Posts Tagged ‘Recession in Ireland’

What team are you playing like?

October 3, 2011
Brazil

What team are you playing like?

For some reason this year always felt like it was going to be one hell of a challenge. I must admit I was really worried about the effect of the budget changes and the reduced disposable income that we all have as a result. While the budget has had the predicted negative affect on the domestic economy a lot of things have changed, which have managed to balance this out.

The most important of these is a genuine attitude shift from people in business who are digging deep and really trying their best to make things happen for themselves. A true fighting spirit and resolve is coming through and people are trying “positive” things in the marketplace. We are at the coal face and are witnessing the uplift first hand – We are really busy with some really exciting new projects and it is all down to people being proactive and trying their best to make it happen. After all who else will do it for you?

So here we are entering the last quarter of the year and we are still standing – I must admit that I had been approaching the year very cautiously and found myself marking each month down as another one survived!

Enough, Enough… We have done well but we need to stop all of this “survival” thinking,  and if we were to use a football analogy we have probably been playing a defensive, cautious match like a classic Italian soccer team!

It’s time for the manager to call the captain to the side of the pitch and whisper “You’re a talented team, take off the shackles, enjoy yourself and start playing like Brazil”

What team are you playing like?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Have you Stormed the Recession?

September 13, 2011
Perfect Storm

Navigating the Storm

At the beginning of 2009 I wrote this article for a few publications – this was written when “panic” was at a peak and we were all scrambling and desperately trying to find solid ground as the earth was crumbling under our feet:

Storming the Recession (Feb 2009)

Right now the country is gripped not only by Recession, but by Depression. The fear is absolutely tangible with everyone, as we face the storm that is raging all around us.

The money men are telling us to chase our debtors aggressively, delay our creditors as much as possible and cut back on spending.  That’s fine if we all existed in isolation of each other but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this approach will have everything grinding to a halt in a very short space of time.

Instead of this negative approach how about, rather that defence, think attack and work towards Storming the Recession?

Let’s work hard – carefully but positively; let’s deliver great service to our customers instead of just good service and let’s keep our eyes wide open to spot the unique opportunities that will present themselves in this unique climate – can we allow ourselves to keep an open mind to the many opportunities that are out there?

Your approach to Marketing Activity will be a key factor.

If you cut back on your Marketing activity where will this leave your business? What impact will it have on volume?  Will you fall behind your competitors, lose your footing in the marketplace and could it damage your business in the long term?

Also, if your competitors pull back from their activities does this present you with an opportunity?

Without a doubt business will not come as easy as it has in the recent past.  You will need to be more pro-active than before, as your competitors could well be chasing your customers more aggressively than ever before.  Can your business really afford to hide at the moment?

Accepting that the financial health of business may have changed you should re-evaluate your activities and seek better value from your Budget:

  • Advertising – Evaluate effectiveness & negotiate (never has there been a better time to bargain!)
  • Bring PR into the mix – Achieve valuable editorial
  • Promotions – Get your message out there through prize giveaways, often this can be achieved with no media cost
  • Direct Marketing – Communicate directly to your target audience
  • Customer Database – Ensure your database methods are in order so you can communicate economically and build customer loyalty through communicating information and offers
  • Cross Selling – Increase business with customers by attracting them to other services
  • Review – Make sure you are recording the results of your campaigns
  • Team Review – All your staff should fully understand your objectives
  • Web Optimisation – Ensure that your website is in order and that your prospective customers can find it easily.
  • Business Network – Increase your network of contacts proactively by joining and participating in business networks such as the Chamber

Storming the Recession is a positive strategy to deal with the current climate.

By delivering great service, operating as efficiently as possible, and by not hiding in the marketplace, you will be in a position to take advantage of the unique opportunities that will present themselves during this period and ride out this storm.

Have you stormed the recession?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

p.s. with the benefit of hindsight I would change none of the advice given except that Social Media has become huge in this time and I would add the full embracing of these free platforms this to the mix.

Never look a 70 Day FAS Gift Horse in the mouth!

August 4, 2011
Only another 50 days left!

Only another 50 days left!

Oh my God what an opportunity for the Minister for Education & Skills Ruairi Quinn T.D. and the government to take on a really straightforward issue and lay down a marker for all sorts of unnecessary excess, total extravagance and total waste.

What better way to show the Irish public that it is no longer going to put up with this rubbish and that the Irish “Gravy Train” is totally finished.

