In the Toughest of Times, 5 Survival Strategies

July 20, 2020

My business partners and I have been asked one question more than 100 times over the past five months: “Aren’t you glad you sold your business in 2017?” The answer is obvious, but at the same time, because we operated in “survival mode” on many occasions, I understand the suffering that many operators are experiencing today. While I can share your pain, I will also share the steps we took to survive and ultimately flourish.

Admittedly, nothing compares with the impact of Covid-19, but these five survival strategies still apply.

Survival Strategy #1 – Accept the condition as temporary

A recent article in INC. Magazine talked about the importance of accepting the current condition as temporary, allowing you to look to the future and better times ahead.

Originally published in Quora, these comments from the author have special relevance today.

“Your good times are temporary and your bad times are temporary. So when you're up, enjoy it, bask in it, and be grateful for it. And when you're down, know you will get through it. Know that it's not the end, and that it's just a rough patch. Life is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and surprises. We forget that it's about the journey, not the destination.”

Survival Strategy #2 – Find money, beyond your banker

Interest rates are about as low as they can get. What do you do when you are out of traditional lending options?

Do a little financial networking. Talk to your banker, wealth manager, CPA, real estate broker, insurance agent and local stockbroker. Assuming that you have a strong relationship with them, that they know you well and believe in you, ask them if they know anyone who would be interested in making a loan at an interest rate that is better than any bank could offer. Chances are, they either know someone who can help or will be interested in the opportunity themselves.

It worked for my company on many occasions. Paying a little more interest for a quick and easy loan is well worth it for a cash starved company. When you pay the loan back, the private lender will be anxious to write another check.

Survival Strategy #3 – Continue to support clients in need

There are plenty of office managers and facility managers that are looking for work. As an OCS operator, you often hear about job vacancies. For building strong and loyal relationships, nothing is better than helping a former client secure a job interview.

Judson Kleinman, CEO of Corporate Essentials, has been a master of client relationship development for years. For him, the benefits of such kindness go beyond business.

“I believe strongly that business is definitely about caring and relationships. I am always willing to support others with time, advice and in any other ways. I find it deeply gratifying,” he said.

Helping your clients makes good sense. After this temporary business condition ends, the ex-clients you helped will remember.

Survival Strategy #4 – Keep pursuing new business

Never stop selling. In fact, this is the time to pursue new accounts that are being underserved by their current supplier, or better yet, the accounts that are trying to maintain a “do it yourself” refreshment program.

Linda Saldana of Seventh Wave Refreshments said she struggled with the idea of selling during the pandemic, but prospects were in need and she responded.

“We aren’t selling coffee and snacks anymore. We are selling solutions that are either going to help businesses open back up or strengthen the ones that are open — through touchless solutions, creative scheduling and collaboration with our customers,” said Saldana.

Survival Strategy #5 – Keep on giving back

Never stop helping your local community. People are hungry and in need. Our generosity as a company always seemed to come back to us many times over.

Five Star Food Service is known for their community support. C. J Recher, VP of Operations, believes that charitable giving is critically important right now.

“The public (our customers) are watching our actions more closely than ever. Borrowing a bit from Jon Gordon, but it’s so true: The character of a company (and individual) that is shown during difficult times (drought) is what most will remember when times are good (harvest),” said Recher.

Prioritizing the survival strategies

For your mental well-being, Strategy #1 – (Accept the condition as temporary) is important. You need to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Without question, Strategy #2 is the most important. Find money. That is the key to survival and the only way your business will be able to endure for the long term, until the vaccine arrives, and we begin to see a return to some sense of normalcy.

Without sufficient capital, it is impossible to support your clients, your employees, the community and your efforts to add new business.

Industry consultant Bob Tullio ( is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up. Tullio just launched a You Tube Channel, b2b Perspective, design to “elevate your business in 90 seconds” and is currently developing an online course, “Leverage the power of LinkedIn to grow your business.”

As he is a recognized industry expert in business development and sales, NAMA hired him to write and narrate the new online course, “Selling Convenience Services,” which is now available. Use discount code B2B10 for an instant discount and for free access to upcoming Q & A Webinars from Tullio in the coming months. Here is a free sample of the course.