When you are feeling the effects of a tighter market, it’s easy to allow the financial and emotional weight to get the better of you; but remember that this is a cycle of the economy and it will change again.
It is important to acknowledge that business and personal behavior must change to allow you to meet the changing market conditions and survive, as previous strategies for a buoyant market won’t cut it. Recognise that change is upon us, and remember that nobody knows exactly what is going to happen or how long or how deep the impact of this market will last, so it is important not to panic. This is a cycle, during which keeping your business and personal behavior in good lean shape is critical. It requires you to keep your wits, maintain full alertness and sharp observation, which facilitates you becoming more resourceful, enterprising and innovative.
With this as a background theme, finding the smarts, opportunities and thriftiness to survive and thrive in this market will come a lot easier, and place you in the right moment at the right time with the right attitude to take advantage of new chances and opportunities.
When we discuss ‘change’, this actually means doing or making practical changes to what we expect or what we have been used to, or what we have become comfortable with. You won’t have changed with the market unless you have made conscious changes to your operations or mindset.
The following are areas where changed market conditions necessitate changes in your operations to ensure you survive and thrive.
1. Do What Works for you
Now is the time to review what actually works well for you and where your area of expertise is, whether it is an area, type of property, type of marketing or other business activity.
Identify those things that you excel at, and the activities that you are competitive and successful at; make these your core activity. Classify all other activity as secondary, bringing these back into your business activity and focus when you have the opportunity to do so.
Ask yourself what are the important and unique things about your business that you just can’t give up or lose to a competitor? For example, market share in a particular area. Focus on these. Go for and secure your share of your core activity.
2.Trim the Fat, not the Muscle
The most obvious activity is to cut back on expenses, but be careful not to restrict or cut activity that actually produces results.
Knowing your core business activity allows you to review exactly where and how you spend your money and time, and therefore cut or reduce what is not core activity. Be careful to assess what is ‘generating’ activity versus ‘supporting’ it.
Focus on what actually delivers results and what is actually needed to get the job done, not what you have become used to. For example, if your focus now is to obtain more property management listings, then work out how to do this.
Expenditure on excess corporate or personal image and business collateral can be reviewed.
3. Marketing is Muscle
You need to attract business now more than ever, but now it needs to be attracted more prudently. After reviewing your core activity, identify what type of marketing mediums you will use to target exactly the customer you need and one that that strengthens your core activity.
Spending less in marketing to a smaller more identified target can yield you strong results. Maintaining selected core activity also strengthens what your brand stands for to your key customer groups, and demonstrates to them that you are still active in the marketplace.
Review your marketing materials and message. The market has changed and so have the values, concerns and lifestyles of your buyers, sellers and landlords. Does your company reflect the message you want to give to your clients in this market?
Lower budgets entice the opportunity to go forth and leverage all the low or nil cost activities that you can do. Now is a good time to leverage all of your alliances, and network, network, network.
4. The synergy of the ‘sum of the parts’
Looking for a miracle cure to business issues right now is not the answer (is it ever?). If there is a miracle cure out there, everyone will be onto it, so the best way to gain a leapfrog improvement in the near future is to harness the positive synergy of implementing many small solutions.
In good markets, small problems and opportunities were pushed aside, but in this market they appear. By improving 10% in performance, saving 10% in costs, reducing 10% in time, these combine to provide good proactive business momentum, improved morale, and streamlining of functions. Big leaps forward can be experienced, greater than the sum of individual 10% improvements.
The old saying ‘don’t put all of your eggs in one basket’ is especially true right now. Relying on one key strategy may result in high hopes and poor results. By spreading your activity in a number of the core activity areas, you can gain positive results with much less risk. With more small problems and opportunities solved, the big ones can be better identified, tackled and resolved, and your conditions will improve.
“Ask yourself what are the important & unique things about your business that you just can’t give up or lose to a competitor.”
Everybody knows the market is tough, and you’re not the only one, so the best a team can do is get on with it together.
5. You can’t hide, give-up or go-it-alone
Everybody knows the market is tough, and you’re not the only one, so the best a team can do is get on with it together. Managers want more from their team and the team want direction and confidence from management – this is a perfect time to ‘lay the cards on the table’, to have an open review of all aspects of the operations of the business to find and reveal new and better ways to do things.
This shared approach to new market conditions, will unite and empower the business unit. Some of the areas to discuss and look for solutions are:
- Where are the roadblocks in the business? What are the things you are waiting for or need more of? Target these and use KPI’s to actually measure what works well.
- Who is actually doing what? What resources are underutilised? Can anything be outsourced?
- Who can be given more responsibility and wider scope of activity? Where can decisions be delegated for quicker and better results?
- Where can costs be saved? Ask the questions to identify what is unnecessary and what is core.
- How can we get more value add from existing clients andcontacts?
The involvement of all staff will give everyone an understanding of the core values of the business, empower ownership and responsibility for important tasks and outcomes, remove nerves and create more momentum.
Your co-workers, who also feel the pressures and doubts of the market, won’t mind doing it tough for a while if they believe in an outcome and direction. Getting your internal team confident and realistically positive is crucial to your business success.
Showing confidence to your clients when the market is tough is even more crucial. When times are tough, people want to see confidence in knowledge and skill, and prefer knowing what your area of expertise is. By focusing on your core activity, this can be imparted in a believable and positive manner, resulting in clients appointing you because you are able to deliver and fulfill their need with positive results.
- Be confident of your core qualities and expertise
- Be confident about the positives of dealing with you
- Be confident of your value proposition – don’t drop your price, you are now working harder. Charge for your services.
- Don’t be negative about the market, you won’t win deals for
- Keep a positive outlook and keep up appearances
Knowing that your competitors will be doing the same, it’s essential to be certain and confident about what you do to stand out.
7. Be Active
Leading by example will have a great impact on others’ motivation. Now is the time to get out from behind the desk and talk to people, meet new people, network, follow-up with people and review with people.
People, people, people…this is the new slogan for a tight market. The more people you can demonstrate your market knowledge, expertise and positive expectation of getting the best result, the more business you will attract.
When you have a success, promote it well. Make sure your core target market knows you are successful and getting results. Work with your local journalists who are hungry for good news stories.
The change is upon us, it is time to act, now. Make decisions and implement the actions now.
8. The Plan
By reviewing your business activity, a new shape and plan can be put together. It is critical for management to create confidence of direction and disciplined business activity, outlining clearly what changes are required for the business and team, why, and where you are heading. You need to get out of the office for a day to have the review workshop, to document the plan for the next six to twelve months.
Having your plan documented, explained and empowered to all of your team, will ensure that your core objectives are focused on and achieved. Review this regularly with your team and it will deliver steady results that will help you survive and thrive in any market.