What better way to take on a ridiculously powerful union who are defenceless against something that is so blatantly wrong  and corrupt. The union officials who negotiated this 70 days retirement “acclimatisation leave” originally must have been astounded that it was agreed to – the bubbly was flowing that night!

When such a clear opportunity comes along to management to sort out something that  is so blatantly wrong they just have to grab it with both hands and display a little bit of mettle and lay down the smallest of markers. To not grab the opportunity would be a total catastrophe.

This is obviously a sad legacy from FAS that quotes of itself:

FÁS enhances the skills and competencies of individuals and enterprises in order for Ireland to further develop as a competitive, inclusive, knowledge-based economy. It strives to do this through the provision of tailored training and employment programmes that suit everyone’s needs.

(Oh my god … paper never refuses ink)

Ruairi & Co – this is easy …. accept the gift of the 70 issue and show us some mettle.. please.

It would be good for the country and for your PR!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Pessimistic, Realistic or Optimistic – Which are you?

June 6, 2011
Optimistic, Pessimistic or Realistic?

Would you sit next to this guy at a party?

My friend was killing me with his negativity, I was feeling hot, uneasy and uncomfortable.. despite really liking him and not having seen him in quite a while I just wanted to get out of there!

I guess I’ve been accused of the opposite, taking a general optimistic approach to things. For some this can come across as being uplifting and for others it could be seen as being naive and maybe they want to get away from me?

It can be difficult at times when we are surrounded by doom and gloom, bad news, tangible signs of distress and people that are really struggling with things going badly wrong for them and we all have a different way of dealing with this environment.

In the meaty discussion with my quite successful friend I found myself not wanting to be in his company any more as he was sapping the energy from me with his pessimistic view on everything. I could literally feel a cloud creep over us as we chatted.

His big argument when I challenged him about his “outlook” was that he was being realistic as opposed to being pessimistic. In his view I was being optimistic and not realistic!

Of course neither of us were wrong and we agreed to disagree and having thought about this even more I think the real secret is all about adopting a “positive” attitude – even in a pessimistic frame of mind this can be quite powerful.

Even though the environment has been terrible my friend’s business has done really well by him positively tackling the lousy climate and continually adapting, despite his pessimism!

Whatever is happening in your business you do need to get through it “yourself” and part of this is equipping yourself with the tools, attitude and general approach that works best for you.

For me I recognise that part of my own personal armour is adopting a positive approach, which at times can be quite challenging. And yes, I am optimistic about how me and our business will survive and thrive but being realistic I know this will only happen if we work our socks off and continue delivering for our clients.

My medicine?

Even when things are going wrong attack the situation with positivity, be optimistic about your future success but realistic about what you need to do to achieve it. And if the guy sitting next to you is dragging you down with his negativity, pessimism or realism then move on politely..

No one said it was going to be easy!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Aetna – Vultures?

April 16, 2011
Aetna - Castleisland, County Kerry

Healthy Attitude?

Irish Examiner today (16th April, 2011) – Vultures part 2 ..

In a statement yesterday Aetna management said that the proposals submitted by the staff “did not support their strategic objectives for the global service strategy“.

This statement was made in response to proposals submitted by employees, which included more flexible work practices and offers to work additional hours – this is all in an attempt to keep the facility open and save the 100 jobs.

I don’t know any of the background to this but I do know Aetna were more than happy with the plant as it expanded less than  3 years ago.

If you were one of their workers, surely you would deserve more than that statement after over 20 years .. Is this how we have come to look after people?

The really ironic thing is what Aetna actually do:

Aetna Global Benefits (AGB), the international division of Aetna Inc., is a provider of comprehensive health benefits solutions for multinational employers and government agencies. AGB’s offerings include medical, dental, vision, life, disability, emergency assistance and health management programmes for employees and high net worth individuals who live, work or travel internationally.

Healthy attitude I would say ..

Just two and a half years ago at the 20 years anniversary and expansion announcement (no doubt complete with mega grants)  Martha R. Temple, President of Aetna Global Benefits issue the following statement in September 2008:

The Castleisland facility has gained an excellent reputation within Aetna as having a highly skilled and productive workforce. In 2003, we chose this site as the pilot location for our Aetna Global Benefits business serving expatriates outside the U.S. The pilot has proven successful, so we are moving forward with our expansion of the facility. I am proud that we are in a position to mark our 20th anniversary in Ireland with this expansion and a clear commitment for the future.

Knowing the state of the Irish Economy and considering the length of service and apparent success of the plant everything should be done to keep this facility open.

Sad, very sad.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Debt Forgiveness or Vulture Culture?

