For many consultancy and secondment companies, the demand for their services is now very difficult to estimate. Clients step on the brakes and projects come to a standstill. Future scenarios range from inky black to a temporary dip. The number of available candidates in the market is increasing rapidly, creating more competition for the scarce jobs. The bench fills up and you see your profit evaporating with sad eyes.
What to do now? Can your strategic plan go to the trash? Do you freeze all investments and recruitment? Are you saying goodbye to employees who do not have a paid assignment?
Afterwards everything is easy
The question is, of course, whether your strategy and execution was good. Do you have enough spread over clients and markets? How relevant and current is your relationship network? Does your company have a distinctive positioning and good focus? What is the brand awareness? Do you have a good mix of experienced and less experienced employees? Does your turnover consist entirely of short-term hour / invoice work or do you also have long-term contracts? Can you decide who carries out the assignments or are you dependent on the opinion of the client? Can your company take a beating due to a strong balance sheet and healthy margins on the projects?
Now, looking back, you probably have all kinds of ideas how it should have been different. And you can certainly draw a number of wise lessons for the future. But for now you are in troubles. How to go on?
Cut your coat according to your cloth
Certainly with consultancy and secondment companies, it is important to take measures quickly if the bench threatens to fill up. It is a high-risk, high reward business. In good times, excellent returns can be made. But if things go wrong, the results can go very wrong. And it may be that the government’s aid measures are not sufficient.
Depending on your financial buffers, immediate intervention is necessary:
- Stop (temporarily) unnecessary or urgent external expenditure;
- Do not renew temporary contracts of employees without a paid assignment;
- Use available hours to strengthen the services and / or organization;
- See which employees from the internal staff can make a paid contribution to assignments;
- Search creatively and out of the box for alternative assignments;
- Intensify contacts with your (potential) clients in a valuable way for them;
- Involve the entire organization in the above steps in a motivating way;
- Communicate clearly and frequently about organizational and individual goals and results.
A balancing act
Parallel to the above short-term actions, it is important to brainstorm with colleagues, clients and consultants about the longer term:
- What is the most plausible scenario for the development of your business and market?
- What lessons do you learn from the past and the situation in which you have now found yourself?
As Winston Churchill said, “Never waste a good crisis.” This is the momentum to critically review and strengthen your strategic plan!
Here we see the true leader. That balancing artist who is able to intervene hard and accelerate in the short term. But at the same time keep an eye for the long term, continue the implementation of the strategic plan and further strengthen the plan.