Volume 2, Number 5 - May 4, 2004

During the recent economic downturn, you may have seen some customers reduce their business with you and others leave entirely. Now that the economy seems to be turning around, are you ready to make your second first impression? Have you reduced lead times and costs while improving quality and responsiveness? Do you know which customers you want to recapture and which should not be part of your future? Are your suppliers and operations poised for growth? Do your customers know about your improved capabilities?

During a downturn it is common, and often unwise, to cut investments that can fuel growth. Sales and marketing often take budget cuts. Investment in workforce training is also a frequent victim of cost cutting. “We’ve cut to the bone and can’t really work on making improvements now” is a phrase heard all too much. If you can’t make improvements when your business is slow, and you’re too busy to make them when your business is doing well, when will you ever make them? Your competition, whether in China, Mexico, or Northeast Ohio, is getting better. Every day.

You may get this second chance to make a first impression, but it is unlikely you will get a third. Be prepared to make the most of your second chance. Understand your market, define an operations strategy to serve it profitably, and find a way to implement that strategy, regardless of the economy.

It is not easy to track news about your competitors, your own company, your customers, your suppliers, your industry, the economy, and the hundreds of
other things you need to know. But an email delivered by google.com directly to your inbox either daily or as news happens can be a real time saver.

Sometime back in the 1970’s, our federal leaders converted the term czar from one describing horrific Soviet despots to one describing an executive special assignment. We’ve had czar’s galore, including an energy czar, a drug czar, a Y2K czar, a cyberterrorism czar, and now a manufacturing czar. Albert Frink, Don Wainwright, and Karen Wright all have been nominated to hold new posts related to saving manufacturing in the United States. Mr. Frink is the official czar, if that matters. Elimination of government policies that create major obstacles to success in American manufacturing would be a step in the right direction, but real success depends on us – the owners, management, workers, and advisors in manufacturing. I wish Frink, Wainwright, and Wright success, but more importantly I encourage each of us to think and act creatively, strategically, and practically to control our own futures.

Fulcrum ConsultingWorks, Inc. All rights reserved.
For reprint permission, just give Rebecca a call
or e-mail her at [email protected]