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        by Jeff Singer
        If your business had to shut down or significantly scale back these last few months, I know you want to reopen. I know you want to get out of your house and back in the field. But can you? Are you really ready to reopen?
        Most companies are not able to roll trucks immediately and start invoicing customers when restrictions are lifted. Manufacturing and distribution worldwide stopped for weeks. Ramping up again and feeding the supply chain will take time. In the meantime, loading docks, vans, and bank accounts sit empty.
        However, there are some steps you can take now, to shorten that gap between lockdown ending and cash flow restarting.

        1.  Use this time at home to stay engaged or re-engage with your existing customers. You appreciated it when your vendors checked on you; your customers will appreciate hearing from you too. As you know, but sometimes forget, relationships are key to success in every way. The most profitable path to growing or maintaining any business is to increase customer share, rather than marketing share. It takes much less effort to convince a satisfied customer with whom you already have built trust to buy from you than it does to find a new customer.

        2.  Leverage your relationships with existing customers to propose upgrades. Keep it simple. Identify the solutions you can provide in the near term that may provide added value. The Crestron HomeTime™ solution for remote working, teaching, learning, and socializing is a perfect example. Not every project needs to be a home run. It may be quicker and easier at first to get a flurry of small jobs to infuse your business with capital and jumpstart the cash flow.

        3.  Contact vendors and identify those who may have inventory and are willing to work with you on payment terms. Many of your projects were put on hold, but not cancelled. Try to take delivery and stock products you will need to fulfill those orders now. Just like the rush on toilet paper and hand sanitizer, you don’t want to be waiting at the back of the line for limited quantities of product. It only takes one component to delay manufacturing or one product to delay installation (and payment).

        4.  Start by focusing on quick and easy projects that do not require sophisticated custom programming and design. I’m not saying to turn down a big job, but you don’t want to get bogged down on one project. You also want to make sure you can finish what you start. Big jobs require several vendors, lots of hardware, and custom work. Remember, any one thing can stop you in your tracks and delay payment. You want money now? Finish quickly.

        5.  Do as much prep work as possible in advance. There are convenient easy-to-use web-based tools for pre-configuration and ordering. Use any online or phone support you can for any technical questions or system design help. Build racks. Test software.

        So, now that you know, what are you waiting for? Stop reading and get started.

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