It think we’ve all been getting these sorts of memos at work lately, and I recently got one from my alma mater. So, I decided to write one of my own. I figure someone’s going to leak it to the blogosphere anyway, so I’ll just post it here in the first place.
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Stober Family Members, Newton Highlands Branch
FROM: Marc Stober, Chief Operating Officer
DATE: November 21, 2008
SUBJECT: The Financial Crisis
With the recent news on Wall Street, I have been hearing many concerns about our organization’s situation and wanted to take this opportunity to detail what we are doing from the top.
First, there will be no layoffs.
As you know, we are operating at a deficit this year, due to extraordinary child care and preschool expenses. It is important to note that this is unrelated to the general financial crisis, and these expenses are fully funded through school year 2008-9.
In terms of recurring revenue, our employers have indicated that they are committed to continuing at present levels on a monthly basis. However, they are also facing pressure, and, based on our discussions with them, we are budgeting for a significantly smaller increase in revenue compared to what we have seen in recent years.
At present, our greatest exposure is highly leveraged real estate debt used to purchase our primary residence. While related debt service is our largest recurring expense, the good news is that this is a fixed expense that will not increase until at least 2013. We believe our investment is fundamentally sound, and will achieve long-term growth while continuing to provide immediate benefits through use of the underlying assets, regardless of the current market.
Our extended family’s long history of continuous operation through difficult times–including the Great Depression–gives us the strength to navigate in the present climate. However, in light of the global financial situation, there are some measures we are taking to cut back expenses. We feel these measures are prudent to preserve cash flow in the face of uncertain growth and unfavorable credit prospects.
The most difficult budget issue is transportation, and we have not made any final decisions. As you know, our second car was scheduled for replacement at the end of this school year, and we may decide to extend its service life. The reason we have not made a final decision is that repair costs required for this course of action are yet unknown. While this is potentially disappointing, keep in mind that our primary car still serves over 80% or our non-transit transportation needs. We committed to meeting those needs, and through a program of regular maintenance (that has not been cut), we have not had any unplanned downtime for a primary car in over 4 years. Additionally, thanks to successful strategic planning undertaken by the Board, we are uniquely situated for a suburban family to be able to utilize the MBTA as a safe, cost-effective option.
In the Travel and Entertainment category, you will find that fewer requests to eat in restaurants will be approved, and requests for desserts in restaurants, particularly, will not be approved (unless they are included in the cost of a kid’s meal). In the case of Cabot’s or The Cheesecake Factory, where ice cream or cheesecake, respectively, is kind of the point, sharing is strongly encouraged. An additional benefit of this will be improved health. Netflix has been put on hold for 90 days, and we will reconsider that offering then; unopened red envelopes left on top of the TV indicate a lack of demand at present. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions are subject to elimination as well. Executives, including myself, are being asked to purchase regular coffee in place of more expensive coffee drinks while traveling, and to utilize meals from our on-site food service provider whenever possible.
Charitable giving will continue, primarily to organizations to which we have supported on a regular annual basis, and new requests will be considered individually.
All major vacations, home improvements, and furniture purchases are temporarily put on hold, unless essential. Pre-approved food and clothing purchases can continue as needed and may be subject to increased budget scrutiny.
Lastly, note that we have no plans to add human resources. Requests for non-human resources (i.e., pets) may be considered in a future fiscal year.
The bottom line is that while the coming years may not be everything we want, we will stay together and have great stories to tell the grandkids.
If only my memo-writing skills could get me a job as a real CEO….