Managers advised to focus on objectives during downturn

A packed seminar room at the South West Regional Growers (SWRG) show's Garden Retail Workshop heard executive adviser and HW columnist Leslie Kossoff urge owners and managers to focus on where they want their businesses to be in five years' time.

Kossoff - who gave an impromptu talk on the economic crisis to garden retail businesses, growers and others commercial horticulture businesses attending the show - said that while we now know that the next period is going to be tougher than we might have hoped, "tough, doesn't mean impossible".

The session, which was chaired by NFU board for horticulture chairman Richard Hirst, heard Kossoff's central message: that it is absolutely within the power of management - whether in the private or public sector - to determine how their organisation or business will fare during the downturn.

"Nothing is inevitable," she told the workshop.

It will be those leaders and managers who put today's fears to one side, and keep focused on where they want to be in five - or even 10 - years' time, that will retain the ability to see and exploit new opportunities thrown up by the changing conditions, she added.

Now is not the time, said Kossoff, to stop training staff. Instead, she urged managers to "train the hell out of them", on the grounds that they are the ones who can tell owners and managers where there is waste that can be cut.

Kossoff also urged managers to "start growing your business now" with incentives that keep customers coming back. She called on businesses to change the language they use to promote what they have to offer from the point of view of their customers.

Meanwhile, everyone needs to start building a much better - and different - business case than they had before, she said. Start preparing now, and when cash begins to become available again in six or 12 months' time, they can be one step ahead.

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