Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Recession Is An Opportunity

I was driving home from a store today and I was thinking about all of the bad customer service experiences I have had in the last year. They range from not being able to get service at stores to not being able to find what I was looking for because the shelves are disorganized.

I could be wrong, but I believe that many stores are currently under-staffed because they are trying to reduce overhead in the face current market conditions. From a business perspective, I can understand the logic... if sales are flat or declining, then you need to reduce your costs to maintain or increase profitability.

But this leaves a bad taste in the mouth of your customers. And it does this at a crucial time. As a consumer, I have two broad choices to make each day: do I spend my money or not. And I believe that in times like these, that question becomes all the more important. In the good times, consumers think about where they are going to spend their money but in recessions, people think about if they are going to spend their money much harder in a recession than when times are good.

So if a consumer has decided they are going to spend their money, which is probably a decision people are not making very often, should a firm just throw the opportunity for that purchase (to fill that demand) out the window with poor service? I think not.

This leads me into viewing a recession as an opportunity. I think that smart firms understand this and see this opportunity to grab market share from the competition. For this reason, I say that a recession is an opportunity.

I think the same applies to career planning. If you are successful in your career and times are good, then the opportunity cost of switching careers is high because then you will forgo all the progress you could have made if switch career paths. When you're in a recession, that opportunity cost is much lower, so if you're going to make the switch - now is the time.

The job market is not very good right now - trust me - but there are opportunities and I read last week that we may never, at least for a while, go back to the levels of employment we were at a few years ago. I read this to mean that some people may never get back into their old industries. Worse, some people may never even get back in the job market or have a really hard time doing so.

So I say that if you're going to make a move - now is the time. It is all about perspective and I think everything changes if you look at a recession like an opportunity.

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