Eduardo Bottger understands that explosive growth or a turn for the worse can happen literally overnight. It’s one of his industry’s challenges, and it’s one of the reasons he is always prepared.
Bottger forecasted the recession, but alPunto Advertising Inc. was at first immune to the economy, posting a record year in 2008 with $45.5 million in billings. The company predicted work and revenue would slip in 2009, so it hired employees on short-term contracts during its growth, leading them to not have to lay off full-time staff when things slowed.
“It’s looking into the crystal ball,” says the founder, principal, president and executive creative director of the Hispanic agency. “But to look into the crystal ball you have to have all the information you can get, all the information you can gather.”
In order to truly be prepared for fluctuations, you must research and predict trends, use that information to devise a plan and share your findings with employees.
Smart Business spoke with Bottger about how to predict and prepare for business fluctuations.
Research the possibilities. We do what we do for our clients we look at trends, we look at research. The management team is always looking at the different areas of their specialty that might have an impact not only on our business but, most importantly, in our clients’ businesses. When we look at all the trends, and trends is a synonym for future, we get an idea for what can happen.
There’s a lot of research available, published research, and I think anybody who wants to find research in their particular area of expertise will find it virtually at no cost. If they have a good network or if they belong to associations that are pertinent to their industries, they should be able to find it there without having to pay any additional monies.
Apply the information you’ve found. The next step is how it applies to your particular industry and specifically to your company. That is where you need to rely on the top talent on your team. In our case, we bring people from seven different areas. They bring their expertise and their talent and their instinct in trying to figure out what we think could happen, how everything that has happened on a micro level will affect our particular business and our clients’ businesses.
There’s a lot of instinct that goes there, but instinct is based on facts and information we collect and the information that we share internally.
One of the secrets is there’s so much information out there maybe the first step is to figure out what is the information you want to consider and which is the one you don’t. That is by putting together a team of experts that will give the right perspective and will work as a filter of what is relevant to our business and our clients’ business. What is the information that we think is reliable, what is the information that we think is looking ahead, not telling us what happened but what could happen.
Create a physical plan. The power of a written plan is just priceless. In other words, if there’s a plan, even though everybody agrees on the plan and it’s only been shared verbally, it is not as powerful as putting any of this vision or power of goals in writing.
It makes for some mysterious reasons putting things on paper in a very simple way it has to be a very simple document and it has to be a living document that people can relate to and have access to all of a sudden it’s real. All of a sudden it’s a live objective, as opposed to a PowerPoint document that sits on people’s desks.
In our case, it always tells (us) the health of our clients’ businesses. We do believe that if our clients do well, we will do well.
We do bimonthly projections. Our business is so ever-changing for the better or for the worse that we have to keep a close eye on our projections. So we’re always projecting, we’re always figuring out what if. What if we were to do this project, what if this project was canceled, what if instead of getting this project we get this other one? There’s always looking at the business and the workload at least two weeks in advance.
At the end of the day, it has to be a simple plan. I do believe in simplicity, especially if the company is not a large corporation, but even for large corporations, the plan has to be simple because otherwise it will not be properly executed.
I have found that the most complicated the process the most complicated the plan for us or for our client the (fewer) chances it will be executed properly. And without proper execution even the best plans can fail.
Share the plan. As you grow and as more people are involved, it’s harder and harder to share the vision or share the goals with the rest of the team. You have to share it, hopefully there’s buy-in, hopefully there’s commitment from the team at all levels of execution.
The fact is it most likely won’t happen at all levels. But people have to be informed, people have to understand why things are done in a certain fashion, and people have to understand what the goals are that’s where things in many ways become magical. All of a sudden everybody is working in the same direction; everybody is pulling for the same things. People understand your mission and the big picture, not just what they’re suppose to do at a particular time on a particular day, but they understand how they fit within the bigger goals of the organization.
You share the plan with everybody. It might not be the full plan, you might not share all of the reasons or all the thinking that went into it, but yes, you share.
Personally, I take time to share that with all the managers and with every new employee that we hire. Everybody else gets a summary and the actual plan.
How to reach: alPunto Advertising Inc., (714) 544-0888 or www.alpunto.com