“Take a deep breath and count to ten.” This is a phrase often uttered by one parent to another when a child becomes unruly. It’s also a thought that crosses your mind when your boss, or co-worker or customer really ticks you off. It’s also good advice when making business decisions. Whether times are good or bad, it’s always a good idea to step back, take a breath and consider the long-range consequences of your decisions.
Tough times – Tough decisions
Things are really difficult in the construction industry. It’s more competitive than anyone can remember. It used to be commonplace for three to five bidders to respond to an RFP. Companies were busy and only responded to opportunities that were very desirable and a perfect fit.
Things are different these days. When an RFP is issued, it’s not uncommon for twenty or thirty companies to respond. Many are bidding on work that they would have historically considered much too small, or large, or far away, or just a bad fit. When it comes to pricing, margins are so thin that some bidders put themselves at risk of financial failure by accepting the work.
Short-term decisions – Long-term impact
How do such decisions impact the long-range brand position of a company? A company that has a reputation for outstanding work as a builder of hospitals may risk permanent harm to its brand position by chasing a very small project in an industry they would never have considered. When the economy improves, however, their customers may be confused about who they are. As the old saying goes, you can’t unpeel an onion.” Clients and prospects may be wondering if the builder is still a high-end specialist or a does-all generalist. If they’re looking for a high-end specialist, they may find themselves off the bid list.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that tough times require tough decisions and you have to do whatever is necessary to make ends meet. I’m just suggesting that before making brand-altering decisions, you step back, take a deep breath and look down the road a few years. What will this decision mean to your company’s future?
You see, with every business decision comes the need to consider its brand impact. Even the small ones can have long-lasting consequences. Do you lower prices and risk being viewed as a discounter? Do you cut staff and risk being seen as understaffed or “in trouble?” Do you expand or add new services and risk losing your core focus?
As marketing communications and public relations counselors, we often work closely with clients who are facing such decisions. Our job, as we see it, is to take an unemotional, long-range look and offer a fresh view of how today’s actions might impact the future of the brand.
Whatever the circumstances, it’s good advice to allow time for serious consideration before making a decision that could change your business and your life.