Expert View: Business Planning & Contingency
Cumberland Business is the commercial lending and business banking arm of Cumberland Building Society. Headquartered in Carlisle, it has branches across the county – and beyond – and has a specialism in lending to guesthouses, B&Bs, holiday lets and hotels.
“It’s an unsettling time for local businesses,” says Simon Whitwham, General Manager at Cumberland Business. “However, it is vital that tourism-related businesses not only ready themselves for the challenges ahead, but are clear on how to seize any opportunities.
“Our advice to Cumbrian tourism businesses would be to review your plans and contingencies to ensure they are robust and to understand what the potential impacts might be. We have worked with businesses through challenging times – from foot and mouth to the floods – and the over-riding lesson is that preparation is key.”
Simon says a business plan is the roadmap that sits above the ‘business as usual’. He continues, “Your business plan should clearly set out your goals and steps needed to reach them, but it shouldn’t be static. Remember, it’s a working document and will need constantly refining. After all, how often do things go the way you expect?”
Think in terms of…. Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, Financial Plan, Exit Strategy
At times of uncertainty, it is particularly important to practice proactive business management, revisit your plan and ensure you have contingency in place for potential outcomes.
In terms of finance, Simon recommends considering two main areas which may impact your business:
- The Government’s Yellowhammer contingency plan reported that, in the event of a no deal Brexit, food prices could rise. Consider whether this would impact your operations, especially margins, and what you might be able to do to mitigate.
- Consult the Government’s information about the EU Settlement Scheme and other employment implications. If you think there is a chance that a ‘no deal’ outcome will impact your workforce, think about how you might tackle that in terms of immediate and future recruitment, and potential impact on costs.
- Consider the costs and cashflow implications of any drop off in bookings, and again think about how you can counter this. You may need to remarket cancelled bookings. How can you do this quickly? Do you need to amend your pricing to fill vacancies?.
- Also, consider the implications of any changes to travel requirements, especially if your business attracts a high number of international travellers.
- How could a reduction in international visitors be reversed?
Simon adds, “Our region is blessed with expertise and support from a variety of organisations and I highly recommend making the most of resources such as the document you are reading, along with Cumbria Tourism’s online toolkit, to help navigate through this uncertain economic climate.”