April 16, 2011
Debt Forgiveness or Vulture Culture?

Feeding the vultures?

Reading the Irish Examiner this morning I am struck and really upset by what I am seeing ..

On the cover is a picture of the large queues at the NAMA property auction in Dublin this week – while I am sure there are some genuine people in that queue looking for a break by getting a property they can afford and get their lives moving I am more than sure that their are plenty of “vultures” swooping to pick some meat off the dead carcases of our property collapse.

Consider the steps that lead us to this point:

Step 1 – Property owner (formerly known as bank customer) can’t afford mortgage: bank turfs the loans to NAMA at a huge discount and write off the balance (request money from government to cover the loss – p.s. we have to pay for this). End of problem for Mr Bank.

Step 2 – NAMA take on advisor’s, solicitors, experts of all sorts and deal with the “property owners” at huge cost (the problem is just in another box and we pay the fees). A good friend of mine, a solicitor tells me they all know the biggest game in town is getting a gig with NAMA!

Step 3 – NAMA creatively look for solutions to sort out the property market? Nah – lets just do a fire sale and get rid of the properties for half nothing. What brains came up with that solution?

Step 4 – Chase the original property owner for the deficit (at this stage it is probably much bigger than it ever needed to be in the first place), which they will never, ever be able to clear.

Step 5 – NAMA realise that it has a bigger hole than it thought in the first place – look for money from Government as they have a shortfall (that’s us folks!)

Step 6 – Vultures queue up, avoid buying any property until they come up for sale again in another bargain basement sale. Further devaluation of property prices as a result – yep you get a bigger hole with even more people in trouble..

I know there was a huge reaction this week to talk of Debt Forgiveness (why should we pick up the tab for other people’s carelessness? is the general attitude) but if you look at the scenario above, which we have all witnessed – the original property owner could have made a sensible arrangement with the bank, managed through the current economic climate and ultimately recovered more money than what was ever possible in an auction fire sale.

Possible Result – The deficit would have been a lot less, huge savings would have been made on unnecessary professional fees and the property market would not be further compromised.

Just a month ago a pub quite close to us was closed by the bank – the “owners” could not manage the level of debt as they bought too high. Now the pub is being touted around by the bank  at prices a fraction of what the original debt was – they will never recover the deficit from the original owners and we will end up picking up the tab for the “unnecessary deficit”.

Will the new operators do a better job that the original owners? And what about all the suppliers who get burnt in the shut down scenario?

Debt forgiveness is emotive and really difficult to manage (fire sale is too easy, less messy, inhumane and lousy for the economy = our country) but it must be better than pure stupidity, which we will all end up paying for. It’s time to work hard at brave, practical solutions that have the best interest of the county at heart..

….and besides, why do we need to feed the Vultures?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Have a Positively Fabulous Easter!

April 14, 2011
Retail tips for Easter

Positivity? - Why Not !!

Budgets, bad weather, IMF bailouts, things are tough, sales are bad, wages are down, burn the bond holders, senior bond holders, junior bond holders, any bond holders – Oh my God, my head is bursting ! Enough is enough ..

In business all the marketers will tell you about the importance of having a Unique Selling Point, a USP. It is that element that is unique that makes your business special and makes you different to your competitors. In a busy marketplace that can be hard to achieve. In the current climate it can be even more difficult as everyone is afraid of mistakes so we end up playing it very safe, even boring at times.

Now go back to my first paragraph, read it again and then read further on and let’s discover a really simple way to make your business stand out this Easter.

Here goes..

This Easter draw a secret line around your business and make it a haven for all those who enter or deal with over the phone or on email – you are going to give them a gift, something that is quite unique, something that are not getting in most other places. When anyone crosses that secret line they are going to experience nothing but positivity – yep, that’s right simple positivity.

That’s all well and good but how do we do it? – Here is my 10 step plan!

1.       Yourself – You start! ( “Good morning, Greg”)

2.       Your Team – Tell them that negative talk is banned, you want them cheery and bright with customers – watch what happens (have a negative jar instead of a swear jar!)

3.       Bright – You want to see bright merchandise in the windows, bright visuals on your website, bright stock in the stock list, bright clothes on the staff. Buy flowers!

