The lessons of the recession (Page 1)
One of the worst things that could happen is that we’d let a perfectly good recession go to waste and wouldn’t learn anything that we could apply in future years. Here, executives of businesses and other organizations, both large and small, share their thoughts about what they learned from the worst economic downturn in decades.
Steve Conine, President, Accustaff/TalentFramework
The most important recession lesson I learned is that it is imperative to have a war chest. I’ve made my rule of thumb to have six months of operating expenses saved and liquid so that in the times of desperation, reserves are there to ensure that there is some time to strategize and recover or retreat until things improve. Without that cushion of cash, desperate measures might have to be taken in the short term that ultimately cost you much, much more in the long term.
Darren McBride, Chief executive officer, Sierra Computer Group
There is a business axiom that what isn’t growing is probably dying. So winning new clients is an ongoing priority for us. When we had to scale back for the recession, I was worried that cuts would lead to decline in revenues. Fortunately, we had lots of local history and great customer relationships. It is inevitable that some clients are lost due to the economic decline and business failure, but others are added through referrals. It reinforced the lesson that happy customers who appreciate great work at a fair price is the best form of marketing.
Catherine Greene, Owner, Alie’s Flowers & Gifts
Letting your customers know what they are going to get for their hard-earned dollar and then delivering that and then some is imperative to weathering a recession. Outstanding customer service and listening to what your customers want will set you apart from your competition. We expanded during the recession because of this philosophy.
Karen Barsell, Chief executive officer and president, United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra
As head of a nonprofit, while we’re all experiencing the worst recession in 70 years, I asked, “Where can I get advice when so few have experienced anything like this?” What I learned is to trust the collective instincts of our board of directors. Although each was struggling themselves, when it came time to rally and focus, they could always be counted on to assist United Way. The board talked more openly about problems and creatively found solutions. They’ve eliminated parts of our business model that were no longer viable and created strategies that will outlive the recession.
Alexis Roman Hill, Executive Director, Kids & Horses
I graduated from college in 2005 and was a city planner during the boom period. I saw unsustainably at every turn. Now that I’m running a nonprofit six years later in this recession, I find that I am acutely budget minded and always seeking new ways of doing things. I’ve learned the importance of creating new ways to expand our reach, develop closer, deeper relationships with our donors and volunteers and innovate approaches to fundraising and programming. Keeping relevant to the community’s needs and to our industry is essential, because money simply isn’t available to sustain the unnecessary.
Season Lopiccolo, Chief operating officer, founding partner, Noble Studios
I have to admit. We chose not to actively participate in the recession. We made the decision to maintain our routine and stay focused. Regardless of volume, our staff arrived in the morning and worked until the evening. We continued to build relationships, bring in business from outside the state and raised the bar even when we were shy of meeting our financial goals. These decisions proved to be effective as we were able to grow our staff and revenue by nearly 50 percent annually despite the economic times.
With the food industry suffering from decreased supply and increased demand due to COVID-19, UNR and Wolf Pack Meats have increased production to help local producers and ranchers stay in business.