Coping with the ‘Recession’

Regardless of whether you think there’s going to be a recession, and the news media are doing their best, at least in the USA, to talk businesses into thinking recession.

So, we are going to give you some tips for coping, other than selling your business and repairing to Monte Carlo, Belize or the Caymans.

  1. Push product and service improvements. We know this sounds counterintuitive, but it goes against what your competition is probably doing. Good luck finding a bank to finance these, unless you already have strong banking relationships.
  2. Take a look to see if you are using all the marketing tools available to you. Websites, in our humble opinion, are generally still lacking. Customer test them
  3. Reinforce to all your people, whether they’re customer facing or not, that they’ve got to be customer oriented and friendly. This doesn’t mean that the customer is always right, but that the customer always gets a hearing.
  4. Take a look at process improvements. There are companies out there that will take a look at how your company does things for free, if you engage them to fix things, but your organization might be resistant. Talk to your key people about who you’re using and why.
  5. Go into new territories….use Google to enhance local searches.
  6. Add respresentatives. If they’re good, you can get them for commission only. They should rep complimentary lines.
  7. If you do all of these improvements, you should at least double your growth rate!
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Strategies to End Cash Flow Insommnia

Inc. Magazine put this article out this month, but it’s some some rather unusual statements beyond the 3 reasons, so we’ll editorialize on their headings.

  1. Making payroll: Inc. would like you to use just-in-time workers, but in a full employment economy, I’m not sure this is practical. I don’t see any pools of people outside Home Depot anymore. If anything, keep your workers on even though cash flow is tight….you don’t want to lose them. Inc. also advocates missing your own paycheck, which I’ve done, or moving it around as cash flow permits. Wives are not fond of this strategy.
  2. Paying outstanding bills. Yes, of course you should pay them, but try to get early payment discounts, or let them run to term on net payment. Stay on top of receivables
  3. Sustaining inventory levels. This is interesting, because it might be harder to get supplies in a full employment economy, so keep inventory higher than you might. You might also be able to negotiate discounts for continuous shipments, if you know you’re going to use the parts or supplies.
  4. Really stay on top of receivables….you don’t want to be a bank for anyone, unless you’re charging them for it. Offer fast payment discounts….which should really work.
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Mad Dog’s Maxims For Leadership

Gen. James Mattis has written an excellent book on leadership, called Call Sign Chaos, (the name Mad Dog was given him by some admiring troops in the Gulf War). If you can get through the military jargon and campaigns, there are some excellent ideas on leadership:

  1. Lead from the front….be right there with your people on the front lines, let them know that you support them. He didn’t always get along with his superiors, but they knew his sterling record, and gave him a lot of leeway to accomplish his tasks.
  2. Get rid of poor performers….at one point, Mattis writes a 3 page letter to an enlisted person he cashiered from the Marine Corps. Even when he had 25,000 people under his command.
  3. Make sure your leadership style evolves, as your organization grows. Mattis went from commanding a platoon of 24 to commanding entire Marine regiments of 50,000 plus. He had to learn how to lead through others, and trust the others.
  4. Your people will trust you if you trust them. Mattis acknowleges making mistakes in command, and some of his subordinates made mistakes, but he stood buy them as long as they 1) acknowleged their mistakes and 2)didn’t make the same mistake twice.
  5. Mattis used to write ‘Commanders Intent’ emails that outlined what he wanted to do in a battle, and all the troops had a copy, so there was no mistaking what he wanted from them and what the final outcome would be. A business owner could do the same when embarking on a new marketing campaign. Mattis used to get useful suggestions from everyone (CHAOS stands for Colonel Has Another Outstanding Suggestion), which he funnelled through the chain of command, except when the chain wasn’t working, and he relieved someone of their duty.

The book is well worth the $22.00 at Barnes and Noble!

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Student Loan Debt

Just saw a long article in the Phoenix Business Journal out the overhang that student loan debt is doing to the kids with the student loan problem.

It’s apparent that none of them did much, if any planning about what would happen after they incurred the debt. There’s a failing on the part of the high schools and community colleges, and especially guidance counsellors who are supposed to prevent this sort of thing.

I didn’t see any reporting about the choice that the kids made to even go to college, much less was it worth it.

Personally, having had two kids that went through college and were bettered by it (both pursued majors they could use in business), I wonder who is advising these kids in high school or community college that going to a four year college is a good idea.

It so happens that I run a Meetup called Growth Group which is dedicated to personal problems like these. The next meeting is October 7th, at 6 pm at the Denny’s, US 60 and Rural. Stop in, have a green slushie and we’ll discuss your situation. Odds are we can figure something out.

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How to Clear 1 MM Immigration Case Backlog

We put our thinking hats on, and came up with the idea for a business, or a government division that could clear the backlog, based on the fact that we spend about $75,000 per illegal chasing, and prosecuting them for illegal entry into the country.

