Even the Bad Times Can Be Good
The economy was going too good to last—and of course it didn't. But is this necessarily a bad thing for distributors?
It depends upon how you look at it. Yes, the stock markets are down, companies are laying off employees and everyone wants to cut expenses. So you may find customers trying to do with fewer of your products, delaying orders or splitting up large orders into smaller ones over time.
On the other hand, staff cuts make outsourcing more attractive to companies that no longer want to handle non-core business functions themselves. Also, any paperwork reduction projects that require an investment in Internet technology are being scrutinized very carefully. There is a fear in the corporate community that dot-coms may not be around long enough for a project to come to fruition.
For a downsized company, time becomes more precious. A distributor with an outsourcing program that can fulfill all of a customer's printed product needs—and probably costs less than an existing program—could be welcome in this situation. In addition, the distributor can create an Internet ordering process without the current dot-com stigma. A few new or converted accounts of this type could help make up for revenue lost because of smaller orders from current clients.
Furthermore, economic downturns don't last forever. As we've seen in the past, companies that have learned how to cut costs during difficult times generally maintain these programs in better economic times. Distributors that pursue aggressive tactics are not only helping customers now, they could find themselves in an enviable position when a healthy economy returns.
Bill Drennan, Editorial Director