In just six short months, I’ll be a grandpa. While this is certainly exciting, there’s this nagging fear of the unknown. Sure, having three children of my own prepared me in some ways for this new role. But the world has changed since I was a new father, and the responsibilities of being a grandparent are also different in this new age.
It’s not unlike your situation today if you’re operating a precast concrete plant. While you know how to run a functional and prosperous business, the world in which you operate that business has changed. We’re entering uncharted territory, and there’s a lot of uncertainty ahead. What frustrates most precasters is a fear of the unknown that is paralyzing the business community – especially small business. Whether it’s taxes, health care costs, new OSHA initiatives, EPA regulations or immigration issues, the nagging fear of uncertainty is keeping the economy tied in knots.
In this difficult market, innovation and adaptation are at a premium. These two characteristics are imperative when it comes to operating a business in less-than-optimal times. No longer is it feasible to sit back and wait for business to roll in. Good customer service is OK in good times, but great customer service can separate your company from the competition in tough times.
Can you make the right decisions, even if they’re hard decisions? Are you willing to think outside of the box and not go about business as usual? If I had to offer just three pieces of advice it would be:
1) Don’t forget about your current customers while you’re wooing potential customers. Now is not the time to cut back in your efforts to attract new business, but you have to make sure you’re providing world-class service to the customers you already have.
2) You may not be able to give raises and bonuses, but it is critical to keep your employee morale high. Find ways to show employees they’re valued and keep them informed so they understand the pressures of the marketplace. Your employees are the key to your business and your number one asset.
3) Lastly, continue to look for every opportunity to expand and improve. Search out unmet demands in your market. Focus on quality and efficiency at every step of production and in every business process.
One advantage I will have as a grandparent is the ability to hand my grandchild back to my daughter and son-in-law when I’m ready for some peace and quiet. We don’t have the same luxury with this economy. Like it or not, times have changed and we have to accept this new economic landscape and face it head on.
Our forefathers faced great adversity and came out stronger and I’m confident our country and the precast industry will do the same. From the Civil War to the Great Depression and through World War II, we have endured amazing challenges and have emerged stronger and smarter every time. Come to think of it, the old adage of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” isn’t so far off after all.
President, National Precast Concrete Association