No Such Thing as Downtime

Challenges: Leadership, Read

Posted by Jessica Peterson-Rangel

Estimated Reading Time : 4 min.

MakingChips DowntimeIdeally, business is booming for you right now. Your machines are going a mile a minute, your employees are laser-focused, and your clients are beaming from the glow of their satisfaction.

However, if you’re not quite in that category (or are so far away from it that you needed binoculars to see it in the distance), don’t worry. A lot of businesses are in your boat right now. Arguably, enough businesses are in your boat it has distorted itself into a harbor for the time being. 

While a lot of businesses found support through the CARES act, COVID-19’s devastating impact has been felt across the globe. As the United States takes action to flatten the curve, it’s natural to question what you should be focused on today, in order to prepare for what’s ahead.


Putting the Slowdown to Good Use

While the pandemic will undoubtedly be listed as one of the most challenging times for your business, you have been granted one of the most extraordinary gifts you’ve been asking for all of your lifetime.


The time to slow down and focus on all of the tasks you’ve neglected or pushed to the side while immersing yourself in day-to-day operations. Consider this a waiting season, both in your personal and professional life. Take the steps to safeguard your business and pull out a microscope to examine underdeveloped areas of your business.


Update Your Materials

So many times you’re busy producing or selling your services and products that you never get a chance to update your collateral. So sit down, grab a cup of coffee, take a deep breath in, and crack open your employee handbook. When’s the last time you evaluated how your core values were working for your company? Does your website reflect the level of services and products that you offer? If your CRM is anything like ours, it has leads waiting to be filtered through and added to the appropriate channels. 


Your email templates, contracts, and sales collateral are waiting for that extra bit of love you just haven’t been able to give when you were busy… and you WILL get too busy for them again.


Work on Your Internal Processes and Workflows

In an ideal world, I would have…. How many times has that run through your mind? The idea of implementing a new standard operating procedure while managing ongoing projects can be daunting. Embrace the slower culture while you have the time and start to comb through your business practices - keeping an eye on anything that could cause potential roadblocks or speed bumps for your team or clients. 


Are you operating as efficiently as possible? As manufacturers and general AGILE enthusiasts, the MakingChips team goes all in and LOVES the Lean and AGILE methodology. Now’s a great time to explore implementing a Kanban board, sprints, daily standups, and steps towards a workflow that focuses on iterative development.  


Evolve the Client Experience

We should start this by saying, we don’t all come out of the gates offering a classic Jim Carr “first class” experience 😉 Take the time to view your business from a client perspective. Where are gaps in service? Travel the customer’s journey yourself and develop a strategy that meets the high standards your brand sets. 


One of the ways we encourage you to do this is by exploring self-service customer experiences. Providing in-depth documentation, FAQs, and how-to materials not only help your customers find what they’re looking for quickly but also comes with the added benefit of alleviating stress on your support team and providing great SEO value through content marketing.


Just Keep Posting (Yes, Really)

Businesses still need fuel to run - don’t stop the social media sharing and newsletter releases. Share your honest updates, your plan moving forward, and how you commit to showing up for your clients. During our time of social distance, we’re still looking for a connection to ease our isolation. Keeping these channels open allows you to maintain engagement and stay involved with the people vested in your work.


Look At Your Numbers

Take the time to review your data. Your sales reports and web analytics are a treasure trove on information to help you craft a game without the guesswork. 


What products are the biggest needle movers? What pages are underperforming on your site? What keywords have you been neglecting? Information is power. Modifying your approach not only leads to better results but amplifies your customer experience. You find leads where people are looking and you invest your efforts into the places you find the most return.


Nurture Your Network

The slow times won’t last forever - and when it starts moving again you might feel like you’re Bill Elliott taking on the Talladega Superspeedway in 1987 (yes, that’s a NASCAR reference for you). Avoid the whiplash and partner with like-minded teams to craft a plan to support and leverage each other’s services when things get back up to speed. Referral networks offer you a safeguard to handle any overflow you might encounter, as well as help you foster stronger relationships with compatible businesses in the #MetalworkingNation.


We’re Here For Good

If I’m sure of just one thing:, its that the manufacturing community is resilient. While this pandemic has affected us all, it’s not the first and won’t be the last thing to shake businesses like ours. I can’t peer into a crystal ball and predict the future of our country - but I know that bad times don’t last forever. The best way to find value in your downtime is to stay focused on improving your systems, strategies, and skill sets. Focus on ways you can elevate your team and continue to fight day after day to make chips.