In MDM’s 2010 Economic Forecast for Wholesale Distribution Webcast, Adam Fein painted a not-so-rosy picture of what this recovery is likely to look like. For a number of reasons, not many distributors will feel much of a bounce. It will be more like a grind to find growth in new areas as we emerge from the worst recession since World War II.
While he agrees with many other economists that technically the third quarter will probably be the official end of the recession, 2010 is still going to be a slow-growth year for many distributors. And there have been some fundamental shifts in certain industries that distributors have to address. (MDM will have an article recapping his views in the Dec. 10 issue of MDM.)
In his presentation, Fein offered some great questions for management to ask. Two questions in particular stuck out to me in terms of making the most of a weak recovery:
Question 1: How do we expect customers to change their sourcing strategies as the market recovers? This has been a two-edged sword for many distributors. Some customers have outsourced more to their best suppliers; others have used the downturn to shop for price and/or new suppliers. This quarter is a critical budget and planning period. It’s an opportunity to learn as much as possible about your customers’ planning for 2010 and how you can position your company to be a bigger part of the solution.
Question 2: How can we keep employees motivated during a slower-than-normal recovery period? This year it has been tough to keep people positive. But energy, enthusiasm and initiative taken by employees will likely dictate what 2010 performance looks like. People like to do business with companies that are focused on their needs, with a clear plan for how to be mutually successful. It’s critical that your employees understand that the company is future-focused, and at least has a plan and goals.
Sit down with your managers and key employees to discuss the two questions listed above and others presented in the Webcast as you prepare for the start of a critical new year.