Prospering in tough times

If you need to send a package overnight, what’s the
first company that comes to mind?

More than likely, it’s FedEx.
The company is so synonymous with overnight delivery that its name is often
used as a verb, as in, “FedEx
this to the Chicago office,”
even if the shipment is being
handled by a competitor.

The company has been on
the Forbes list of America’s
Best Big Companies since
the rankings were created in
1999 — one of only 21 companies to do that. The list
takes into account things
like financial performance,
growth and corporate governance to rank organizations.

But I’m not writing this to
encourage you to switch
delivery companies. I’m
pointing this out because it’s
an example of a company
that has weathered various
economic conditions, both
good and bad, and still managed to maintain its spot as
one of the best companies in
the nation.

With what looks to be difficult economic times ahead,
I think there’s something we
can all learn from FedEx:
Stick to the fundamentals.

At its core, FedEx is a pretty boring business. It takes a
package from Point A to
Point B in a given amount of
time. The more you pay, the
faster it gets there.

Pretty simple concept, yet
it has yielded a business that
does about $35 billion in revenue.

The company has done
pretty well regardless of the
economic conditions because it sticks to the basics.
It delivers packages and
does it well. This makes customers happy, so they keep
coming back.

A tough economy means
you need to make sure you
are focusing on what you do
best and executing the fundamentals of your business.
Regardless of whether you
are a national company or a
small local operation, getting
back to the basics can help
you navigate difficult times.

Here are four things to
help you get through an economic downturn:


  • Build relationships. People
    ultimately like to do business
    with people they like, so make
    sure you are maintaining a
    strong network. Having a
    group of businesses working
    together makes it easier for
    everyone to weather the storm.



  • Have integrity. This is as
    simple as doing what you
    say you will do and will also
    help you build stronger relationships. People have to be
    able to trust you to get the
    job done right, especially in
    times when every penny



  • Be fair with price. Just
    because you could potentially gouge someone on price
    doesn’t mean you should. Be
    competitive and make your
    profit, but be fair.



  • Deliver a quality product and
    This is something
    FedEx has mastered. You
    know exactly what you are
    going to get from FedEx.
    Your customers should feel
    the same way about you and
    your products. Give them a
    product and service level
    they can’t get anywhere else.


With today’s news all about
a declining stock market, rising gas prices and industry
scandal, it’s easy to develop
a negative outlook. But by
following the example of
FedEx, you can prosper in a
down economy.

Stick to the fundamentals to
get you through the storm. If
you build relationships, have
integrity, have a fair price,
and focus on your core product and deliver it on time, you
can’t go wrong.

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your
comments at (800) 988-4726 or [email protected].

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