4.       Sales – Increase your sales targets. We all know it’s not easy but tell the team you are budgeting for an increase (let everyone else do the opposite, prepare for the negative it and it will definitely happen)

5.       How to? – Ok, while you are positive you are also realistic. You want positive plans from your team as to how the sales targets will be achieved

6.       Bonus – Promise bonuses for those who succeed, win/win if you make it

7.       What to do with that bonus? – Get everyone in the team to write on a piece of paper what they will do with their bonus (put their private responses in an envelope with their name on it – keep it for them)

8.       Drinks/dinner/chocolates/coffee – When the sales plans are done and the bonuses are decided on do something as a team. Bring chocolates or buns into work.

9.       Customers – treat them really nice, offer them coffee, offer them biscuits. Tell them about the secret line if you have to – they will think you are nuts but they will appreciate it

10.   The World – little enough that you can do about the other stuff, keep it outside the line!

Sorry I have one more tip – why stop at Easter?

Happy Easter!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

“Sorry, there’s nothing I can do”

April 4, 2011
Time for change

"Ok - what can we do here to sort this out?"

Sorry there’s nothing I can do” – Revenue Official

Sorry there’s nothing I can do” – Bank Official

Sorry there’s nothing I can do” – NÀMA Official

 

Sorry there’s nothing I can do” – Mr Landlord

Sorry there’s nothing I can do” .. If we said that we would have no clients

We talk about flexibility, innovative solutions, making things happen, having a pro jobs agenda – some of us need to change our language.

What’s the problem? – Lets find a solution that’s best for everyone” – Mr Make It Happen

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Candidates – Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael (Cork South Central)

February 21, 2011
Deirdre Clune - Fine Gael

Impressive Deirdre - no generic flyer here!

As part of the election process I am going to do a “Ronseal” (what does their tin say about them) review of the political candidates literature that comes in through our letterbox and score them accordingly!!

Candidate: Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael (Cork South Central)

Deirdre was quite progressive in getting her literature to me to review – well done !

Design and Layout (5)
I must admit I wouldn’t be blown away by the design and layout of the literature but to be fair it is comprehensive and allows plenty of space to build the arguments and convince the reader of Deirdre’s merits – score 4

Photo (10)
The main photo of Deirdre is ok – she is wearing a light coloured smart business style jacket (against the standard Fine Gael “sky” background!) but she looks quite stern in the picture. The inside picture is much more relaxed and shows a warmer person – I have never met Deirdre so I have no idea what she is like. I like the person on the inside much more – score 7.5

Contact Details (5)
In terms of the contact details the full deal is here except .. a land line instead of a mobile number, which seems to be standard practice for all the other candidates. Deirdre has listed her website, her email address as well as her Facebook and twitter pages listed .. ok, in that respect Deirdre is very progressive allowing everyone an opportunity to really find out more about her, what she is like and what she is up to – score 5

Background (10)
Deirdre tells us about her background (she is obviously quite intelligent and very qualified), her education and profession, her family life and what she has been doing in the political arena – the flyer lists her different political posts but I am disappointed she has not listed her achievements during the course of this work – score 8

Sales Pitch (10)
The sales pitch in the flyer is quite strong – it covers the Fine Gael big items, it covers local issues that Deirdre wants to address and it also builds convincing arguments and a sense of a Fine Gael “team” – there is a good balance between Deirdre and the party message – score 8

Big Picture (10)
The big picture arguments are well made without over-promising, I liked the Fine Gael “business team” profile, which is reassuring and I just hope that these specific promises can be delivered on – score 9

Overall Score
This is not a generic Fine Gael flyer, which I love. Deirdre has put together her own literature and builds a strong argument unlike many of the other Fine Gael candidates. It shows how much you respect your voters – Well done Deirdre!! – overall score 41.5 out of 50.

Best of luck in the elections Deirdre I suspect you will do well ..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Have you met your “Other Self”?

February 15, 2011
Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

Napoleon Hill – Inspirational!

I came across this powerful extract in Napoleon Hill’s inspirational book, “Think and Grow Rich” published in 1937, and written with a backdrop of the Great Depression.

You have been disappointed, you have undergone defeat during the depression, you have felt the great heart within you crushed until it bled. Take courage, for those experiences have tempered the spiritual metal of which you are made – they are assets of incomparable value.

Remember, too, that all who succeed in life get off to a bad start, and pass through many heartbreaking struggles before they “arrive”. The turning point in the lives of those who succeed, usually comes at the moment of some crisis, through which they are introduced to their “other selves”.”

Have you met your “other self”?

I know it is a terrible time for so many people but I would really urge them to dig deep (or even deeper as the case may be), try to look for the positives or the “unique” opportunities and eventually you will find a new and possible very rewarding and fulfilling path.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications