News reporters like to tell us that unemployment is rising and consumer spending will suffer from it. But even if there’s 10 percent unemployment, it means 90 percent of eligible workers are employed and spending money. They may be more cautious and want more value for each dollar, though, so find a way to offer that, and they will do business with you. Make people feel that your products or services are worth what they’re paying for them and add extras services or perks at no cost to the customer.
Even the 10 percent who are not working are spending money for essentials. They are living off furlough pay, savings, or government money to get them through the unemployed period. They just have to be more selective in their purchases.
Another opportunity that is available to you during periods of high unemployment is hiring good people who are not working because of layoffs or closed companies. This is an unfortunate situation for the unemployed, but it’s there, so take advantage of it if you can. These potential employees might not be available to your small business during normal times (you may not have the budget to hire these people under normal circumstances), but they are now. Interview in depth to see who has ideas and experience that can help your company right away. They may love the new challenge and be willing to accept a lower salary and/or lesser benefits than they were getting at their previous job. Even if they
only stay a year or so, you can learn from them, and what you learn is yours forever.
Economic slowdown is also a time to look seriously at any employees currently on your staff who are not performing up to the level you expect from them. If you’ve had meetings and talks with them in the past, and you aren’t seeing any results, maybe it’s time to replace them. Some people value their job more than others do, and in tough financial times you want to retain the employees who do value their employment. Don’t threaten the lesser employees, because that’s only a temporary solution—just let them go. There are probably many people in the job market who will eagerly strive to meet your expectations. If handled correctly, this situation can benefit your business and may even open new doors for
the person you let go. Some people are in the wrong job and need that nudge to move on. Explain your current situation to them, but be firm.