Through this last year, businesses have been weathering the storm regarding supply chain issues, a tightening labor market, and inflation. Most of the leaders that I’ve spoken to have done OK in managing through these headwinds. Some have done way better than OK, and others not so much. At a recent conference, my good friend and former colleague, Andy Paparozzi, shared his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities that face our industry in the upcoming quarters. One of his caution flags revolves around the effects of a pending market redistribution.
The findings shared at the conference show that the market challenges facing the print industry have not treated everyone equally. Everyone will agree that no single recession (or pandemic) is the same as another one. History also shows that those businesses that are best prepared often use these events as a lever to expand their market presence. Why and how is that?
The research reports provided to the industry list many things that the leaders do during unsettling times to keep their businesses above the fray. I encourage you to reach out to your own trusted source of information to get the key things that businesses need to thrive in these markets. In this post, I’ll highlight the three areas that I see leaders do in these unpredictable times.
“When a defining moment comes along you define the moment or the moment defines you.” —Roy McAvoy, Tin Cup
Be intentional about your decisions
This does not mean being reckless, or over-aggressive, it simply means being clear-eyed about your decisions and effectively communicating the plan to all those on your team. Whether your goal is to batten down the hatches and ride this out, or use this time to rejuvenate portions of the value stream that you deliver to your clients, do it on purpose.
Be open to a new workforce model
This could include a remote workforce, a restructuring of your sales and client facing teams, or doubling down on automation. Some look at the changes to the labor market as a threat, while others see it as an opportunity—you get to choose. Working out the pros and cons with your senior team can help determine the best outcome for your business.
Don’t assume client loyalty
What got you here, may not get you there. The pandemic restructured the landscape of buyers and sellers throughout the industry. How people work, what is important to them today that might not have been important two years ago, and finally, who we work with. One driver of the tightening labor market is the attrition level of workers. These are folks who were near, or close enough to retirement age that they just said the heck with it. How many of your buyers or sales reps left the workforce in this manner recently? What were you doing pre-pandemic that you believe is still effective to maintain client loyalty, and what did you learn during the pandemic that has been equally effective in helping you grow and nurture your client base? Put them into play!
Maybe you don’t run the risk of any client abandonment. Or maybe you do. It’s hard to fix what you might not fully understand. What do your client surveys look like, and what, if any, are the changes to your net promoter score? What are you learning in your quarterly business reviews that you can apply to either win a new piece of business, or to use in increasing the loyalty factor with your current customers?
Being a student of the industry gives you a leg up during these challenging times. You’re able to see for yourself what the leaders have done, and what everyone else said was too hard to do. The results tend to speak for themselves. I still believe this is one of the greatest times to be in this industry. It’s not, however, for the faint of heart. What are you doing to prepare your business to leverage the changes in the marketplace? If you have ideas that you’d like to talk about, please let me know, or add them to the comments below. Good luck.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at [email protected].