At the end of the day, you can do nothing if you don’t have enough profit to open the doors tomorrow.
This simple but important fact is what drives virtually everything you do in business, and so it should. Even the charitable causes you are involved in cannot be divorced from the fact that you need to have a profit to participate in them. No profit, no extra dollars to toss around.
And perhaps more critically, a business owner with a profit challenge is required to spend more time in the business, leaving him under great time pressures, which also affects the extracurricular activities not only of that individual, but of the others in the business.
Over the past couple of years, we have seen a significant ramping-up of the time challenges on business owners, managers, and their staff, just to keep the wheels of the business turning.
It has, it could be said, not been a fun time for many in the business. One of the qualities of a tough business environment is not just the teeth-clenching, cost-cutting, sleepless nights that go with it. It is the shrinking time frame of decisions. They go from planning for a decades-away retirement, to questioning what the numbers are today, and then deciding what to do tomorrow, all on this basis. (And by tomorrow I don’t mean the metaphorical one; I mean the one called Wednesday that comes after Tuesday.)
You’ve probably noticed this myopic view among your customers; your suppliers have certainly noticed it in yourself and your colleagues in the distribution chain.
The selling-down of inventories to extreme-lean levels is a direct consequence of that extreme short-term view.
Now, however, it seems that there are some cracks appearing in the clouds, and businesses are starting to see the fruits of their extended labours begin to pay off.
That’s great, but when you start to revisit the bottom line on your business, and see your customers doing the same, it is important that you relearn how to extend your gaze beyond today’s numbers and the month-end, and start planning for the months and years ahead.
For owners and managers looking to be owners, this may mean revisiting a succession plan. For customer relations, it means dusting off the training playbook and ensuring that you and your customers are prepared for the vehicles coming down the road.
For many more of you, it is time to remind yourselves what the real value is that you bring to your customers: service. That means training. That means ideas. That means helping customers wherever you can. It means giving back to the communities in which you do business.
Service is so much more than parts, but it’s those too. I urge you to rededicate yourselves to the worthy cause: your future.
Every business knows that’s what it’s all really about, but only those who act on it are destined to survive and prosper.