POST COVID19 – WHAT WILL THE ‘NEW NORMAL’ LOOK LIKE?

So how do things change?

Authors note: the information held within this article is generic and anyone reading this should not rely solely on the information herein as specific advice for their organisation.

This is obviously the question that is burning through almost everybody’s mind currently. Whilst nobody knows the real answers, we can advise that in order to find your answer some patience will be required.

SBAAS has become quite alarmed at the number of what can only be described as quick fixes, to the post-COVID19 business landscape. Whilst we recognise that we do live in an instant-gratification society, we also believe that this needs to change when planning your future.

Firstly, many business owners have a great deal more time on their hands currently, so don’t lie to yourself using the usual cop-outs; I’m too busy, you only need to have a basic plan anyway, planning doesn’t really make that much of a difference, and so forth.

For every industry there will be changes; things are just not going to return to our previous version of normal, because by the time it can, new habits will have been formed. The worst hit will be retail, which was struggling openly prior to this.

Does this mean that the likes of Amazon and eBay have won? Not really, no, it just means you need to plan how you will compete. eBay is already advertising how many Australian small businesses sell through them, and are probably doing the same for every country they trade in.

After events such as this (economically speaking) nations tend to move toward a protectionist culture, buy local, support local and so forth. In Australia, we have just been demonstrated how little we manufacture here and how reliant in certain areas we are on the rest of the world, so home grown and manufactured will be a significant USP for a while.

What about other industries, how are they likely to be affected? It is a great question and this article will not be able to cover all industries, but I will postulate on a few.

Hospitality and Entertainment

This space is one of the ficklest economic spaces to trade in, because any downturn in an economy will result in less expenditure in things like eating out, movies, concerts or even a barista-made coffee!

COVID19 has complicated this further, because after all this is over, new habits around social distancing and avoiding each other will have formed. Add to this the news that COVID19 is continually mutating which is why people can get it, and therefore spread it, multiple times and you have a potential new era of fear and paranoia within any industry that requires proximity. I mean, how will Tiger Air manage to convince 6 people to sit in the same space QANTAS sits 9?

Hospitality and Event organisations need to start contemplating now, how they will be trading once the new normal starts. No contact home delivery is already happening and if you’re late to that party, don’t panic; statistics show that those who copy, but with an improved service delivery often outperform the originators!

Agribusiness

Is this the return of Australia riding on the sheep’s back? Well, maybe not, but there will, as noted, be more focus on where food is sourced, but there will be another caveat attached (most likely) in the future. Something else we are learning quite rapidly is that the earth doesn’t require us for it to carry on as normal, and without us using millions of tonnes of fossil fuels, air quality has improved and native animals are returning to areas our over-development have pushed them out of.

Whilst this argument may seem more poignant for office workers remaining work-from-home employees (subject of another article at some point I dare say), this may also move into the Agribusiness sector; questions surrounding sustainability will become more common, but most importantly we must start asking questions around farm-gate pricing for our groceries. Using the Dairy industry as an example, with the number of dairy farmers closing their doors over the past decade or two, what if this downturn caused double that number to close? Short answer, I really hope you did not want to continue to have milk in your coffee! Same goes for all other grocery items.

This does not solve the business modelling options for Agribusinesses and it will not necessarily involve diversification or streamlining their commercial options. The agricultural sector needs to start considering some innovative and unique collaborations, creating power through unity. That is; what they need to diversify is their sales channel options.

Tourism and travel

There will be a slow return to overseas travel, but until anyone has confidence in the health and safety re: COVID19 of other countries, local travel will recover first. Tourism is a tricky thing (thanks Captain Obvious!) because it is not one business or one type of business that benefits. Yes, there are some obvious ones, pub, cafes, accommodation, and the likes; but what about transport such as local taxi’s, florists even. A strong tourism industry within an area affects almost every business in some way.

Let me give an example of how strong tourism can even affect the local plumber. Mary owns the local motel, she has had so many people coming in and out the wear and tear on her taps in the bathrooms has tripled causing drips, breaks and so forth (yes, I have way over-simplified things, solely for simplified messaging purposes).

Harry owns the local restaurant; he has been so busy he has to hire someone to maintain his lawn and a dog-walker to keep Rufus fit and occupied. The point being any strong small business will help create one or two more strong small businesses.

So how do you build or repair your tourism industry? Collaboration, selective and well considered collaboration. Well thought out planning, creating strategies than align with your region and its culture will work wonders.

What can you do?

Plan, review, and plan! Look, many people have quite a bit of time on their hands currently, but they believe they need to knee-jerk their way out of this. The biggest winners currently are the alleged marketing specialists who are spruiking everything about pushing your market hard whilst others aren’t (for the record, have you also noticed the massive increase in your inbox and social media streams?) and the biggest losers will be those who don’t stop and consider who or what their market will look like when all this is over.

Seek advice, but when seeking advice note how myopic, skewed, or polarised toward the sole services of the advisor is. You need considered advice that does not come from fear, but rather, from deliberation across the entirety of your business and your marketplace.

It is not all bad news, in fact, a carefully considered strategy and intelligent alliances could bring the economy back into shape much quicker than you would expect. You need to plan carefully and thoroughly (go on, you have the time!), see through the negative press narrative, certainly analyse the sh*tstorm of politicising that is absolutely bound to follow, and create an action plan that you can follow and measure; always measuring!

I want to finish stressing the common themes throughout this article:

  • All marketplaces will change because of this;
  • You need a well-considered, holistic business strategy to come out the other end; and
  • Collaboration in areas you never considered previously will probably be your saviour.

Good luck, stay home if you can and stay safe!

Eric Allgood

Managing Director

About the author:

Eric has over 20 years senior management and executive business coaching experience. Having owned and sold a variety of successful businesses himself, he has also provided advice and assistance to organisations from sole operators through to large Government departments and multi-national organisations.

His extensive experience in the areas of strategic planning, financial management, industrial relations and human resources, learning and development, and operational efficiency coupled with his continued education and thirst for knowledge form the foundations to the practical advice he provides his clients.