Sunday, August 02, 2009

The end is nigh... so what s next?

So, economists seem to believe the worst of the recession is now oer in the US and that we may even see some economic growth in Q4. As we pull out of this I started to wonder what scars this recession would leave and whether it has really changed the way we do business. My observations:

1. Businesses have all learned how to cut costs. Some of have done so intelligently, others... not so much. I believe there will be a generation of businesses, post recession that struggle because they made the wrong cuts. There will be others that now realize they were wasting a fortune before the recession and will forever be leaner businesses.

2. Businesses have learned new ways of generating income. While my study is hardly scientific I believe hotels, like airlines, have started charging for more and more things AND they have raised the prices on things that were already extras. I just stayed at a hotel that wanted to charge $5 for the Snickers bar in the minibar. I suspect that price will remain long after the recession has ended.

3. Businesses have learned about the power of customer service. Actually I should say SOME businesses have leaned about the power of customer service. The ones that have will at worst survive this recession and the ones that haven't are dying right now. Customer service is better than any new product or service. It is loyalty, feedback and free marketing. Why some businesses fear it is a mystery to me.

4. Businesses have learned who their best people are. Hiring people is relatively easy compared to letting people go. Letting good people go is especially hard. Strangely though, I've heard so many business leaders talk about how their business is better now that they are smaller. Hopefully, what we all learn from this is that at the heart of our businesses are some great people whose views, opinions and ambitions we need to listen to. But we mustn't stop doing that when the recession ends.

These four lessons are the ones I've taken away from this recession. I'm sure other businesses will learn different ones. I'm also sure there were several lessons I missed. If you think I did miss one, please let me know. Right now is the best time to learn!

50 comments:

josephk said...

All great lessons to learn, especially the ones about customer service and finding the best personnel.

A few others that come to mind:

- no such thing as a free lunch in the form of 'easy money' (policy)
- being levered 30 times, or whatever the equivalent for a given industry not called banking, isn't a good way to drive business
- innovation can sometimes be a bad thing if it clouds our understanding of intrinsic value (or whether any exists)

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