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IWF Education: After Covid-19 – Who Will be Left Standing?

1. May 2020 10:33


Christine Corelli offers 5 of her popular management sessions at IWF 2020. Learn more and register>>

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By: Christine Corelli, President: CHRISTINE CORELLI & ASSOCIATES, INC.

Considering the enormous challenges the coronavirus has brought upon manufacturers, cabinetry shops, other businesses in the woodworking industry, you can't help but wonder: Who will be left standing? 

When this is over, there will be ten characteristics that identify organizations that stood the test of time. These companies tackled the uncertainty of Covid-19 and employed sound business practices that ensured future business growth even in the most challenging business climate. The following are actions they may have taken. 

  1. Business slowed down, but strategic planning sessions sped up. The smartest people in their company, regardless of title or rank, participated in these sessions using video-conferencing. They looked at their business operations as if they were unbiased outside consultants. Together, they acknowledged the harsh realities their companies were facing and identified actions that would help drive business growth and ensure long-term profitability after the coronavirus and its implications ended. They knew they would have to accept that business has changed, and had to plan carefully, all the while realizing they would likely have to shift gears along the way if their plans or strategies did not get the desired outcome. They cut costs, and furloughed people, because they had no choice, but kept their people involved.

They addressed their company's strengths and weaknesses and identified critical action steps along the way to achieving their goals. They devised and implemented relationship strategies aimed at helping them win over customers. They focused on positioning their sales staff as their indispensable business partners to their customers and made sure their sales teams stayed in touch with prospects and past customers to offer any help or advice. Most importantly, they changed the way they think, accepted and adapted to the dramatic changes that were occurring, and made a group commitment to meet their challenges head-on. The vowed not to get stuck in the past and to help all employees become positive about the future. To ensure regular commitment to the mission at hand, they planned periodic meetings with their workforce and management retreats to evaluate progress. 

  1. Complacency was the enemy.The successful companies challenged the Status Quo and took risks – not frivolously, but supported by rational decision-making. They researched top-performing woodworking companies, encouraged idea-sharing among employees working from home by offering rewards for the best ideas – even from the ones they had to lay-off. They adopted even bolder marketing and advertising strategies, branded their customer service, and competitively funded their communications campaigns. They figured out how to reinvent their entire business to become nimble, more flexible, more customer-focused, and more diversified. They promoted their environmental consciousness in their marketing and public relations campaigns. 
  1. They became value-added companies.  They realized and exploited the fact that much of the value they provided to customers was not only the quality of products and work but the superior knowledge they had to offer. They became value-added organizations, knowing how critical their expertise was to their bottom line. They helped their customers far more than any competitor, knowing that customers appreciated it during tough times. They talked to customers and reached agreement on priorities, actions, and outcomes. They established a VIP program for loyal customers who stuck with them. 
  1. They got serious about customer service.Every single aspect of the customer experience was analyzed. Service flaws were identified, and plans were made to eliminate them fast! Systems and procedures were streamlined so that the business ran like a well-oiled machine. Product support staff knew their performance was critical to the success and profitability of their organizations. Management made sure they understood their customers' business so they could anticipate their needs. They consistently brainstormed and implemented ways to improve their customers’ experience and upped the Wow Factor, keeping in mind that no detail was too small. They planned on how to put the “WOW” factor into their delivery of service. No detail was too small. 

Sales, marketing, and customer service departments worked hand-in-hand using video-conferencing. Together, the company and its people developed an obsession to deliver their best performance--with every customer, every day. They made plans to establish an even better reputation for consistently exceptional service. They knew customer confidence would increase, revenue would increase, and customers would become loyal advocates who helped spread the word.

  1. Technology helped these companies work faster than their competitors and closer to customers.They escalated their use of social media. Creativity was applied with each and every tweet, blog, Facebook post and You-Tube video. Their websites were far superior to their competitors and optimized for the highest search engine placement. Video clips were on their main page, throughout their site, and on how’ tos. They recognized great content was key. No stone was left unturned.
  1. They became learning organizations and learned faster than their competitors.They were constantly striving to improve their skills because they knew that when business was slow it might be the best time. Webinars were provided. Their sales teams studied and mastered every single aspect of Sales 101 and advanced sales training on negotiation, sales communication, and presentation skills. They became masters at building relationships with potential and existing customers. Leadership training was mandatory to ensure everyone would lead in the same way. Sales managers learned how to manage and motivate their teams.
  1. Every person in the company lived and breathed its core values.All leaders and employees consistently demonstrated and operated from the core values of honesty, integrity, teamwork, respect, excellence, accountability, social and environmental consciousness, health, safety, family, and other values intrinsic to their company's culture. Leaders recognized that employees observed their actions and behaviors during challenging times. They led by example, spoke with confidence, and set the tone for their employees to follow. Salespeople learned the exact words and phrases to influence customers to buy. 
  1. Executives and managers treated their people the same way they treat their best customers. Setting a good example as a servant leader was a strong key to their success. They fully realized that Businesses don't do business. People do business. It is the people in a company who will or will not carry an organization into a successful future.

Dynamic leadership, sales and customer service excellence and employee involvement in creating a high-performance culture became organizational cornerstones. Reward and recognition (including unexpected small monetary rewards) were also part of their culture. These companies had a Zero Tolerance for Bad Bosses. They knew that having great bosses and creating a great place to come to work each day was the best way to keep people motivated and performing at their best.

  1. Execution was a substantial part of their competitive strategy.The strong companies represented recognized that knowing what should be done and actually doing it are two very different things. They mastered the art of execution and established specific criteria for measuring excellence and ensuring accountability. Managers and employees were held to established service standards in every aspect of every role.
  1. They did not stop believing in themselves, their businesses, their people and a better future. They kept their eye on the prize.They had only one goal – to emerge from the fray as the winner, with their business stronger, more vibrant and, more prosperous that before, and with solid prospects for continued future growth and success. Successful companies took all of these steps, and many, many more—including other strategies and tactics learned they learned during educational sessions at IWF Atlanta.

You've Seen the Future—So What Will You Do?

The question you should be asking now is, "In the long run, will I still be standing? Am I doing the things now that will translate into a successful future? What do I need to change? What will happen if I don’t? 

If you are not sure of the answers, get moving on these ten strategies to help ensure your success for the long run. Overcoming the repercussions from the coronavirus won’t happen by itself. It takes the will power of an entire organization to succeed, and that starts at the top.         

To see more from Christine, register for one of the sessions she will presenting at the IWF 2020 Education Conference. Check out more about Christine and her sessions here. 

 ©Copyright, Christine Corelli & Associates

Christine an author, speaker, and consultant. She has been a popular presenter at past IWF events. To learn more, visit www.christinespeaks.com or call (847) 477-7376

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