“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell
Those who know me know I’m not a big TV watcher, but recently I have discovered a new favorite show. It’s called Preppers on the National Geographic Channel on Tuesday nights. The show is about people who are preparing for a catastrophic event that will lead to societal chaos. Each episode they chronicle 4 different “preppers” and who measures they are taking to prepare for what they believe might soon happen. The scenarios differ. Some are preparing for economic disaster, others for electromagnetic pulses (EMP’s) causing massive power outages, still others are preparing for natural disasters such as volcanoes or earthquakes. Regardless of what is driving them, these are people who are preparing for the worse and doing what they can to ensure the survival of their families.
The show really intrigues me as I tend to have a natural desire to prepare for the worse. I was thinking about this whole prepping idea from a business standpoint. I believe this is an area where many businesses fall short and virtually all can improve.
We know that economic conditions are cyclical, just as we know that every year gas prices rise in May and June then fall off sharply as the summer drags on. By the time elections roll around in November, outrageous gas prices are usually long forgotten. We know that in business, just as with anything else, there is always a calm before the storm.
So how does business prepare for the coming apocalypse that may be headed our way? Many sectors of the business world are facing that apocalypse now and have been for several years now. Some will survive, many will not. What can and should we learn from those businesses that have not only survived but even grown and prospered in the current economic climate?
The self storage business has undoubtedly suffered in recent years but certainly not to the extent of many other industries. At Uncle Bob’s, we’ve actually grown in the past year acquiring over 50 additional properties, an increase of well over 10% to our total holdings. How? How were we able to expand our business when so many others fell behind? We got leaner and meaner. We learned how to do more with less. We focused on the things that we could do during those trying times rather than on what we could not do such as expanding our internal training programs. We leveraged our buying power. We looked for undervalued opportunity and positioned ourselves to take advantage of those opportunities when they appeared. We even expanded our repertoire to include new opportunities such as business management services.
I believe what we’ve witnessed is a perfect blueprint for prepping for lean times. I think it would be awesome if Washington D.C would take a close look at what our company has done and emulate those steps.
But what if the worst is yet to come? Yes, the nightly news tells us the recovery is underway, but anyone with a lick of sense knows fuzzy math is used to show fewer unemployed. What if what we’ve seen over the past 3 years is just the beginning? What else can businesses do to prep for what the future holds?
I believe to weather the possible future storm we have to really focus on the local level. Stores and store managers must utilize this time to build their networks. By that I mean building relationships with apartment managers, home builders, and realtors. They have to increase their community involvement through networking with neighborhood associations, sporting associations and local schools and businesses. The referral aspect is always important for business success, but in lean times, even more so.
Just hanging an “OPEN” sign on the door doesn’t cut it any longer. Customers want to know that you support them before they will support you. Even multi-billion dollar corporations must drill down to the customer level to succeed in the possible coming storm, sort of like the now popular activist slogan, “Think globally, Act locally”.
Monty Rainey is a District Manager working in the self storage industry since 1996 and currently overseeing 13 stores in the San Antonio, TX area. He is also a leadership coach and public speaker. For a free consultation, please contact Monty at 830-743-2139 or visit his website at http://www.montyrainey.com .
- MEET THE PREPPERS: Perhaps We Should All Be Following Their Lead? (twighlightslastgleaming.wordpress.com)
- New reality show highlights preppers preparing for doomsday (theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com)
- My Inner Doomsday Prepper (barefootinvt.wordpress.com)
- Doomsday Preppers on National Geographic Channel – A REVIEW (suburbanprepper.wordpress.com)