Growing up in Indianapolis, home of the Indy 500, I am a huge racing fan. It’s an exciting sport full of big wins and clever strategies. Picture this: your favorite driver is a full lap ahead of the rest of the field. He (or she) is approaching the 4th turn of the final lap. Are they in a position where they have the advantage? Absolutely! They’re in the lead, while the other drivers are forced to simply play catch up.
In today’s world, business is a lot like a race – having a good offensive strategy is critical, especially with the current economy. There is much debate right now about whether or not we’re headed into a recession. Some say yes, some say no, others aren’t sure. but if we are, wouldn’t it make sense for your team to have a strategy to keep you in the lead position out there in the race for more business?
So if the goal is to have the checkered flag when the tough economic times are over, what is the best proactive strategy to achieve that? In other words, how do you ensure that your business not only SURVIVES, but THRIVES? The answers may very well surprise you.
The biggest mistake most companies make is to immediately tighten the purse strings and slash budgets. And often the two areas that are hit first are advertising and training. The irony is that these are the most important areas of business during a down economy. Advertising is needed to let people know that you are still out there even though others may not be. And training is necessary to retain your staff and continue to refine their customer service or sales skills so that you can keep your current customers happy and also garner some new ones.
After 9/11, the airlines hit a really tough time. When all was said and done, Southwest Airlines not only landed on its feet while other airlines were filing bankruptcy, but they landed on top! What was their winning strategy? A great offense! Southwest Airlines actually increased their training budget. Yes, I said INCREASED their training budget. Ed Stewart, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines stated “Any (airline) can fly 737′s to different cities. Our secret weapon is people, so we still had to invest in them.”
He’s right! People make the difference – especially in the bad times! There is so much value in engaging your employees and enhancing their skills through effective training. Southwest Airlines avoided the most common recession mistakes and took a proactive stance, invested in their team and came out on top.
Customers today have many choices. So if your company has competition (and who doesn’t?), what can make you stand out above the rest? Your people! Giving your team the skills to provide exceptional service is a great way to stay ahead in the race. And when that checkered flag waves, your company will be the one to bring it home, while others might be struggling to make it across the finish line at all.
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