Last November, my 2009 annual business plan was due in to Ty Bobit. I pulled up my chair and stared at a blank screen, and my mind was spinning. The world had gone crazy.
The stock markets were frantic, a bedraggled President was on his way out, and our touchstones, our Blue Chips, our Fortune 500 companies, including the largest automaker in the world, were imploding. And my boss wanted me to give him an industry forecast and strategic plan for the coming year? This was not a new request. I have been at this job 19 years, but for the first time, I was at a complete and utter loss on what to type into my computer.
Needless to say I missed my deadline. I did however FINALLY emerge with a game plan that began with repositioning LCT to include the entire tour and charter industry. So we are looking ahead to very exciting times. I could not, however, react fast enough, and new plans take time to show up on P&Ls, so for six months now we have operated at a loss.
This economic collapse was akin to being on a boat in a Perfect Storm in that my “strategic plan” was aimed not at getting to the shore but at dealing with the 30- foot swell right before my eyes. Every day for months my focus primarily was on keeping my boat from capsizing. Although I can only barely see the shoreline in the distance, I now have my eye on it again. I have finally regained control of my ship and slowly but surely we are getting closer to the Promised Land. The operators I talk to daily concur.
The lesson I share with you is to avoid spending all your time on the day-to-day survival mentality. It’s still critical that we close shop at the end of the day or week and consider the big picture for our companies. If you have cut all there is to cut, and are still not making ends meet, you need to find new revenue streams like I did. You need to build sales. There are still many areas where people need transportation. A good friend of mine is going in for seizure surgery and cannot drive for six months. She is a single mom with a huge trust fund. Monica called looking for a driver to work for the balance of the year to take her on errands and drive her 11- year old son places. I referred her to a limo company locally. They are thrilled. And the medical field is only one idea.
This once-a-year publication is a business tool for you. The Fact Book was developed to help operators better understand the scope of our industry so that you could improve your next year’s business plan. It helps you to see where the trends are happening so there is less guesswork, which means fewer mistakes on the business front. The Fact Book has a verified listing of every viable network, supplier, and association to help you get to the source easier for referencing information.
Whether you have been around as long as this publication or are new to the industry, our Fact Book is the go-to guide for answers, and of course our staff is avialable for any further questions. We hope that you do in fact plug this information into your sales and marketing strategy for the balance of 2009 and beyond. And we encourage you to share these reports with your entire company.