Weathering the storm

Here are five top tips from Anthony Karibian, CEO of XLN Telecom, to help steer your business clear of disaster.

Here are five top tips from Anthony Karibian, CEO of XLN Telecom, to help steer your business clear of disaster.

Here are five top tips from Anthony Karibian, CEO of XLN Telecom, to help steer your business clear of disaster

Recognise your strengths

Knowing which areas are driving costs will help you to pinpoint where your business’s weaknesses are so that you can single out specific areas and focus your efforts on improving them.  

For example, if your customer base has increased by ten per cent but your customer service headcount is up by 40 per cent, target the low performing service team rather than cutting sales staff. Take the necessary steps to reduce the number of customer queries and calls while also improving emloyee performormance. Then make prudent cutbacks if required.  

Know your audience

Use this time to maintain good contact with your current customer base. Build and cement relationships and find out what matters most to them.

Cut back on those areas that least impact customers’ experience or which have little perceived value in their eyes – but which could be costing you a small fortune.

If you don’t need a store presence, for example, relocate to a lower rent area. Or switch to lower cost utility providers – as long as service quality isn’t compromised.    

Improve payment methods

By selectively raising prices, you can adjust customer behaviour to reduce your business costs.

Processing credit card and cheque payments, for example, can be very expensive for small businesses. By introducing a fee for these transactions you can encourage your customers to pay by cash or direct debit – saving your business additional processing fees.  

Alternatively, you can offer incentives to customers who opt for e-billing and email communication that save your printing costs and postage.

Hit overheads

Go through each of your overheads and then explore ways to reduce those that don’t affect overall efficiency of the business and its ability to win sales.  

Consider second suppliers for all your sourcing requirements. This keeps your key primary suppliers honest and leads to price renegotiations that could mean significant savings.

And don’t forget about the secondary areas where cuts can be
 made. Target wastage in office supplies and invest in energy saving initiatives – from energy efficient light bulbs to making sure the insulation in your premises is up-to-date.

Guerrilla marketing

During the downturn, avoid excessive spending on branding and long-term marketing initiatives that are difficult to measure.  Instead, use the period to be creative: test low-cost promotions and trial new initiatives. Focusing your energies on inexpensive marketing tactics will also help you to stand out against your competitors.

If, for example, you find sales are being driven increasingly by word-of-mouth or SEO campaigns, understand how to best staff for these areas rather than relying on the more expensive traditional sales channels. And remember, in the current world order, retention and client management should take equal importance to generating “new leads”.

If you play it right, the downturn may in fact be your best opportunity to bring about significant changes to your business and, potentially, even gain market share.  

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