When the economy and businesses return to a life with a reduced threat from the pandemic, there will be many things that will happen. It is likely that the dam holding back activity will open its gates. Whether that is a steady flow or a flood is open to speculation, but for industry to respond it has to be prepared.
There will no doubt be a serious inquest on the outbreak and how it came to be. We know about the source of course, but inquests are a distraction from the essential task of protecting business and all that this means to employees, stakeholders and future economic prosperity. Not to mention the repayment of a huge financial debt.
My view on sourcing of components and products from low cost sources is rather mixed. I have in the past used the far east to procure well priced components with highly economic tooling cost and that has been successful. The global economy is just that, global and mutually beneficial. But looking forward I see a new opportunity for UK sourcing of products and components. I would also include our near neighbours across Europe in the post B***** environment (a word I must not utter) where we must continue to trade and cooperate.
My focus is not though about sourcing and the political fallout from the inquests to come, but how important it is that businesses prepare themselves for the future immediately. The difficulties in maintaining a business when your markets shrink or even start to disappear are considerable and many may not have experienced this before. After all, August 2008 must seem like a stroll in the park compared to today. But one thing is vitally different and that is the longevity is nothing like the financial crisis of before.
I consider it vital that businesses should have in place a post virus strategy that prepares them to rebuild their markets and their market share. One small example I have noticed is that some businesses have welcomed Government interventions to support the cost of staff being furloughed. Take the money and happy days to follow perhaps? Staff of course cannot do any work at all, which is OK for some functions, but in business development and the maintenance of marketing strategy it certainly is not OK.
If your competitors have their foot off the gas, now is the time is to go and eat their lunch before they eat yours. And while you are at it have their breakfast and dinner as well.
The customer relationship through the Sales and Marketing process is just one example. A business needs to look at all aspects of “being fit” and I would recommend setting up a group of senior managers and relevant staff to plan things out. Everything should be in the mix, supply chains, purchasing, marketing, HR, customer services, finance, manufacturing etc. Also give it plenty of creativity as being different from your much thinner competitors is important.
Those who know me will be quite aware of my affinity with quality poetry and prose. I have on occasions quoted the bard Robert Burns, and so here is a toast to UK business and manufacturing. “Here’s tae us. Wha’s like us? Damn few”.*
*Translation. “Here’s to us. Who is like us? Damn few”