December '19

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rv-pro.com December 2019 • RV PRO • 71 Asbury, founder of Elevate Coaching and Consulting in Trinity, N.C. "Unprepared businesses are left with fewer options when tough times arrive – and those options are usually bad ones." Early steps to retool business operations can often return rich dividends in the form of a stronger bottom line long before the recession actually hits. And once the eco- nomic downturn does begin, a company's lean and mean machine can beat the com- petition, according to experts. "With the right preparation, an eco- nomic downturn can be more of an opportunity than a problem," says Lisa Anderson, president of LMA Consulting Group in Claremont, Calif. "While less capable businesses fall by the wayside, your own business can expand its cus- tomer base." Bonus tip: Businesses that prepare for a recession tend to pull ahead during and after a slowdown, according to Harvard Business Review. Plan for Growth So, what to do, exactly? Above all, business owners should avoid the common mistake of undisciplined cost-cutting, as experience proves that businesses can't simply save their way out of a crisis, according to business experts. "Focus on expanding your business – not on just cutting back," says Cliff Ennico, an attorney and business consultant in Fair- field, Conn. As business owners approach a recession, they should strengthen their market position by developing initiatives to win new customers, he adds. Businesses selling more to their existing market – and expanding it – need not be expensive. Companies often can likely ferret out new ways to get more from their current clients, according to experts. What's more, rationalizing current resources often translates into a reduction of expenses, according to McQuaig, with the consulting firm McQuaig and Welk. "Every business suffers from costly fat that tends to grow over the years, espe- cially during long periods of growth," he says. "Now is the time to identify where your people are wasting their efforts and how your operations can be made more efficient. Is an entrenched bureaucracy, for example, slowing your customer response time?" Rationalizing a company's opera- tions can unleash unrealized poten- tial, according to Asbury, with Elevate Coaching and Consulting. "Most businesses have a lot more capacity than they realize," he says. Unlocking efficiencies will help shorten your backlog and allow you to process orders more quickly. At the same time, he says, business owners can become a more reliable supplier: "A shorter lead time can land more initial orders. Then, your on-time delivery and quality can cultivate loyal repeat customers." Here's another way to increase capacity: Leverage the digital revolu- "Good businesses make money in good times and bad. While there is no recession-proof business, the winners are those who adapt best to challenging conditions." – Cliff Ennico, attorney and business consultant tion. A recent Harvard Business Review study found that successful companies tend to use funds from reduced oper- ating budgets to invest in productivi- ty-boosting technology. But wait: Isn't a recession on-ramp the wrong place to increase spending? Not if it results in a more profitable operation, according to McQuaig. "Doubling down may seem counter- intuitive, but it can be the best way to prepare for a recession," he says. Bonus tip: Remember the adage, "You can't cut your way out of a recession." Control Cash Flow A recession can send a company's normal revenue rhythms into a tailspin. "My first concern for any business antic-

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