Expert Advice: Perspective on a Slow Economy
Jim McCann says re-invent events, don’t cancel themby Jim McCann | Published in December 2009 economy | Departments
Jim McCann says re-invent events, don’t cancel them
As we enter another holiday season in challenging economic times, corporate leaders are faced with the choice of whether to maintain, cancel or scale back corporate functions and holiday entertaining. Jim McCann has weathered these rocky environments a number of times since founding 1-800-FLOWERS.COM in 1976 and shares his perspective and his advice.
McCann started with a single flower shop and knew immediately the importance of work environment and benefits to attract and maintain quality employees. The pool of talent was limited when he first started because of all the other opportunities awaiting new graduates and seasoned professionals. Working in a flower shop means long hours and physically challenging requirements. McCann adopted a philosophy of “helping people achieve and develop beyond their expectations,” which paid off for him and his new company.
As a part of fostering a team culture at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, McCann focused on celebrating both successes and failures. Celebrations include corporate and holiday events for all levels of employees. Though they may not be able to be “big bash” events these days, McCann views them as an instrumental part of corporate culture.
After analyzing finances this year, McCann chose to continue celebrating with his employees, but with a different twist. “We need to heal and to say thank you to those people who are now working even harder and are even more stretched,” he says. This year, during the holidays, his company is having smaller, more intimate gatherings. Some suggestions to steal from his strategy:
• Maintain your relationship with your event planner. They know you and can help you strategize on reinventing your events to fit into new budgets
• Work with hotels, restaurants or venues to develop fixed-price meals, more affordable beverage packages
or overall discounts for smaller, more frequent events
• Host an event in the home of a team leader or at the office
• Create more intimate events that lend themselves to a more personal experience
• Don’t lose the important event elements such as entertainment, décor or takeaways, just do them on a more intimate and sophisticated scale
“Corporate events are more important than ever,” McCann says. “There is a need and a trend toward more intimate, connectedness, celebratory experiences.” Trend reports agree, indicating what he calls “homier, folksier” environments as the direction of events in the coming months.
McCann and many experts agree that conspicuous consumption is still out. “It isn’t just about the ‘wow’ that money can buy any longer, it is about addressing the needs of the client and the guests.” He believes that planners who can deliver a more sophisticated product will find the times ahead challenging, but exciting and creative as well.
“Those who invest in relationships and are creative will find success in this new market,” says McCann. He believes it is time to broaden our services and to strengthen our relationships with clients, employees and service providers.