How do you prepare for what’s next when everything that’s happened over the past two years has been so unpredictable? Prices are rising, supply chains are shutting down and there are whispers of major food shortages just around the corner. Car manufacturers have stopped taking orders while their recent customers pend on a year-long waiting list. Other electronic devices may cease production due to dependence on Chinese microchip production.
You can’t always predict, but you can better prepare. Software like SOS Inventory gives business owners better control over backend operations, extensive reporting, transparency, and savings. In hindsight, no one could have foreseen the extent of adversity thrown at every type of business. What we can do, moving forward, is arm ourselves for the worst of extremes by taking steps to mitigate many different scenarios.
If any good came from this dreadful experience, it was a lesson about where our weaknesses lied so we could fortify them in the event of future disruptions.
Before the pandemic, more business owners than not preferred their employees work in person than remotely. Historically, the thought process was that workers in the office could be supervised and people working from home could not be, therefore they were less productive. Every business owner was forced to overcome that line of thinking and accept remote working as the norm. Beyond that, to facilitate good communication between team members, they had to ensure remote access to business files and work with online conferencing tools.
Both employers and employees benefit from this scenario. The employee can work comfortably from home, forgoing costs associated with commuting and dressing for the office environment. The employer can cut down on overhead costs and appeal to new applicants by offering flexible work hours and partial remote work.
Schedule flexibility has also been essential to accommodate local requirements for social distancing. Initially, this caveat slowed production and created problems delivering product on-time to customers. We’ve all had time to learn from these difficulties and plan around them to meet consumer demand. To make labor shortage matters worse, the government paid more money to the unemployed than they were earning at work. This problem drove up labor costs by forcing companies to offer higher salaries to entice new applicants.
Streamlining Work Processes
Inflation, tariffs, labor shortages and gas hikes all raised the cost of doing business. To survive, you had to get by on lower margins or find ways to tighten up your ship. Here is where software comes into play by automating processes normally done manually to save time and labor costs.
Did your suppliers let you know when they were short works or when they were facing shipping delays? If you’re working with businesses that don’t speak your native language fluently or their culture differences impede honest communication, you need to find a way to bridge the gap by discussing how to improve communication (software can help here, too) or by finding an alternative supplier. If you can’t deliver to customers because your business relies heavily on a supplier that can’t deliver on time, you’ll lose customers at a time when it’s getting more difficult to find them.
Facilitating communication between employees working remotely was also key to maintaining productivity. Ensuring everyone has internet access and access to company files can be achieved with cloud services, VPN access, and conferencing software like Zoom.
Sometimes the only way to survive is by doing something completely out of the box. The businesses that sought out new marketing channels, adapted their products according to what was available or in demand, and broke into new verticals are the ones that now have additional revenue streams now that things are largely back to normal. Only through trial and error can you discover a way to overcome a feat no one has ever faced.
Now that we face growing supply shortages, we will be continually challenged to adapt to trying circumstances. We can’t give in and allow the likes of Amazon and other big tech companies to swallow up business, take away jobs, and lower profits for small to medium size companies across the nation. Amazon has every angle covered from offering the lowest price to owning their own shipping company.
While it’s difficult to predict future demand in unusual circumstances, some companies flourished by adapting their production to create supplies need for healthcare workers and sanitary practices, i.e., PPC equipment, hand sanitizers, ventilators, etc.
Although we don’t know what funds will be available for future health crises, the PPP loans made available through most banks offered much needed relief, often without the need for repayment. Don’t hesitate to check with your accountant to find out what types of loans you can qualify to receive. If they are allocated towards overhead and employees, they are forgiven. When it comes to the government, there’s little help for smaller companies so be sure to take advantage of an opportunity when it arises.
If nothing else, you can say you won’t be caught off guard if we suddenly need to adapt to more regulations, business closures or supply shortages. Now is the time to produce a good plan to account for every scenario, no matter how far fetched it may seem. You are better off over-prepared and never have to put your emergency plan into effect. Thriving in the days to come will depend on your ability to adapt to the unexpected.
Businesses can save up to 30% off their shipping costs by negotiating more favorable terms with their common carriers. Even if your contract isn’t expiring, you can renegotiate at any time. You can find a shipping consultant to help you negotiate with FedEx, DHL, or UPS to reduce accessorial fees and shipping rates according to the volume your company ships. A shipping consultant can also help you identify areas of waste in shipping process to identify theft, waste, or human error, allowing you to address these areas of opportunity for future shipping cost savings.