Innovation

How to Beat the Recession: Debra Lykkemark

Tried and true strategies from entrepreneurs who've been there, fought back and won

Written by Chris Atchison and Susanne Ruder

DEBRA LYKKEMARK

CEO of Vancouver-based catering firm Culinary Capers Inc.

BEAT THE POST-9/11 DOWNTURN

DON’T WAIT TO CUT COSTS

“My business has grown 15% to 25% every year except right after 9/11, when we dropped from $4 million to about $3 million overnight,” says Lykkemark. “We were very proactive about asking all of our suppliers to extend our payables from 30 to 60 days. We negotiated deeper discounts from a lot of our food suppliers, as well as our insurance company. We went to our landlord and said, €˜We’re going through some tough times here, we need a break,’ and we got that. Then came the hardest part: laying off some staff and cutting back on some hours. But we retained the people who could multitask and had the upbeat, can-do, positive attitude we needed to keep our spirits up.

“Overall, our mandate was to cut costs anywhere that wouldn’t affect the service or the quality that our clients had come to know us for, because there’s always some competitor out there who is real hungry for your customers. Although our revenue ended up down 25% that year, we made the same profit on $3 million in sales as we had on $4 million.”

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Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com