business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

About a week ago, my adult son was stuck in traffic when the driver behind him momentarily lost focus and rear-ended him.

Thankfully, his car was hit at a fairly low speed. My son wasn't hurt and the car, while banged up, should be back on the road shortly.

Here’s why I share that story: when my son called me with the news, my entire concern was on his health and where he was stranded with a damaged car. Luckily, we have good insurance, AAA, and most of all, the other driver admitted all fault and immediately started taking steps to atone for her mistake.

For us, it was an inconvenience with a little scare and nothing else.

But for many Americans it would have been something very different. A recent Associated Press study found that two-thirds of Americans are so economically strapped that a $1,000 crisis is beyond them. Let’s be honest: $1,000 isn’t a gargantuan sum. There are countless household or family issues that could easily cost that much money including the fee for fixing a shattered car bumper.

The AP study found that more than one-third of Americans with incomes topping $100,000 would struggle to find that $1,000 rainy day fund. And worse yet, another study recently found that nearly half of American families would struggle to produce even $400 to weather an emergency.

So here we are nearly eight years after the Great Recession and despite the rise in the Dow Jones and the fall in unemployment, uncertainty reigns for many families and individuals.

It would be easy to add to the cacophony of voices blaming this situation on everyone from the government to big business to individuals themselves who seem to lack any common sense when it comes to money. Lord knows we all have opinions on this as we’ve seen recently in the discussion here at MNB about student debt and the challenges of the young generation.

But I’d like to suggest that we should look at this situation differently and through biased and self-serving eyes. All of these folks need to buy food.

When the Great Recession hit, the industry responded as it always did, simply because there was no choice. Our shoppers needed help and every company knew that the choice was to respond or watch competitors steal the business.

Not surprisingly we saw some great responses largely because it was the only thing to do. We saw retailers focus on money-saving strategies from price freezes on key items and to added focus on budgeting strategies.

The reality is that nearly eight years later the situation is better, but not well. Every bit of news reminds us that many of our customers still need our help. These customers include Millennials burdened by student debt and struggling to start careers, families facing diminished income due to shifting economic conditions, and retirees in far worse shape than they expected thanks to falling or vanishing home values.

No matter what, our job is simple: to help them get by because if you don’t do it someone else well.

So sure this may be the issue fueling Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in very different ways. However inside companies we need to think differently. To paraphrase The Godfather: It isn’t political, it’s business.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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