Shop Life Columnists

The 'New Normal' or the Next Step?

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Just a couple weeks ago, I was talking with the owner of a shop in Delaware. Business was down. Car count was well below typical numbers, and sales were understandably stagnant. Like many out there, he didn’t have the slightest idea of when it would turn around. Yet, he hadn’t laid anyone off, and there were no hour reductions for his team.

Everyone was busy. I could hear it in the background of our phone call—his team talking, power tools blaring, large items moving across the floor, etc.; all of it seemed out of balance with the update he gave me about the shop. I was a tad confused. He explained that, yes, they still have some work coming through the doors, but the slow time allows them to take on other projects. They were reorganizing the shop floor for better efficiency, doing a dramatic clean of the facility, they were picking up and working on long-term projects, and a number of other items that would usually die a slow death as the last not-crossed-off items on a to-do list.

But, on top of that, they were diving in headfirst to support their community. They had people packing meals. They were storing items for local charities and church groups. They were working with local schools to assist with delivery and support of certain items. Clearly, none of that work can be tied to revenue—yet.

But that’s the point. “We know the pandemic and this uncertainty won’t last forever,” he told me (I’m paraphrasing a bit here). “We know this will end at some point, so our goal is to do what we can to push through it and wind up better on the other side.” The community will remember, he said, and so will his customers and his team. In the end, he’s making an investment in his community that will allow his business to take that next step once the market rights itself.

At NOLN, we’ve heard a lot of stories like this about business owners and managers across the country finding unique ways to push through a time of adversity—strategies and solutions that will make their businesses stronger in the long-term.

You can read about some of those stories in this month’s cover feature. The feature showcases the determination and focus that so many of you have used to persevere, the mindset that’s needed to ensure your future success. Hearing these stories, it brings me back to some of the best advice I’ve ever received. It actually came from a relative after my first kid was born— and immediately screamed and cried with colic for the first 10 or 11 months of his life.

Everything is a phase. Good or bad, life changes, we move on, we evolve and adapt, and we try to improve and grow. The phase we’re in is never our “new normal.” It’s simply the current step before we reach the next one.

So, what are we going to do right now to prepare for that next step?

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