Last week, Clear Seas Research, a company of BNP Media, which is Stone World‘s parent company, conducted a survey to see how manufacturers in the architectural, engineering and construction industries are handling/surviving the worldwide pandemic that has literally shut us down. Clear Seas Research cites that “the bringing together of industry professionals to share their experiences with the Coronavirus / COVID-19 as related to business activities, including planning, staffing, investing and marketing in an online survey, provides a collective industry perspective. This is a perspective that will continue to change over time; a perspective that can help inform the business decisions we make today, as well as our future plans. This is a perspective that can unite the industry and encourage collaboration; a perspective that will be monitored and reported as events continue to evolve.”
Among the points addressed in the survey is industry concern related to the pandemic and the impact on business and the economy. A total of 62% of respondents are concerned about achieving their business goals in the next three months. To make this a little more personal to the stone industry, Stone World reached out to our contributing columnist, and former fabricator himself, Eric Tryon, founder and former CEO of Premier Surfaces, to offer some advice.
“The priorities of a business have just changed overnight,” he said. “Executives should not feel guilty putting the current year’s business plan and goals on hold. Leadership teams should be applying their focus and energy on the here and now. It will not be easy; difficult decisions will have to be made. Executives who have the courage to embrace and act on this strategy will usually live to come out on the other side.”
Tryon recommends conserving cash immediately by reducing expenses; payroll being the biggest necessary reduction which is also the hardest because people and emotions are involved. “Most business owners make their biggest mistakes in this particular area,” he said. “They don't cut expenses fast enough or deep enough. They need to anticipate and make the hard decisions without allowing the emotion to get in the way.”
Additional suggestions include:
- Leverage lines of credit immediately
- Negotiate with suppliers and vendors
- Get creative and look to service customer channels that are still thriving
- Biggest recommendation - stand up, get out front and LEAD your teams. Create a regular communication forum and transparently share the plan with the entire team.
A larger group of respondents (54%) are worried about business stability over the next 12 months. To combat this, Tryon said, “Don't sit back and wait. Be proactive to take control of the future. I prefer to respond to an event and circumstances verses reacting. There is a big difference.
“The reality of the situation is what it is: How does a business owner make their company come out of the back end of this situation stronger and more efficient than its competitors?,” Tryon went on to say. “Yes, there will be short-term uncertainty, however, the markets will eventually stabilize and I believe will come back stronger than ever due to the thriving pre-COVID-19 economy which will gain a substantial boost from all the additional government stimulus resources introduced into the market. Relax, take some deep breathes. It's all about perspective, actions and leadership.”
Another point of concern with respondents (47%) is with supply chain interruption. “I don't anticipate this to be a big issue of scale long term,” said Tryon. “There may be some areas that are impacted, however, long-term supply chains should be able to recover.”