Things are looking up in the UK; infection rates are falling, the vaccine rollout is progressing well and the Prime Minister has announced a roadmap out of lockdown. We can’t be sure how accurate scientific projections will be, but there’s reason to be optimistic in preparing for post-lockdown life. Here’s why you should be prioritising business planning as we approach summer.
While it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves at this point, it feels as though we can finally start planning for a future with the freedoms we used to enjoy. Many companies are now preparing for the summer rush by creating seasonal business plans to take them through to autumn 2021.
Why there’s cause to be optimistic about summer 2021
1. ‘Business confidence’ is at its highest level in five years - The accountancy body ICAEW has surveyed 1,000 businesses to calculate its ‘business confidence’ index, which increased from -19 in late 2020 to its current position of 10.
2. The vaccine rollout is going well - Over a third of Brits have now been vaccinated, and the government intends to offer the vaccine to everyone over the age of 18 before the end of July. These promising statistics suggest we will be able to start reopening businesses and removing restrictions later in the year.
3. Brexit has been finalised - The UK has now officially left the EU and secured a trade deal. Businesses can start to find stability in a new way of working and plan for the future (see our article on the impact of Brexit on franchising for more information).
4. People are enthusiastic to start enjoying life again - After over a year of restrictions and three lockdowns, most people are eager to get out of the house, meet loved ones and take part in social events. Most of these activities are likely to involve businesses which can help people enjoy the summer.
5. Consumers value community more than ever - The pandemic has cut people off from their families and friends, and forced local businesses to shut their doors for good. Over the past months, we’ve clapped for carers and celebrated lockdown icons like Marcus Rashford, Joe Wicks and Sir Tom Moore. Businesses are likely to benefit from this increased sense of community, particularly if they service local neighbourhoods.
6. Businesses are making leaps towards exciting targets - The business world is moving on - and not just because we’re (hopefully) nearing the end of the pandemic. Companies are working towards net-zero emissions targets, creating sustainable products and packaging, and championing diversity and inclusivity. Some are also implementing tech solutions like automation to boost productivity, and, as a result of the lockdowns, introducing greater flexibility with a view to improving work/life balance.
Rising confidence among businesses is an encouraging sign of things to come and a predicted growth in employment is good news for people who have lost their jobs over the past year.
—Michael Izza, ICAEW Chief Executive
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Business planning tips on preparing for the summer rush
- Consider ‘hybrid’ experiences - Even when all restrictions are lifted, it’s unlikely we’ll make an immediate return to our old ways of working and living. So, it’s worth thinking about how you can bridge the gap between current restrictions and new opportunities. For instance, many organisations will host events with guests attending both in person and online.
- Be ready to think on your feet and adapt quickly - Although the Prime Minister has laid out his roadmap, no one knows exactly how things will progress over the coming months, so you should create a contingency plan. Stay up to date with the news but don’t rule out problems unrelated to the pandemic; power outages, natural disasters and data breaches can happen at any time. Above all, make sure your plan is realistic and flexible.
- Put funds aside - For most businesses, money is tight at the moment, and it may not always be possible to keep savings. But if you can, maintain an emergency fund and take advantage of any financial incentives, grants or other resources on offer. Also, make sure you’ve saved enough to cover employee wages for the coming months.
- Consider your employees - People will be understandably concerned about emerging from lockdown and starting to socialise again. Make sure you’ve got provisions in place to support them.
- Observe other businesses - We’re in uncharted territory here, and many businesses will be unsure about how to reopen and welcome customers effectively and appropriately after so long. Some will get it right; some will get it wrong - but you can take inspiration from those who see success early on.
>> Read more:
2021 is the year we host the G7 and COP26 (2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference) – two golden opportunities to show the world we are an open, trading nation, reburnishing our reputation in the process.
—Tony Danker, CBI Director General
- Consider extended opening hours - Staying open for longer is just one way of preparing for the summer rush. It may allow you to stay safe by limiting the number of people on-site at once, and take advantage of increased customer numbers.
- Ask employees for holiday requests - While many people will opt to save money and stay safe at home, others will undoubtedly want to celebrate the end of lockdown with a well-deserved and long-overdue holiday. Either way, it’s better to find out when employees want to take annual leave sooner rather than later, so you can plan ahead.
- Plan your hiring scheme - If you decide to recruit new employees in preparing for post-lockdown life, you’re likely to receive lots of applications as a result of the increased level of unemployment. Make sure you have a hiring team in place to manage candidates efficiently and respectfully.
- Take advantage of work experience placements and internships - If you think you’ll need more hands on deck come the summer but you don’t have enough money to support experienced employees, you could consider advertising placements. If you can offer to provide an informative experience, you’ll be able to support people to boost their career prospects.
- Review your digital marketing material - In the past year, people have spent more time online than ever before. So, if you haven’t already refreshed your website and social media profiles, now is the time to do it. Then, when restrictions lift, you can hit the ground running with an expanding customer base.
2021 has the potential to be a defining year at the start of a new decade across the UK. The last 10 years were born of the financial crisis, with economic and societal discord alongside flatlining productivity as a result. The decade ahead of us has brighter prospects… Beating Covid-19 together will build a unity of purpose that will yield real rewards.
—Tony Danker, CBI Director General
Tips for building a short-term, seasonal business plan
You can find lots of helpful tips and advice here at Point Franchise. To learn more about managing problems and mastering business planning, see our dedicated guide on creating a crisis contingency programme, or use the search box to find specific information.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©