Are You Proactive or Reactive in Tough Times?

I know that most of you have heard the terms mentioned in this title, and I think  it’s time to be focused on being proactive in every phase of business during these tough economic times.

 As I travel on a daily schedule, I meet and chat with many different HVAC contractors, who make no bones in telling me that their business is way off their financial mark.  Some have said that they have tried to convince their product suppliers to lower their cost in order to stay in business. Personally, I think this is the wrong approach because there is more wrong than just the price of a product.

I think that one must first look under a microscope at how the business is operating during these economic stressful times. I’m sure that many will recognize that several companies, both large and small, are making the daily headlines regarding financial stress of some type. General Motors for one has seen their stock value drop to under $4.00 a share for the lowest in their history. Best Buy, Macy’s and Circuit City are trying to reorganize to stay afloat, and there are employee layoffs occurring at an almost epidemic state.

So what can be done that is proactive in our own business in order to survive in these difficult times? Some are quite simple and not painful. Look at every phase of your company and see if you can make changes, such as do you need as many employees’ maybe somebody is retiring and does he or she need replacing with the slow down in business? When sending mailings to your customers, do you get your 42 cents worth, or could you possibly have a customer e-mail list? I would suggest that many of your customers who have e-mail addresses would not mind reading about your promotions online.

Have you taken a close look at your part inventory lately? I recently spent some time talking to a plumbing contractor who said he was shocked to find out how much money was tied up in over-inventory. With all the supply house inventory control programs available and the close proximity of the suppliers, it is beyond me why any proactive business person would want to get bogged down in an over-inventory situation. I also recently saw a service truck with 25 each of ½” & ¾”copper 90’s. How many can one use in one day? This represents more dollars. There were several aquastat controls on trucks worth several hundred dollars that could be replaced by one single control’result dollars saved, lighter loads and less inventory to track.

There are other new business ideas that could very well offset some of that lost business that companies have offered on a regular basis. Look at the amount of bottle water that passes out the door of retail locations and the prices being paid. So how about water filtration system addition since clean water is a major concern of your customers?

Gasoline expenses have certainly reached the highest it has ever been’at least during my lifetime’start reducing these costs by simply adding a VTS (vehicle tracking system) to your fleet. Believe me, the VTS means money in the bank. How about the lighting in your buildings? Think about installing light timing sensors and new energy saving florescent bulbs. Check the local newspapers for bid work that may just fit your company.

I must also mention if you don’t get involved with solar, you will look back someday and ask yourself why. I know there are a lot of other proactive ideas, but I hope those who are reactive thinkers become proactive active planners. I would also suggest that you read Tom Peter’s book In Search of Excellence.

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