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Robust Business in Zero Visibilty Times

Updated on October 13, 2011

Making Your Business Robust in Zero Visiblity Times

Robust is a business term that describes a healthy business that easily assimilates changing environments while continually producing a high quality product or service.

A robust business adapts to downturns in the economy.

This adaptation may include a price reduction or simply holding the price down. It may also include an adaptation of the tastes and needs of the customer to include a more in demand product. A more in demand product now would include basic ‘needs’ products over high-end ‘wants’ products.

Customers still want to eat out for their pleasure but modify their want to include a less pricey dining venue. Chili’s, a middle market restaurant, is offering a two for $20 special where the customer is invited to enjoy an appetizer with two meals for the total of only $20.00. Denny’s continually updates their menu to include popular foods (Mexican is very popular now) and also offers low cost specials.

This is not like a restaurant that sees a business decrease and chooses to close evenings or keep irregular hours. These maneuvers will loose more customers! This restaurant very soon realized the folly of this and re-opened for evening business! Another example of is the local ice cream shop that closed on Saturday night! That shop is now closed and looking for someone to purchase it, any wonder there?

In the same vein of thought many stores such as Home Depot are realizing a market that is more apt to improve their home than purchase a new home. However, for those who do have their home on the market, they must provide a home product that is in excellent condition. This means they are also shopping for home improvement merchandise at Home Depot. Again, this is very nice for a home improvement store.

A robust business will look to the future and implement computer hardware and software that both increases productivity while decreasing overall costs. When requesting bids for the newest hardware or software, a busineess needs to include a full investigation of return on investment (ROI) specifications prior to or in the bidding process. How will this software save money or time or improve service while not increasing costs for the long term? Of course, the up-front costs need to be born by the company but will be amortized out over the length of time the hardware or software will be in use.

A robust business will also understand that the top three most important factors for any business is location, location, location. While it may seem costly to pick-up and move a business, it is more costly to remain in a poor location. The good news here is that landlords are sitting on vacancies that they desperately want to fill. The prospective tenant has a great advantage now.

The tenant can broker a deal with lower rent and caps on common area costs plus make demands on remodeling dollars from the landlord. These will ease the pain of re-location.

A robust business might also franchise their business now. A franchise is an excellent methodology of growing your business. The business owner must pay to set-up the franchise framework but the franchisee is the one who pays to build and outfit the business. The franchisee also pays the franchisor for the successful business model and systems.

There are people who are concerned about loosing their jobs that would love to have the security of owning their own business. Franchise businesses have a very high percentage of succeeding and thriving unlike new untried businesses that have a high percentage of failure.

So, a robust business is in a superior position to grow using the franchise methodology now.

Still, what can a business do to remain or become robust?

  • Benchmark yourself against the most successful businesses in your industry. (Compare to, learn from, and imitate them)
  • Visit those businesses and ASK questions of the owners, managers, employees
  • Do what Appleby’s did and copy the Chili’s “two for $20” concept
  • Hold a think-tank with your best employees and yes, customers. Ask them what they like and don’t like! (Hint: at a think tank, all opinions are accepted and no one is ever made to feel uncomfortable for their ideas!)
  • Guerrilla Marketing may be for you, if you think you have a great business but you just can’t get the word out? (see the link below)

Robust businesses are run by people who get out of their offices and places of business. Practice MBWA; manage by wondering around, from Tom Peter’s Excellence book. Implement what you learn while you wonder around. If it doesn't work, well just stop doing it and try something else! Keep trying!

Make your business a robust business!


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    • patrick489 profile image

      patrick489 6 years ago

      Being robust is an issue that i have seen first hand at my job. As a recruiter for a major company in Albuquerque i have seen how a lack of robustness negatively affects my company as well as potential recruits. At my company, a lack of willingness to transition into a more technologically friendly business model has led to a loss in potential recruits that may be attracted to technologically advanced companies. As far as recruits go, recruits simply are looking for jobs, as opposed to looking for careers more geared towards their background or interest.

    • Frank Lucero profile image

      Frank Lucero 6 years ago

      I live in Albuquerque, NM and the city is surrounded by casinos. After, visiting the casinos, I was thinking how they have to be robust to stay competitive in the market of gaming. The casinos are use amenities, like the the buffets, to practice the need of the consumer, much like the example of Chili as stated above. For Example the surf and turf, all you can eat buffet at the Sandia Resort Casino, offers any kind of seafood with the crab lags as a favorite for under twenty dollars person show how the casino caters to what the customer wants.I am sure that the casino losses money with the buffet, however, it focuses on the core competency which is the gaming.

