The recession has been hard. For some it proved fatal. For us it was a wake up, and a shocking one.
We had a plan, and we think a good one. We were growing, and had a plan to continue that growth, but it was pretty much, ‘a bit more of the same’. When the recession hit, we had to think hard about the plan. ‘A bit more of the same’ would not work if the business declined by 40% which is the levels we saw at the start of the recession.
So, it shocked us in to action. We had to sit down and really work out what worked and what did not. We had to come with a new plan, but most of all we had to shake off complacency.
So here, we are now, almost 12 months on from the shock of banks collapsing and -40% sales. And we have survived. More than that sales are up, and we have grown share.
So the recession really did benefit us. We are stronger, fitter and healthier. We have a new more aggressive outlook, and a healthier future.
So what do we think the benefits are:
1. Growing in a declining market costs much less. Growing is horrifically expensive. More stock, more cash, more space, more staff. It eats money. Do it when the market is down and you can grow share with out the spend.
2. The competition became distracted. Some competitors cut back, reducing range and staff. That gave us opportunities.
3. We learnt to focus on the best customers. One of the first things to happen was poorly managed customers going bust. It has really tightened credit control and our views on who are the best people we want to work with.
4. We treat things with more respect. From forklifts in the warehouse, to the chairs and computers, people have started to feel respect for things. Everything is less disposable.
5. We learnt to look for value again. We have re-pitched all main items of expenditure, not necessarily giving the business to the cheapest, but the best.
6. We have slowed down and thought more.
Overall its been hard, and I don’t want another one, but It does have its benefits, if you get through it.