Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Taking Action in an Uncertain Environment

There’s no way around it. The waters of today’s business environment are murky at best. You name it, it’s in turmoil – financial markets, housing markets, the list goes on and on. And yes, that impact is felt even here in Idaho.

Call it what you may – a slowdown, an economic downturn, or even the dreaded ‘r’ word that is recession – we’re in it. It affects agencies, their business, and their clients. Like it or not, that is the reality in which we live.

And facing up to that reality will make it that much easier to get through.

Oliver Russell found themselves in that very position. As an agency owner, this is the third recession that Russ Stoddard has been through, and in his own words, “I learned a few things from the first two and am trying to apply those lessons as best I can, sooner rather than later.”

Placed in this position, and given the business outlook for the next six months to a year, it became apparent that cuts were necessary in order to reshape Oliver Russell to be successful for the long term. So, painful as it was, cuts were made. The end result, as Russ described, is that “we’ve got a creative team here that is now engaged with plenty of work. That wasn’t the case before the layoffs, and I didn’t see the economic environment changing for the better in a significant way.”

For those who were affected by the layoffs at Oliver Russell, the agency provided assistance to them where possible – from severance pay to job finding and assistance with the launch of new business ventures.

In the marketing and advertising community, this is certainly unpleasant news. And chances are, similar scenarios will play out elsewhere – both inside and beyond the borders of Idaho. Those who are in leadership or ownership positions in these agencies face some very tough decisions over the coming months. Those who are able to take action, however, rather than be paralyzed by fear, will have greater control over the future success of their respective agencies.

The eternal optimist, Russ signed off with a fitting conclusion to our exchange: “And for anyone out there in the ad/design/digital community who’s wondering, watch out – yeah, we’re alive, and we’re breathing fire.”

As for other agencies in and around Boise that are being called on by those who were impacted – take the meeting. They are all extremely talented people in their own right, and will be outstanding additions to any team.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the quote, "the agency provided assistance to them where possible" Oliver Russell was also nice enough to send a "don't forget about your non-compete" notice to some staff they had laid off. Now that IS helpful.

Miss Idaho said...

Non-competes....sheesh! For the most part, they aren't enforceable. The bigger issue is, treat people with respect -- in good times and bad -- and a non-compete is a non-issue.

Alicia Ritter

Jamie said...

Tough decisions and always hard no matter what. I guarantee this was not Russ' preferred path. To everyone that is in the business - now is the time to be focused, keep learning and work your asses off. Do what you can to help your agency financially and create a heightened sense of urgency. This melt down will force lots of client tension and they will be asking harder and more questions of all of us -mostly show me the ROI. Hey, why am I preaching to all of you? Forget all that, please just go back to what you were doing. My best to anyone in the job market. -jamie

Jeff Reynolds said...

I second that, Jamie. The only thing that we can all count on is change. Focusing on adding value at every step is the best thing we can do for the health of our client relationships AND the industry.

Thanks for publishing this, Brian. And best of luck to those now forced to find new opportunities.ph