British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated, “There is nothing wrong with change….if it is in the right direction.” In this current condition, it can seem moving in the right direction is unclear and unknown, with so many challenges we face during this global pandemic. Businesses have met so many problems over the last several months from total shutdown, laying off workers, pay cuts, loss of revenue, and complete business closures. What have we learned from these difficult times? Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, stated it best; “Change before you have to.”
One of the lessons, as an organization, we implemented right away was to look at new opportunities for new products, services, and with our customers. We looked at how our customers were shifting from the production of items they had been producing for years to new PPE items. We looked at what we could do to support them with labeling and promoting these new products with new or stock labels. We developed more robust relationships with our customers by working with and providing resources based on the pivot many were making. Partnerships rely on trust and commitment; these trials that our customers have faced for the last several months have encouraged growth and developed our ability to be a reliable partner.
Flexibility has been critical to successfully navigating this new challenging business world. Some of our customers came to us as the viral pandemic began that slowed economic growth and affected everyday lives with concerns about paying invoices. Our customers saw products returned, canceled purchase orders, and full-scale manufacturing shutdowns; they did not see the healthy cash flow to be able to continue paying mounting invoices becoming due. As calls and emails came in asking for additional time to pay invoices, we had to make a decision; maintain the status quo and say no, or be flexible and work with our customers. We choose to consider the long-term relationship that we strive for with each customer, working with each one on a specific plan to help them in their time of need. The outcome, our customers fulfilled their commitments to the financial arrangement established with them. We now have stronger business relationships because we worked together to support one another.
Elenor Roosevelt, an advocate for social and equality change, stated, “In business, courtesy and efficiency have a symbolic relationship.” Flexibility and working with our customer’s needs allowed a greater understanding of how we can be more than just a transactional partner but an essential resource to our customers. We are grateful for all of our customers, but more importantly, we love being a part of their journey.