  1. We know where they are, based on the paperwork they submitted at the time they came in, so Immigration and Naturalization (or whatever the agency is, issues registered letters to the last known address that they put on their immigration papers. Give them a little budget for this task, or hire a government contractor skilled in skip tracing.
  2. Each immigrant is issued a court date in the local justice court of the locality where he/she is supposed to be residing. If they don’t report, they become more of a felon.
  3. If the papers come back, then you know they’re in the wind somewhere and let the local police take over. A process server costs about $20 per service, less in volume.
  4. If they show up for their court date, fine them, have the judge ask them what they think they could contribute to the country, and if he or she doesn’t like the answer, deport them to their native country.
  5. The government might employ a skip tracing call center to find them by phone, if there is one on the paperwork.

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C’Mon GM, SWOT Yourself

It appears that GM has rather lost its way. 55,000 workers are striking its us plants over higher wages and benefits, which now average $63 per hour.

It’s been awhile since I was at Ford, but back in the day, benefits were about 25% of the total pay package. If that’s true, then the AVERAGE worker is making about $40 per hour, which equates to something like $80,000 per year to build cars.

That’s about 25% more than the workers get in non union plants dotting the South that are building Hondas, Mercedes and BMWs.

What this means is that GM has got to move upmarket in the cars and trucks that it builds in the US. Trucks aren’t the problem, other than the GM truck products routinely get poorer reviews than their counterparts at Ford and FiatChrysler.

Ford figured out the wage/product conundrum a few years ago, and builds nothhing but Mustangs. SUVs and trucks in North America. And hasn’t roused The Donald’s ire lately. But they need to make more money, averaging, apparently only 2% of sales in gross profits. The problem is probably poor capacity utilization…I think their recent marketing has been pretty good.

Fiat Chrysler builds Dodge rockets and trucks in their assembly plans, which they can do at only $50 per hour pay and benefits.

So, Ms. Barra, it’s time to shake up your management.: fire all your product managers who aren’t in the right SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) buckets. Do some serious product evals against Ford and Dodge/Chrysler.

Get YOUR crew going.

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Fox Fatheads

Speficially, Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity.

The business case for these two at Fox News is probably excellent….both probably lead their time segment on Fox, which leads among networks, so they make, and are paid, lots of money.

But, by Friday, I think they’re worn out and just talking for the sake of talking….too long intros, interruptions of certain guests (mostly women and lesser known talking heads). Hence the term fathead….in jocular parlance, someone whose head has increased in size.

Personally, Friday is the best time for me to sit down and listen to what they have to say. But, they’re clueless. Tucker Carlson and Martha McCallum are just as interesting on Friday as the rest of the week.

Dobbs and Hannity get the best guests, because of ratings. They don’t deserve them, because they both interrupt their guests after asking a question.

So, what’s to be done? I’ve left comments in this post’s vein with Fox Corporate in New York (888-369-4762), as have others I’m sure, and on Monday D and H are better.

So, have at it. Our foreign readers probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but humor me on this post.

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Beware Google!

Just watched a Mark Levin interview of Dr. Epstein, a psychology professor, talking about the political bias inherent in Google searches.

Apparently, Google leans politically leftward, so any searches you do for conservative or mainstream candidates might be altered, or directed to leftward leaning candidates.

We haven’t noticed this, but we’ve not done any political searches for anyone recently.

Also, Bing does not have any such political bias, so be aware.

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Recession Bushwa

Well, the media is all in a lather about an impending recession. Bushwa is a socially acceptable word for bull***.

We don’t buy recession talk. We think we might be seeing a slowdown in growth, but that’s it. Our clients have not, by and large slowed a bit.

One of them said to me the other day, the only constraint on me is lack of quality people to work. If he had more, he’d grow more. He can streamline processes a bit, but not much.

Where are we going to get more folks? Maybe some more coming back into the labor force. Maybe some more from immigration. The immigrants have to have some skills, though.

If the USA were to do my border questionnaire, that might be a start in matching people with jobs. If they’re matched, buy ’em a plane ticket and find ’em a place to live, even if it is at the YMCA until they get settled.

If they have friends and family in their resettlement area, so much the better.

Have them check in with an immigration or customs officer in the area when they get there, and keep track of the immigrants. Let’s make ’em feel welcome.

It’s called ‘onboarding’ in the private sector.

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Bizarre Customer Service

Recently, I wrote a customer service blog praising serveral large companies on good or better customer service.

Then, there’s Verizon, my cell phone carrier.

Used to be that if you were late on a payment, you just called in, let them know that you were making a payment, how much it was, and maybe the check number.

No digital nonsense. I don’t think all these geniuses realize how insecure the digiital world is.

No threats to turn off your cell service.

I want them to go back to the old method, before some IT consultant probably ‘fixed’ their system.

So, it’s now longer, not customer friendly, and takes more time.

This is NOT PROGRESS!

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