December '19

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74 • RV PRO • December 2019 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S financing relationship," says Feiman. "Tell the institution you will not be making them your primary source today, but you want to start a relationship that leads to their stepping up to the plate, if and when they are needed. Consider starting a small account to encourage their commitment." Trimming unproductive fixed costs and wasteful expenses are both great ideas. But avoid the common tempta- tion to short-change marketing, business experts advise. "While you need to be careful and strategic in what you spend, promotion and advertising and growth-related ini- tiatives are mandatory – even before and during a recession," says Joel G. Block, president of Bullseye Capital, a manage- ment consultancy in Agoura Hills, Calif. "If you neglect them, your business will not continue to grow. You will potentially shrink into oblivion." Bonus tip: Sell unneeded assets now – using the cash to pay down debt and reduce leverage. Enlist Your Employees When the downturn inevitably hap- pens, business experts say owners can "With the right preparation, an economic downturn can be more of an opportunity than a problem. While less capable businesses fall by the wayside, your own business can expand its customer base." – Lisa Anderson, president of LMA Consulting Group make combatting its impact on the com- pany a team effort by enlisting the ener- gies and ideas of their employees. "When it comes to personnel, the biggest downside is a lack of communi- cation," says Anderson, with LMA Con- sulting Group. "Keep your employees in the loop by letting them know that economists are predicting a recession. But rather than causing panic by casting the economic downturn as a bad thing, present is as an opportunity to gain market share by spending more time with customers, solving their problems, and convincing them your firm will be around while competing (companies) fall by the wayside." Brainstorming with a company's staff can sometimes uncover hidden trea- sures, according to Feiman, with Built It Backwards. "Employees have a vital perspective on the market because they are so close to customers," he says. "Encourage them to speak up with their ideas." This also is a good time to build flex- ibility and agility into the workforce, according to Anderson. "Cross-train skills so you can move people around in response to unantic- ipated shifts in the workload when the recession arrives," she says. "And also con- sider utilizing temporary labor to fill in the gaps, performing any work duties you are not sure will carry into the future." Resist the temptation to trim the workforce too deeply when hard times arrive, advises McQuaig with McQuaig and Welk. "While cost-cutting can be important when preparing for a recession, try to keep your trained workforce in place," he says. "Many times companies cut their staffs too deeply, then cannot recover after a recession because skilled workers are not in place to regenerate revenue." Bonus tip: When a recession hits, eschew morale-busting layoffs in favor of more productive labor-saving adjust- ments such as hour reductions, furloughs, part-time positions, and performance pay. Retool & Recharge While no one is happy when the "While you need to be careful and strategic in what you spend, promotion and advertising and growth-related initiatives are mandatory – even before and during a recession. If you neglect them, your business will not con- tinue to grow. You will potentially shrink into oblivion." – Joel G. Block, president, Bullseye Capital economy softens, a downturn can serve to reveal opportunities for making your business stronger and more profitable, according to Ennico, the attorney and consultant. "View the recession as an opportu- nity – not a threat," he says. "Take the time now to ask how you can expand your business when the downturn arrives – even though you will not be making as fat a margin. What are the services and businesses you can get into without too much change? How can you show cur- rent and new customers you are willing to better meet their needs?" Above all, he advises, be flexible. "Good businesses make money in good times and bad," says Ennico. "While there is no recession-proof business, the winners are those who adapt best to chal- lenging conditions."

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