Are You Ready for the Rebound?
Don’t look now but good times are on the way! They may not show up next month or the month after but make no mistake, all the signs are pointing to a rebound coming to a market near you in the not too distant future!
U.S. employers added a seasonally adjusted 916,000 jobs in March, the best gain since August, and the overall unemployment rate currently stands at its lowest point since the onset of the pandemic.
“There’s a seismic shift going on in the U.S. economy,” economist Beth Ann Bovino recently told the Wall Street Journal. The confluence of additional federal stimulus, growing consumer confidence and the feeling that the pandemic is close to abating is propelling economic growth and hiring, she said.
All that’s good news. No, that’s great news!
But only if you’re ready to take advantage of the increased demand for office furniture and related services the recovery is going to generate. And that will depend to a great extent on what you do right now.
There is always the option, of course, to stay with what has long been the industry’s traditional response to recovery after recession: hire back the people you let go when the market turned down or replace them with new hires.
If nothing else, that will keep you in your comfort zone, since it’s probably what you did each time business recovered after previous recessions.
The downside of that approach, however, that it basically does little more than restore your business to a status quo that clearly wasn’t strong enough to withstand a downturn to begin with.
In addition, when you bring back former employees you also get to re-acquaint yourself with the reasons why you let them go in the first place. And any new hires, particularly those with no previous industry experience, will require a lengthy learning curve before they can begin to start making any significant contribution.
Instead of that route—essentially doing what you’ve always done and hoping somehow for different results—there’s a better way, one that will lead to a lean, technology-leveraging organization that’s scaled so that you can use the same number of people whether you’re running a $10 million business or a $30 million business.
How do you get there?
As with most things in life, it begins with the basics. For office furniture dealers that means a comprehensive review of all the repetitive, labor-intensive tasks your people are currently performing that can be either eliminated, automated or outsourced to a third-party service.
That review should also take in all the internal processes involved in your dealership to manage your furniture orders.
For very obvious reasons, most dealers tend to focus most of their care and attention on selling office furniture. But what happens to the profits all those sales generate in the course of processing all those orders?
There are two unavoidable facts of life about running just about any business today: human intervention costs money and human error costs more!
Think about all the information that flows back and forth between the dealer, the manufacturer and the customer in the course of generating a furniture order, fulfilling that order and getting paid for it.
How well that information flows—how timely it is, how accurate it is and most importantly, how much human intervention it requires—has a dollar value, either positively or negatively. If it’s done properly, it will help preserve those hard-earned profits from your equally hard-earned sales. If not, it will take those profits and relentlessly drain them away.
That’s why, if you’re serious about preparing your dealership for the coming rebound, it’s so important to take in the big picture and look at all the activity that’s required to manage the information flow involved in processing furniture orders.
If all you’re doing from a process improvement perspective is focusing on little more than how a workstation gets installed, you’re seeing less than half of the full picture. Far less.
You also have to look at how that workstation got purchased, how all the order entry and order processing steps were handled and how the information that was collected in that activity was delivered to the people who needed it.
That analysis—and only that analysis—will give you the insight and information you need to implement genuine process improvement. The result: An action plan that combines task elimination, automation and outsourcing to deliver a robust, scalable organization with the ability to make the most of the new growth opportunities that will soon be coming your way.
If you’ve had enough of the old boom-bust, hire-fire treadmill that has characterized life at far too many dealerships for far too long, now’s the time to do something about it. Want to find out more?
We work with many different industries, helping them navigate the digital transformation process. Reach out to us and see how Avanto can save your company time and money.
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