The training answer to growing market share in a shrinking market.

Author:Hubbard, Andrew

MOST INDUSTRY EXPERTS ARE IN APPROXimate agreement that the next 12 months will see origination volume contract significantly from the prior 12 months.

Seeing economists in agreement is a red flag in itself, but this time I think they're right. Much more important, most companies are building their business plans on the premise of a shrinking production universe.

However, given the insatiable thirst parent companies and stockholders have for steadily growing profit and return on investment (ROI), these companies (or rather their executive managers) are under irresistible pressure to create a plan that includes these things.

How do you do this? What's the magical thing you can factor into a business plan to predict satisfactory earnings growth in a trough market year?

In every company I'm familiar with, the answer is that the plan includes increasing market share. An informal survey suggests that this factor is widespread, if not universal.

The idea that your company and all its competitors will increase market share next year has a certain head-in-the-sand humor. It also suggests some safe predictions. Here are three, with a probable corollary.

1) As the numbers start to roll in and it becomes inescapably obvious that not everybody can gain market share, the price wars will begin. Margins will be squeezed again. It will be a good year for consumers.

2) Certain members of the executive management teams of certain companies will become available for employment.

3) Some companies, by gosh, will increase market share and live to fight the good fight yet another year.

My corollary is that those companies that are successful will probably be successful because of a shrewd combination of financial strategies, technological strategies and training strategies ... which, of course, are my focus.

Here are my suggestions for the strategic training interventions a company should take for success in a period of market contraction.

First, don't cut training staff just because there is a decline in production volume. There may be other legitimate reasons to cut training, but a drop in volume is a signal to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of all employees--which is an inescapable...

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