Guest Post

Extreme Nerve

by Todd Parent

As the CEO of Extreme Pizza, I have witnessed a lot of changes in the business climate over the past 15 years, but none has tested my nerve as much as the changes I have seen over the last 12 months. I realize that there is probably not a single company out there who hasn't had to face difficult decisions during this time. Yet, amidst the pressure from declining sales, layoffs and cut backs, I have learned a valuable lesson that has helped me navigate this tough economy and kept Extreme Pizza on the road to increased success. In the face of adversity, maintaining my nerve has provided me with clarity when making decisions and the ability to give my staff the confidence they need to keep pushing ahead.

Being a CEO, making difficult decisions under pressure comes with the territory. In this economy however, it's essential that these decisions are well thought out and mistake-free. Even small decisions can have a dramatic impact on my company. For Extreme Pizza, I think a knee jerk reaction to declining sales was to start scaling back our marketing budget. However, with some careful reassessing of what really drives sales for us, we made the decision to ramp up our marketing budget. This recession has forced us to try new promotional tactics and invest in more Internet-related marketing. A risky decision given the state of the economy, however, one that seems to be working really well for us.

Clear decision making aside, communicating my thought process behind my decisions to my staff has been even more critical. I've learned to share information on a daily basis so as to keep announcements like store closings or pay cuts from throwing them into a complete state of panic. Maintaining my composure as I lay out the road map ahead gives my employees the confidence to keep doing their jobs and more importantly, doing them well. I want them to be assured that should the recession end tomorrow, employee benefits and pay would be the first items to be reinstated.

Todd Parent is the CEO and Founder of Extreme Pizza. Founded in 1994, Extreme Pizza boasts 41 locations nationwide and is expanding.

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