SPRING 2021 EDITION

NEVER LET A CRISIS GO TO WASTE

Spring is the season when our thoughts turn toward renewal — this year, in particular. After many months of limitations and uncertainty, let’s focus on the way forward.

Steve Ruane recently reminded me of the saying, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” In both business and our personal lives, a crisis is one of the things we’d most like to avoid. If you’ve found the formula for doing so, message me immediately! Short of that revelation, let’s look at a few approaches that allow us to gain insight and not “waste” the learning opportunities from a painful and disruptive time.

Effectively Communicate

During times of crisis, communication becomes both more difficult and more important. At Edges Electrical Group, our leadership team met on a weekly (or often daily) basis to ensure consistency with our messages to the customers, employees and our suppliers. We were far from perfect early in our efforts, but they did ultimately result in an agility and responsiveness that surpassed what we had achieved in the past. Looking back, when our direction was clear as a company, we began to see sales growth and take market share. Clear communication of well-thought-out principles create a sense of security and peace of mind for both employees and customers, resulting in a more productive and profitable end result for everyone.

Control Expenses

One of the few bright sides of the crisis of the last year was the effect of lowered expenses on the bottom line. When I talk to a cross-section of other industry leaders, most if not all report an improvement in this regard. As a result of the pandemic, expenses of travel, meals and entertainment all came to a screeching halt. I am a big believer in allocating resources toward the development of and reward for customer loyalty, but in taking a forced step back and really looking at the numbers, I think we can improve the qualification process. Rather than just assume goodwill equals improved profitability, we are identifying better ways to predict and track ROI. Ultimately our goal is to partner with businesses that understand the value of service and long-term relationship development, not just the shiny objects.

Reevaluate Workforce Configuration

What does your office space look like today versus 2019? We have experienced an earth-shaking change to the way business is conducted worldwide. Long- held traditions of office-based work have given way to remote work situations. What had been a gradual shift in that direction was dramatically sped up. It gives us all an opportunity to reevaluate how to configure our workforce. There are potentially large savings if we can transition to a smaller building footprint. And in areas of the country where employee commute times can exceed two hours per day, we can generate huge savings in efficiency and fatigue.

  • Which jobs are more suited to remote work?
  • Is there potential for more productivity from employees who have a flexible work schedule?
  • Do our review processes accurately evaluate the amount of work (not only the time spent) in the office?
  • Can we create a strong company culture and sense of teamwork within a more diverse work situation?
  • Might a hybrid model be the best option, combining flexibility and community?
  • Do employees need a different skillset to be successful working from home? How can we help them develop one?
  • Are we being consistent with our message to the employees?

At our company, we’re sorting through a multitude of considerations. This is a work in progress as restrictions lessen, but we’re asking ourselves the following questions:

These are interesting considerations and I’m eager to see how each of you address the challenges. As we look ahead to the next three quarters of 2021 and beyond, what other items will you possibly change within your companies? Indicators tell us that the pace of business in Q3 and Q4 will most likely pick up. Are we prepared?

As a California native, I have watched over the decades as Mother Nature has dealt catastrophic blows to some of the most beautiful areas in our state. Earthquakes have toppled San Francisco, drought routinely threatens thousands of acres of the most fertile valleys on earth and the wildfires of late have destroyed both homes and old-growth redwood groves. It can seem overwhelming in the short term. But recently as I drove through an area blackened by fire months ago, I was heartened to see beautiful rolling hills of green pasture dappled with a riot of wildflowers. It reminded me that San Francisco has been rebuilt and stands stronger and more resilient than before. California agriculture is still feeding the world, becoming more efficient and water-wise in the process. Renewal and growth fueled by hardship and adversity—a good image to keep in our sights as we proceed!

IMARK Group is a great tool for all of us. Use our resources and collective wisdom as we all prepare for new and different challenges. Get with your leadership and take a proactive approach moving forward! We’ve got this!

Bob PowersIMARK Chairman of the Board