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Prepping for the rebound

If you’re about to take a long journey for your vacation or are just planning a week on the beach, may we suggest some informative reading material? There’s loads of fascinating content in the new issue of Inc magazine, with a number of How To… guides, including tips on starting a restaurant, a T-shirt company and even a franchise.

Of particular interest to us though was a well-researched article about preparing for the upturn. Journalist Nadine Heintz charts the story of Boston laundry company Garment Valet. With 1,900 customers and almost a million dollars per annum in sales, the company was planning to roll out a national franchise network. But then the economy tanked, the credit markets went fallow and their bank looked like it might go under. Founder Dominic Coryell faced a conundrum: speed up or slow down?

"Other people were going to be slowing down and trying to just hold on," Coryell told Inc. "I am a big advocate of living on the edge."

Rather than simply lying low and trying to weather the recession, Coryell has invested $50k in  “proprietary Web software” that will allow customers to “place and track orders online” once the company begins to franchise. So while their dream to open a national cleaning and laundry franchise has been delayed, Garment Valet will only be better prepared for franchising success because of the downturn.

That is a lesson that many businesses out there should take on board.

Inc also passes on six tips for preparing for the upturn and we think they’re worth passing on:

Invest in technology: Technological improvements -- new billing software, for example, or an online ordering system -- will allow you to add new customers with little additional cost when business picks up.

Snap up talent on the cheap:  Because of record layoffs, the job market is flooded with qualified applicants. Take this opportunity to hire talented employees at a discount.

Ramp up training: Identify employees' strengths and weaknesses and invest in targeted training and development programs to prepare them for the upswing.

Form strategic partnerships: Make the most of the business slowdown by striking up partnerships that will pay off down the road. Get to know prospective customers: Build relationships with potential customers and learn more about their needs, then tailor your offerings accordingly to position your company for the future.

Cut costs strategically: Instead of making across-the-board cuts, analyze costs carefully and reduce spending in ways that are unlikely to impair future growth. Be sure to put controls in place so spending stays in check after the rebound.

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