Part one of the SEMA Recession Survival Series Webinar program recently kicked off with the webinar entitled “Taking Positive Control of Your Company When the Economic News Is Negative,” presented by Richard Jones, chairman and CEO of Management 2000 Inc., Dean Calvo of Management 2000 Inc. and Justus Breese of Automotive News.
The presentation was the first of seven installments that will be held over the next two months in order to address the pressing issues being faced by businesses in today’s tough economic times.
As the initial speaker, Breese reassured listeners that there will be a turnaround in the economy, specifically within the auto industry. He referenced a poll by Consumer Reports that reveals 48% of Americans delayed a vehicle purchase in 2008.
“There is a great deal of pent-up demand and when things get better, and when confidence improves, there will be buyers again—and things will improve,” he said.
Breese then revealed that in order to survive until things do recover, a company must design a turnaround plan. Breese referenced Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, for managing the country’s largest auto retailer through this economic crisis. He explained that Jackson committed to cut $200 million from the company’s cost structure.
Jackson reported in 2008 that the goal had been met, and by the year end 2008, the company had lost only $1.2 billion. Jackson achieved his plan by cutting the recommended vehicle supply of 60 days to a 50-day supply. This dramatically cut the company’s new-vehicle inventory by 60% in the first quarter, and Jackson’s goal was met when costs were adjusted to meet the new demand levels.
“We clearly have to take a long, hard look at our businesses,” Breese said. “We have to gauge new levels of demand, and we have to adjust our costs and our structures to meet these new levels.”
Jones then took over the presentation to advise companies to change their management approach. As opposed to going to the office and dealing with typical daily tasks and those that appear throughout the day, Jones said, “it is absolutely critical that you now focus on mitigating loss by developing a plan of action and implementation. Your life must be spent around this now.”
He continued by stating that management can be a company’s big problem since managers are too comfortable meeting their perception of the company’s needs, in contrast to the actual needs.
“You have to broaden your own perspectives now as management of the company,” Breese said. “A management team should develop the needs of the company. You need to tie them to the goals and objectives that are measurable and then base it all on a strategic plan which focuses on implementation.”
Jones also advises companies to anticipate problems and to make decisions about issues before they become conflicts. Not only is doing so more effective, but the company/employee culture will remain solid, he says.
To download an audio or PDF version of the complete webinar, click here. To download all past SEMA webinars, click here.
Don’t miss the upcoming webinars:
“Increasing Profitability With Fewer Customers, Sponsored by the SEMA Manufacturers' Rep Council (MRC),” Thursday, March 12, 2009, 10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. (PDT)
“Job Costing Systems That Will Boost Your Cash Flow,” Thursday, April 2, 2009, 10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. (PDT)
To view the entire calendar of the SEMA Recession Survival Series Webinar program, click here.