1. To the leaders: Now is when the leaders need to lead. It is not the time to hide under your desk as the President/CEO. Your employees are looking for leadership and guidance during these tumultuous times. How you act and what you say matters! Be consistently even keeled, listen as people are in pain emotionally, give encouragement, be hopeful, be positive, be thankful and be insightful.
2. Over-communicate: Your employees are nervous; nervous for their job, nervous for their health, and nervous wondering if their company will make it through this event. All your decisions are very fluid, and you need to pivot quickly as you gain more information. Over-communicate the changes and why you made them. This will help employees understand and trust in you. You might have to do this every couple of days. That is OK. You need to take time out to pivot and communicate. At the beginning of the pandemic in the US, most Governors’ Executive Orders were more and more restrictive each day. The opposite will happen when we come out of it, loosening restrictions more and more. There is light at the end of the tunnel now.
3. Dealing with your bank: The most important educational class I ever took was 35 years ago was given by my friend’s husband. The presentation was titled “Never Surprise Your Banker.” Even the younger people in our industry have now been through two unprecedented events during their career, 2008 and 2020. In both events, banks have been very instrumental. Negatively and positively! Your banking relationship is paramount to your success and it always will be. When things are going well, tell them. When things are going poorly or a special event happens, tell them. The more you tell them, the more they will trust you. As you build their confidence that you are running a fully transparent company, they will feel more comfortable lending you money.
4. Cash. These market corrections demand that you have cash in your business. You are going to burn some cash during these tough times. Forget the bank for a minute. When you have those great years, put the money back in the business. Do not buy that new car, RV, boat, plane or house. Put the money in the business and keep it for a rainy day. Believe me, I have been through 4 rainy days and each time I go through one, I am thankful that for 4 generations each President of our company has believed in saving cash and reinvesting in the business. This is seen as unusual in our industry. There is a saying that goes, “most family business will tell you that the 1st generation makes the money, the 2nd one spends it, and there is nothing left for the 3rd.” These days too many companies are over leveraged. In times like these, being over leveraged and lacking cash will make it very difficult to survive. And even if they do survive, when the business does turn for the better, they will be too restricted to flourish.