Survival strategies of the German SME sector
Re-Starts, Re-Openings, Re-Covery-Campaings. When opening daily newspapers, business magazines and LinkedIn, a “re-” now appears in front of almost every word.
With weeks of complete lockdown behind us, the economy and society are now cautiously ramping up again. But did the total standstill in the SME sector even exist? A time when medium-sized entrepreneurs could do nothing? “Entrepreneur comes from enterprise” says Satellite Office CEO Anita Gödiker. “I am firmly convinced that even those entrepreneurs who had to close their businesses at short notice have been working on strategies and new ideas in the background to weather the crisis. Perhaps even more than ever before.” DZ Bank board member Uwe Berghaus also confirmed in an interview with Handelsblatt, “SMEs are showing signs of fighting and looking for alternative solutions to secure sales.”
Standstill in the midmarket?
The development bank KfW recently reported that small and medium-sized companies lost an average of about 50% of their revenues in March. According to the results of a survey conducted by DZ-Bank in April, one in five companies has applied for development loans, and more than half of the companies have put employees on short-time work. But only just under one in ten SMEs is cutting jobs. Nevertheless, according to the DZ Bank economists, many companies will have to rely on state support to avoid having to file for insolvency due to the economic downturn. The survey shows that companies in the metal, mechanical engineering, automotive and service industries are particularly concerned. There are bright spots in the construction industry, and things are also still looking relatively good in the chemical, pharmaceutical and plastics industries. However, the study concludes that the Corona pandemic is hitting SMEs like no other crisis before.
Recognize impressions and tendencies and translate them into survival strategy
“The situation is serious but not hopeless” said Anita Gödiker. “Since it affects all companies, there is only one thing we can do: roll up our sleeves, sharpen our senses, translate impressions and trends into the company’s survival strategy on a daily basis and implement them quickly. “That’s how the entrepreneur implemented it herself from the first day of the crisis and so far – without having to put her employees on short-time work – has come through the difficult weeks quite well. “I could be gripped by despair when I walk through the empty workspaces in Düsseldorf, Berlin and Frankfurt,” the entrepreneur said in an interview with Handelsblatt in April. She immediately launched a customer survey to find out directly from her workspace customers where the shoe pinches. “What do we have to do to get you back quickly?” was the question. More than a third said that hygiene measures were important for a quick return. After the hygiene in the workspaces was already increased by a manifold at the very beginning of the crisis, the entrepreneur tackled it directly: We were one of the first companies in Germany to immediately implement the Berlin model, namely that everyone who is in our rooms must register and sign a list. The reception areas in all workspaces were equipped with protective glass walls virtually overnight. Also, even greater distances between desks and seating groups were set up everywhere. By asking all customers to wear a mask in the aisles and common areas of the centers, the entrepreneur initially polarized strongly and had to face some serious discussions. But – typical Anita Gödiker – in the end she was able to persuade everyone with charm and persuasiveness to meticulously adhere to the wearing of the masks. “The lockdown was comparatively easy in that respect. In an empty center, no one can catch anything. Now it’s up to all of us to implement and comply with the government-imposed hygiene rules,” appealed Anita Gödiker. Overall, proximity and constant exchange with the tenants of the workspaces was and is the core of their survival strategy. Almost daily newsletters, BLOGs, social media posts and personal emails invite direct exchange.
Intensive customer contacts are among the TOP 4 survival strategies
This is also the survey result of the platform “Lobby of the Center”. Respondents identified “active customer contact with telephone, video calls, web communications and online offerings” as an important criterion for overcoming the crisis. In addition, SMEs in this survey indicated that developing innovations that are appropriate to the situation, as well as reducing costs and short-time work, are among the most important survival strategies.
For SMEs as a whole, the respondents from “Lobby der Mitte” saw three strategic priorities:
1. sustainability in the sense of regionality, circular thinking and environmental technology.
2. courage to change
3. develop new products and services innovatively and creatively.
Conclusion of the “Lobby of the Middle” survey: “Most people are moderately well off”.
“Most are doing moderately well“
How are you, dear BLOG readers? What are you doing in your company to defy the crisis? Do you re-cover? Are you relaunching or just reopening your business? We look forward to any contributions from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.