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Edition 294 – Here It Comes!

Here in my home state of New South Wales, we’re as close as can be to the State Government’s 70% double dose vaccination target (and at 88% single dose!). Fingers crossed that we jump the chasm this week which means by next Monday 11th October, a raft of new freedoms will become available to individuals that themselves are double vaccinated. That will be at least two weeks earlier than originally envisaged and perhaps, in itself, a study on how to motivate people with a carrot (70% = freedoms) vs. a stick (cases = lockdowns).

My guess is that when everything opens back up, most businesses will be woefully underprepared. For some, the past three and a half months in some form of hibernation has made them slothful. The machines haven’t been turned on. The dust is resting on the shelves. The staff are completely out of touch with how to do some of the basics. I know this because of the conversations that I’m having right now with family business owners talking about their own situation and that of their clients.

This final quarter of the year tends to be a cracker in almost every industry. The artificial deadline of “we want it done by Christmas” has always been there. This year, rather than a slow build up, it’s going to be the business equivalent of jumping naked into an ice bath. A combination of the Christmas deadline and everyone’s desire to get out and resume some degree of normality means there will be added pressure on all businesses, their owners and their management teams.

Here’s what I’m hearing on the ground:

  1. A number of hospitality businesses simply can’t find staff at the moment.
  2. Retail businesses are having “uh-oh” moments and realising that the price increases they should have put out in June haven’t been done. They’re scrambling to adjust prices in readiness for a re-open.
  3. Staff that are onboard have been on reduced hours – so no one knows what they’re going to be like or how they’re going to perform when a full week of work presents itself.
  4. Some businesses haven’t turned on their equipment for months and, as a result, haven’t checked the status of anything either. Pubs and clubs with beer lines that have sat empty for over 100 days – that could be a bit yuk, assuming it works.
  5. Supply of materials is still a key issue and is not going away anytime soon. Good luck if you can get it and if you have, what price are you paying for it vs. what you quoted the client for the works pre-lockdown?
  6. Cash is getting tight for those businesses whose large debtor book has been paid down over the past 3 months and their work has been quiet. If you haven’t got your back-up lending in place at the moment to tide you through, you’ll struggle.

I’ve been making these noises throughout the past three months and yet there are still businesses that aren’t ready. It’s going to be an almighty headache for them, dealing with all of these issues in the busiest quarter of the year. Most will get through it, with a few bumps and bruises. Others may yet experience injury that is more long lasting – or terminal.

This Week’s Tip

Map out the next 12 weeks to ensure you have the resources that you need, in the state of preparedness that it should be, to get through.