In my reading and journaling, I have 9 different changes I expect responsive companies to have either made or formalized in response to these challenges. The number that your company was able to achieve is directly tied to the number of decision makers, leaders and key employees you currently employ.
9 Changes for your COVID Test:
- Increased Delegation — Where are you able to expand the number of decision makers at your company to meet the increased demand from changes and problems being faced?
- Decreased Implementation Time — Did you allow for people to make changes and test results or did you see an increase in prolonged analysis before making changes? Increased iterations is a faster way to improve.
- Process Changes With Less Interactions — Whether employee to employee or employee to customer interactions, were you able to reduce the number of interaction points?
- Expense Evaluations — How long did it take you to analyze expenses?
- Strategically Pursuing Revenue — Opportunities for where your revenue comes from were changing, did you put together a strategic plan to adapt to shifting opportunities? How long did it take you to make this decision and implement a new plan?
- Adaptability of Staff and Processes — That’s not my job is a phrase I have heard from employees when asked to do something different. Who stepped up? Who made changes of their own accord? How easily were you able to change processes?
- Rethinking Value To Customers — How has customer’s expectations changed? How easy are your transactions? How do your remote transactions compare to other industries? No contact delivery? Direct ship options? Remote payment options?
- Automated Sequences/Processes — How have you adapted technology? Every company is a technology company to some extent. Is your data collection automated? Are emails, marketing, photos, inventory processes automated?
- Inventory Planning/Consistency — Do you binge buy or at least plan to carry heavier inventory going into the crisis? We all knew a shortage to some extent was coming. Always prepare and be proactive in planning for the worst. We can’t make inventory magically appear, we must buy steady or increase heading into a shortfall.
To varying degrees some of these components were parts of your business prior to this challenge. Now most or many of these will be commonplace going forward and if you have not passed these tests you will face stiff competition to catch up. Peer groups, on-site visits or at least strategic alliances with your fellow recyclers and state associations can help you catch up faster.
Robert Counts Chad Counts Rich Tyler Johnny Logel
Robert Counts, firstname.lastname@example.org; 512-693-6915
Chad Counts, email@example.com; 512-963-4626