Does this sound like something you have heard before or in fact heard year after year? “XYZ Company announces the following personnel cuts due to the soft economy, increased competitive pressure or a decline in sales.”
This author has spoken to this subject a number of times. Earlier today I was speaking to a friend that sits one level away from his CEO. During the discussion he said, “I am so tired of hearing companies announce headcount reduction as their strategy for improving company results. What ever happened to creativity? A lot of times, the best ideas work their way up through an organization and result in a high level executive getting credit for a lower level individuals creative thinking. In fact, it happens all of the time. Headcount reduction creates a long term negative impact on companies as they lose these creative thinkers to a headcount reduction strategy. I sometimes think there must be an MBA course titled; “How to announce head count reduction as your strategy for tough economic times or poor results 101”.
The reality is if we want to put a creative procurement spin on this COGS or Cost of Goods Sold has not dropped dramatically if at all in any retail segment during the last ten years. It is the largest line item on any Retailers P&L including payroll and benefits which are expense items. There are also a number of expense items that are not included in COGS that could be addressed and have a resulting impact on results almost immediately beyond payroll reduction.
In three recent posts Bankruptcy Sucks Part I, Part II and Part III, I discussed the financial impact of just assigning a reasonably small percentage of cost of goods to e-negotiation tools in order to compress pricing. And yes the fact is there may be switching related costs associated with this. What is more difficult, laying off 10% of your work force or switching suppliers?
Business is not same old same old. Successful enterprises require creative thinkers that evolve the business on an almost daily basis. If the first place you review during these economic times is your payroll or benefits costs as an opportunity to turn things around, there are better alternatives.
We look forward to and appreciate your comments.