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Rebalance business operations: how to be successful amidst the corona crisis

11 May 2020
The current corona crisis won't go away overnight, so it's time to face the temporary new normal. Now that companies have taken initial (emergency) measures – or, in some cases, closed their doors for the time being – they need to focus on the long-term perspective and unearth their opportunities. They're definitely there, but it's paramount that you spot and seize them. What measures can you take to be successful in the coming years?

The current corona crisis won't go away overnight, so it's time to face the temporary new normal. Now that companies have taken initial (emergency) measures – or, in some cases, closed their doors for the time being – they need to focus on the long-term perspective and unearth their opportunities. They're definitely there, but it's paramount that you spot and seize them. What measures can you take to be successful in the coming years?


1. Determine the right products and distribution channels

Take a moment to determine the role of your products in the world we currently live in, taking the upcoming recession into account. There will be a decline in demand for some products, but at the same time, new opportunities might open up. What's important is that you figure out how to book success in the new 1.5-meter society.


Now that social distancing will be the norm for the next 1-3 years, you need to reorganize your company and distribution channels. Even companies in the food industry, which is rather recession-proof at an overarching level, will most likely see a shift in channels – for example, if people earn less money, they will head to the grocery store instead of a specialist shop. And they will meet for dinner at home rather than at a restaurant.


When identifying the right distribution channels for the coming years, empathize with the end user (often the consumer): what's their current situation and how does it affect your products? Suppose you're selling washbasins, faucets, and shower cabinets. With a recession knocking on society's door, a group of people will likely postpone renovating their homes. On the other hand, the number of DIY enthusiasts might increase. These are the types of developments you need to consider.


Besides tracking down new opportunities on the consumer side, don't forget to pay attention to the changing competitive landscape. Take face masks, for example. Traditionally, we counted on China to deliver these, but the Netherlands has now started to manufacture them within its own borders.


2. Adapt your internal organization to the new normal

In addition to adapting your internal processes to the above-discussed shift, you will need to adjust to corona measures, which tend to change on a weekly basis. One thing is pretty certain: we will need to practice social distancing for quite a while. You need to take measures so as to ensure your employees can continue to work at a safe distance from each other while maintaining productivity. It might require an investment in a structural solution, but it will be worth the trouble. After all, you can't afford a low performance over a prolonged period of time.


What does this look like in practice? Well, if you expect peaks (which can be unpredictable in times of crisis), provide sufficient capacity. This is especially important in a 1.5-meter society, as the enforced social distancing will inevitably reduce your capacity. You might have to work in shifts – and perhaps on Saturdays. If you do the latter, consider how it will affect your collaborations with suppliers. To make it work, do they need to work on Saturdays, too?


As for the work floor, make sure the layout allows for social distancing, take hygiene precautions, and have people work from home (either full time or part time) as much as possible.


3. Make your supply chains more robust

Since nobody can predict what the coming quarters or years will look like, it's paramount that you make supply chains more robust.


First, make sure you purchase from multiple suppliers or stock up. Don't depend on a single country, because if it goes into lockdown, you'll no longer be able to manufacture your product. It might even be a good idea to produce (part of) your product in-house. And keep in mind an inventory is only useful for product lines with a rather stable demand.


Second, have a close look at your own production sites. If production takes place in several European countries, you have a strategic advantage: should restrictive measures be taken in one location, you can continue production in another. This will turn you into a reliable supplier.


You should also try to have access to several sales channels. Now that lots of stores have closed their doors, for example, online retail is booming like never before. If you're able to respond to such developments, you'll strengthen your position, and your business will be much more crisis proof!

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