The leave vote has caused an “immediate and profound” economic shock in the UK. This has in turn had a devastating effect on a number of businesses in the last month.
David Cameron said “It Was A “Self-Destruct Option” for the Country, Whilst George Osborne Said It Will Tip the UK Into a Year-Long Recession, With up to 820,000 Jobs Lost Within Two Years.”
The Brexit job losses have already begun. A number of construction firms and management consultants throughout England have been forced to downscale and many feel as if they are desperately clinging on, waiting for things to get better. Tech companies are also putting projects on hold, which means a slowdown in hiring of software developers, IT architects and project managers, according to Robert Grimsey, director of Harvey Nash.
We want to look to the future and consider how management consultants in particular can continue to not just survive, but thrive in these difficult financial times.
1. Embrace the Change and Innovate
The secret to success in a recession is innovation. It’s time to improvise, adapt and overcome. In fact, in a study by Forrester, 70% of business executives said that in a recession, innovation is a top priority. However, to successfully innovate, companies have to be open to the idea of change – and that’s why the success stories of the recession are the innovators who are open to change.
This is the best time to take a risks, but how? If you find yourself desperately treading water in an attempt to keep staff occupied in the wake of stalled projects, don’t panic. You will have to make some changes, improvise, adapt and seek out the advantages to overcome. It really is a sink or swim mentality.
2. A Long Term View to Financial Game
Successful consultants look for ways to reduce costs creatively. Start by reviewing your financial model. Review existing contracts and seek to add value and expand. If your biding on a 3 year contract, do you really need to make a profit in year 1. Wouldn’t it not make sense to take a long term commercial view and instead seek to win a contract at cost in order to retain talent as recruiting new employees is so expensive. You can then concentrate your efforts on developing strong client relationships, building trust, performing well and adding value. Pay much more attention to critical components of your clients operations activities that may often appear to be mundane. This will invariability enable you to make further recommendations that are approved and generate profit in future years.
“In the Corporate World, There Is a Growing Recognition That Strong Relationships With Customers Can Form the Bedrock of Future Innovation.”
Consider though that whilst it is a knee jerk reaction to cut costs, try not to rely on this as your only business tactic as your competitors will be doing exactly the same thing. The way to succeed in the current market is to be a leader, not a follower, so ensure you have a carefully prepared game plan.
Look at what makes your propositions unique? What do you offer that no one else can? How do you add real value to your customers, rather than just a half price bid? Focus on what your competitors aren’t offering, and vigorously market it.
3. Be Clever With Your Marketing
Your marketing strategy is more important than ever before – Think creatively and find different ways to grab people’s attention and keep them coming back for more.
P3M3, The Portfolio, Programme, and Project Management Maturity Model provides a framework for organizations to assess and benchmark their current performance and effectively develop plans for improvement. This useful tool can be used to assess your clients maturity in managing portfolios, programmes and projects and ensure their investments in the portfolio programme and project management improvements are justifiable.
Maybe you could partner up with another management consultant and combine skills to offer an incentive to your customers that will improve business for the both of you?
4. Leading With Clarity and Commitment
Don’t lie to employees and hide the magnitude of the situation. Honesty is the best policy. Business functional leads at these firms should establish concrete milestones to gauge progress toward clear goals. You can inspire employees not only with motivational messages, but also through incentives such as wage hikes, and investment in developing talent. This approach is as crucial as improving processes and deploying new technology. We’ve seen strategies clearly communicated both internally and externally at Mace, Arcadis, Turner and Townsend, and others throughout the initial downturn. Though this may sound like a platitude, management must treat employees with respect and dignity if they want exceptionally performance and occasional sacrifice during tough times.
5. Embrace the Power of Online
Social media is a incredibly powerful tool through which to reach your target audience. You should start to unlock the power of blogging, building a solid readership and becoming a thought leader in your industry using websites like LinkedIn, Medium and of course Project Journal. As your readership continues to grow, so will your social media following – and by communicating frequently with your followers and potential customers online, you have more chance of drumming up more business and closing that deal. As the economy improves, your loyal followers will stay with you.
These five practices are of equal value for management consultants to remain competitive and win the brutal game and market share that is the long slow climb toward economic recovery.
Although times are very tough for management consultants and construction firms recently, there is light at the end of the tunnel – and those who have been clever and innovative in their business strategies will continue to thrive long after the Brexit recession.