July 15, 2020—John Waters has survived 1987's stock market crash, the dot-com bubble bursting in, and the Great Recession of the late '00s.
But the COVID-19 crisis is something different entirely.
"I have not seen anything like this," said Waters, a Phoenix-area business coach who specializes in helping businesses like repair shops grow their business. "The closest comparison to this would be something like 9/11. I was in business at that time, it was growing, and when 9/11 occurred, business stalled for about 6 months.
"But with this," Waters said of the COVID-19 pandemic, "basically the economy just got shut down. (But) we're all in the same boat."
That said, Waters actually envisions opportunities for businesses like auto repair facilities, even as the pandemic lingers. And, he's currently helping several business leaders bounce back from the crisis by formulating 90-day plans for business recovery.
Here are a few of his biggest tips for business owners as they navigate uncertain times in 2020:
- Don't go it alone. "This is the time to step up as a leader," the business coach noted..
- Prioritize what's important. "You need to have a plan -- have a plan and understand where you're going," Waters said.
- Cut expenses. Waters said it's imperative to know you're runway as a business operator right now, meaning "know what your pipeline is for opportunities."
- Stay connected with customers. It's as important as ever to let clients know you care, Waters said. "Make marketing improvements," he suggested. "This is a time where you're going to have to go find business, because people aren't (as likely) to just walk in the door now. This is a chance to go and find the opportunities."
- Conserve cash. "Unless (business or facility) improvements are actually necessary," Waters said, "I'd preserve cash."
- Examine your true break-even point. Waters said that, during a crisis, it's necessary to closely study what your business's overhead expenses are, "and then knowing what your margins are. Answer that to get the volume you have to produce to cover your overhead. Know what your break even is, and then know how many units you need to do, at an average dollar amount, to get to that."
Above all else, the second half of 2020 will demand business operators to innovate, Waters concluded, and examine how they can improve their operations.He doesn't own a crystal ball, but Waters does possess vast amounts of business experience. That expertise tells him that the economy will largely bounce back by year's end.And, Waters adds, "this is an opportunity. There's a famous saying: 'Don't waste a good crisis.'"