    • profile image

      Coopis 6 years ago

      Jordan Cooper Op. 300-001

      How not to make your business more robust: Japanese corporations in the 90's. After decades of continuous growth, bloated with profits from excelling at core competencies/business, many Japanese corporations decided to become more robust by branching out into other sectors. In the late 80's to early 90's Japanese corporations bought everything from insurance companies in Europe to textile companies in India. The idea was branching out like this can make your business more robust to market fluctuations, just as you would diversify an investment portfolio.

      It failed because Japanese corporations did not know how to run these new businesses. Car companies did not have the experience or knowledge to appropriately run an insurance business. The mismanagement and failure helped to cause the financial crisis Japane experienced in the mid-late 90's

      This example shows that while being robust is important, you cant fail as a business to overlook your core competencies. Remembering what your good at, and why you are good at it extremely important in deciding how to become more robust.

    • Varissa profile image

      Varissa 6 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

      Being "robust" will allow your company to change with the times. Especially with the up and down economy in the recent years, its important to be robust.

      "This is not like a restaurant that sees a business decrease and chooses to close evenings or keep irregular hours. " This reminds me of a business I recently worked for. They saw that business was declining so they decided to open another kiosk along with the slow one. They were hoping that the new kiosk would attract customers and bring more business. Unfortunately it back-fired and the kiosk couldn't even pay for itself at the end of the month. Its smart to step back and look at the big picture and see what will really benefit your business instead of jumping the gun.

    • profile image

      aallbrit 6 years ago

      Like the article says, being robust will allow your company to adapt and be flexible with a changing economy. Of the examples listed, I think that Home Depot did the best job adapting to the downturn of the economy. They saw that people were more interested in fixing up their current home rather then buying a new one so they started offering more do-it-yourself classes to assist people in that market. They started looking for brands that were geared towards women becasue they started to become a larger population of do-it-yourselfers. That is a great example of keeping up with the times and being robust.

    • profile image

      oldani 6 years ago

      I agree with the idea of trying to keep a company robust in order to stay successful. I know that Netflix pretty much did the opposite of adapting to the downturn of the economy. They were seeing their subscriptions drop as the Redbox movies became more popular so in turn they upped their prices and decreased the services that you would get depending on the price you paid monthly. In addition to raising their pricing, they did not inform customers of this change. I had a subscription to Netflix and when I checked my bank account, I noticed a $10 increase in my bill so I cancelled my subscription. So many other customers were unhappy with the change that they also cancelled their subscription. Netflix ended up losing even more money because they did not adapt to the changes in the economy effectively.

    • Nkeller profile image

      Nkeller 6 years ago

      I agree with this adaption. You see many companies bringing new ideas to keep with the times.I frequently use the 2 for twenty meal at Chile's and rarely order off of it. It's interesting the Ice cream shop closing on Saturdays because I think of businesses that close on Sundays for religious reason like Chick-fil-a and Hobby Lobby, and wonder how it effects their business. I wonder if it would help their business to be open on Sundays. It would bring in more revenue.

      Many companies are changing with the times.

    • Aaron Major profile image

      Aaron Major 6 years ago

      It is so true that the business that can not adapt to their current market will eventually fail. The ice cream shop that wasnt open on Saturdays is the perfect example. Of course that it just a small example but the owner would probably never know people wanted ice cream on Saturday night because he was probably never there. MBWA is probably one of the most important things to do when businesses are just starting and even on a consistent basis afterward.

    • profile image

      dsanch18 6 years ago

      So often these days, we're seeing businesses fail because they cannot adapt, they are not robust, they do not put themselves in a position to succeed. When this happens, many companies will look to cutting costs by doing things like laying off their employees. This is especially true with the latest economic crisis.

      At the same time, it's also times like these where we get to see some businesses flourish despite the hardships, because they found a creative solution to their problem, such as Chili's and Applebee's 2 for $20 deal that attracts a lot of customers. Sometimes bold moves pay off.

    • profile image

      katie-donnelly 6 years ago

      I find it interesting this article mentioned Home Depot. During a recession, car parts and mechanics do better because people need to work on their cars far more than buying a new one. This article relates this same idea to homes-but I don't think that homes translate into this idea at all. Homes are a longer commitment than cars, and when money is tight, I doubt people will spend what they have to fix their homes when they could down the line when we're out of the recession. Furthermore, not many people are trying to sell homes in this market-unless they need to move/plan to buy at a cheap or cheaper price for the next. This is not the market for selling homes-so not much of a market for improvement to sell homes.

    • profile image

      tele r6 life 6 years ago

      I think the recession has really put into perspective how important it is for a business to be robust. These past few years have really been a make-or-break time for many companies. I have a very optimistic personality and I always believe in making the most out of every situation. I like the idea of the business like Chile's or Home Depot taking advantage of the harder economic times. A good business isn't one that can only do well when the sun is shining, it is a business that can take an unexpected rainy day and find a way to start selling umbrellas.

