It will never happen to us!

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June 9, 2016- ISSN# 1545-2646




It will never happen to us!

Some days I wish I would have recorded the number of times business owners say those exact words – Why should we plan for that – “It will never happen to us!”

Over the past 25+ years, when working with clients, we inevitably get to a session when I start asking difficult questions about some aspect of their business plan, strategy, operations etc. On many occasions the business owner or group of leaders will turn up their noses and smirk off the question as if I was asking some completely irrelevant question about their business or capabilities. For those of you who have worked with me you know that just does not make the question go away.  To some degree it narrows the focus to discussion on why they have such an attitude about the question(s) asked.  This in and of itself opens up a whole bunch of items which might need to be addressed, but more importantly is the level of avoidance this or that questions spurred on.

Many times the level of avoidance is based on their perception of how good they think themselves to be in comparison to their competition.  They don’t want to give their competition any possible position in their own mind to overtake them let alone in their client’s mind.  This level of avoidance can lead to catastrophic conditions later on in the life of the business.  Let us consider a real life example where the details have been modified just enough to keep the company and leadership team hidden behind their business façade.

A leading business which had grown from a couple million dollars to a little under 20 million over about a 30 year timeframe.  Family run and in second generation of existence.  50% of the revenue was primarily small to medium sized businesses and municipalities.  They had one significant account which attributed to almost 50% of their total revenues.  This account dated back to the founder of the business and both businesses had grown up together.  It was a great relationship which both had mutually benefited from.  During a strategy session I asked the required question of planning for the day you lose that account.  After I was almost dismissed from the meeting and terminated from the project, level heads prevailed and discussion ensued.  The process was like pulling teeth from wild animals. Every aspect was met with significant resistance and ten reasons why it would NEVER HAPPEN!

I won’t go further into the details but let’s just say that eventually they had mapped out a strategy to address this catastrophic situation to included resource cuts, location closures, wage reductions etc. The owner of the business then took me to lunch and with his rather cynical attitude told me that it was a complete waste of his company’s money to complete the exercise but he did so because he felt his management team could use it to bond.  He filed away the document but he never threw it in the trash.

Fast forward about 3 years and early one morning I received a call from the owner. He wanted me to know that the plan they put together was actually going to be put into play because they just received word that the account which would NEVER leave just cut the relationship off without warning.

I’m pleased to say that not only did they survive but ultimately helped them make some additional management decisions which they were emotionally not capable of doing (letting some old time staff go).  The business righted itself after about 12 months of instability and was then perpetuated and the business owner retired.

This week I challenge you to look the evil of “It will never happen to us” right in the eye and as much as you don’t have time or passion to plan for – do it! Change happens not always on your clock but on the clock of your customers.

Need someone to navigate you through the uncharted waters of a plan for catastrophe?  Give JKL Associates a call at (313) 527-7945 so we can help you understand your options.

Questions or comments – email us at or call our Office at (313) 527-7945

Copyright – JKL Associates 2016

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JKL Associates
18530 Mack Ave #242
Grosse Pointe Farms MI 48236

Main (313) 527-7945
Fax   (313) 731-0626

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