Challenging times sharpen the instincts
and a recession can demand radical initiatives.

For some leasing professionals,
recessionary conditions are familiar territory even though this one
has different characteristics from its predecessors; but for
others, the turmoil is an unwelcome novelty.

Tough conditions are an appropriate
environment for assessing where a business currently is, where it
needs to go and what the best way might be to get there.

In adapting to the evolving economic and
market climate it is important that the focus is not solely on
tackling day-to-day business issues but also on longer-term

A knee-jerk reaction might be to batten down
the hatches and start to trim budgets, but any decision making
should be reasonable and reasoned, not just reactionary and short

If there is a need to achieve savings,
cost-cutting should not be indiscriminate as it could weaken the
business and result in not merely trimming the fat but also
removing some of the muscle.

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But a well thought through approach should
achieve a leaner and more efficient operation.

The need to make savings is often manifested
by cuts in one of a company’s biggest outlays – people, as staff
costs or issues come to the fore.

Tough decisions need to be made when assessing
who must go and who should be retained.

It is important to bear in mind that some of
the skill sets needed during a recessionary period may differ from
those for boom times, such as today’s greater emphasis on enhanced
risk management.

This evaluation of skill sets should also
strive to identify the competencies that will be required to drive
the business forward and seize any emerging opportunities. How does
your company’s talent stack up?

Having sorted the wheat from the chaff, the
emphasis switches to attracting, retaining and developing key
people that possess skills beneficial to the business.

The input of external expertise and experience
may be another consideration as a cost-effective means of plugging
any gaps, or helping to secure the right mix of talent, or for
driving specific projects forward.

Many leasing companies are putting a stop on
all external spending and this could at best be a “quick fix” or,
more likely, counter productive in the long-term.

When management encounters problems that are
outside the scope of its experience, the simplest solution is to
seek help and guidance from someone with the expertise

Even, indeed especially, in a downturn,
businesses need to innovate while seeking ways to achieve
efficiencies and make savings.

Some companies may prefer to shy away from
outsiders but this is not always a smart move when looking to
improve the business proposition.

Now is the time to take steps to help
recession proof your business by reviewing and sharpening your
skills and key assets.

Tha author is
 principal at The Alta Group and a former finance
director of ING Lease UK