    • profile image

      schillz33 6 years ago

      Coming from Los Alamos, the part about businesses closing early and reducing hours to reduce costs really hit home. So many businesses in Los Alamos cut hours or reduce the number of employees on shift to try to stay in business, but as a customer I know that it hurts their business because I don't trust that any business will be open. I also know that if I eat in Los Alamos that I will get awful service from waiters or bartenders because there will only be one person working at the establishment and they are likely to be new and poorly trained because employee turnover is high. I end up taking all of my business to Santa Fe or Albuquerque, which hurts not only the businesses that annoy me, but also the good businesses in Los Alamos.

    • profile image

      rj-romo 6 years ago

      I would have to say since we are well into the holiday season business are more than likely finding it easier to draw in customers than ever before. Family is coming in to town, shopping is on the rise, sales are coming up every day, advertisements are on the tv all day every day. Its amazing how much advertising really plays a massive role in robust businesses. Everywhere you look from restaurants to department stores and even small businesses are doing something to capitalizing on this holiday season. Maybe I never really payed attention to it until taking this course but I cant go very far without seeing some sort of advertisement or product placement that makes me realize how hard businesses are having to try to grow and increase sales in their business this season.

    • profile image

      lilyperez 6 years ago

      Another thing that keeps a business, specifically a restuarant, robust in this economy is to not discount. At my work, which is a franchise with local ownership, we have never discounted meals by giving coupons or lowering the price. Many other owners in the franchise did. Sometimes guests would get upset with our managers for not accepting a coupon from Arizona but I think it is better not to. Discounting goods says "my goods are not worth what I was charging you." However, one way we "help" our guests during hard times is by raising prices only when we can no longer afford not to and by not raising prices for the holidays. To date we have not raised Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve prices in 3 years.

    • profile image

      wwhite02 6 years ago

      I am employee at a country club here in Albuquerque. I believe that this business has failed at becoming robust. Yes, it has its perks and a new general manager has just stepped into place. With that being said the company has a lot of room to become "robust" and the new gm is taking steps in doing that. First, this club brings in members, so the same people come in a lot. Complaints about the menu always come up and nothing is being done, but within the last week a new menu is being produced. Listening to the customer is huge in this business and I believe being a robust company is a huge factor that needs to come into play with all companies.

      A lot of restuarants are doing the 2 for 20 deal and this is a great way to bring in customers and revenue. This is very smart idea!

    • profile image

      asipe02 6 years ago

      The most important thing is location, location, location. But I think a lot of business get caught up in the total costs of opening and want to cut costs where they can and some mistakingly cut the costs on their location, which in the end will be the downfall of their business.

    • profile image

      Kileen 6 years ago

      This article was helpful to me in defining more "robust" more specifically. In the assignment it was noted that I had not detailed this well about my selected business.

      I didn't realize that MBWA was an actual term until this class! My previous manager - the best I've ever had - would walk around and talk with employees; chatting about both work and personal life, He would run ideas by everyone and took our opinions seriously. I once told him how great it was for morale and feeling included. He told me it was "Management By Walking Around" - I thought it was his own phrase!

    • craybu profile image

      craybu 6 years ago

      I think that there is one thing that we can do to not only make our businesses become more robust and share the wealth to others buy purchasing local. I think that skipping the large chains and corporations and sticking to the local small businesses and restaurants we are helping our friends and neighbors business become more robust. I am going to name drop for some of my favorite restaurants that are around $25 for three people and local Taaj Palace in the NE heights and Sala Thai near UNM. Other things consumers can do is look for fresh food too, The Growers' Market is your source for locally grown produce and locally made crafts. All produce is picked within 24 hours of being available at the Growers' Market. The Uptown Growers' Market accepts WIC, Senior Checks, EBT and Debit.

      To become robust in our own business seems like its a multifaceted approach understanding what is working and what compromises are needed internally and externally to get that done.

    • amata01 profile image

      amata01 6 years ago from New Mexico

      I know Applebee's does do the two for $20 and it is very beneficial not only to the customer but for the business as well. The business doesn't lose the costumer due to the economic struggle they might be faced with and the customer still gets to enjoy a delicious meal. Businesses must be able to adopt to adopt quickly to change and to customers expectations. Like that ice cream shop that closed on Saturday nights, they probably lost a lot of customers because of that. Families go out together on weekends and in that aspect, that business failed to be robust.

    • Tiffany Rawls profile image

      Tiffany Rawls 6 years ago

      So many businesses are doing and trying different tactics to get people through the door. I feel like I am getting more coupons for restaurants. Usually you do see the Chili’s and Applebee’s scenario of one company following the other to find out what works. Texas Land and Cattle also has a similar deal. Businesses are trying to adapt as quick as possible to get more people to buy their product. Some businesses are not doing as well as others because the business is not changing but that is a risk the business owner has to take.