Monday, July 20, 2020
Even at the lowest point of lockdown there was hope.
As lifting and rigging equipment suppliers, we were part of only a select few industries that were able to keep trading to supply certain industries and key workers with the tools they needed to keep our society and economy moving. Now, as we come out the other side of the pandemic (hopefully to never return) there is certainly much to keep us upbeat, especially if we resist the temptation to be too negative.
The beauty of positivity is that it leads to action. And that’s a word I associate with good things like accomplishment, achievement and movement.
Negativity and fear lead to battened down hatches and a sedentary state that can do irreparable harm to businesses, much like they can to an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing. Of course, it’s a time to be responsible and we’ve all looked at furlough and other schemes that can support us through this unprecedented chapter in history, but these measures have got to be part of a wider, aggressive strategy that plans a company for growth and prosperity.
We’ve picked up a lot of contracts recently just by being open. How hard is that? Many companies have closed depots and regional offices, which might save some money in the short-term but consider what message it sends to the local customer base. In many instances, it isn’t clear how long the shutters are down for. Is it opening next week or closed for good? We continue to process orders from new customers that have come to us because their usual supplier is unavailable—temporarily or permanently. If you’re in a holding pattern yourself, have a think about where your customers might be going. And, more importantly, how will you get them back?
Marketing is a reliable barometer with which to measure a business’s approach to recovery. In other words, are they marketing or not? CFOs are guarding resources closer than ever at the moment (I pay mine to do the same) but being too conservative can be counterproductive. We haven’t cancelled advertisements; we’ve booked them. Over the next few months we’ll appear in eight different magazines, each one targeting a dedicated audience with tailored artwork. Steel, tunnels, infrastructure, construction, wind energy and other sites have remained constant and we want to stay in front of decision makers.
Amid all the doom and gloom (have news bulletins ever been more depressing?) there are positive signs out there. Building firms expanded activity in June at the fastest pace in more than two years, which is activity further boosted by talk of a stamp duty holiday. I read one encouraging article that said that home builders accounted for the uplift in construction after the Project Management Institute (PMI) construction survey found that 46% of firms reported an increase in business compared with 27% that experienced a reduction.
The company you keep
As your parents might have told you while you were growing up, you can be judged by the company you keep.
Some thought leaders take it deeper than that and say, they can show you your future if you show them your friends. I think the point is the same: it’s prudent to surround oneself with people who motivate you to improve and not lead one astray. It’s definitely a good time in business to have the right relationships in place and a climate that’ll test those that were held together by PVA glue instead of cement.
We’ve found that our nationwide distributor and service partnership with JD Neuhaus (JDN) has opened doors beyond the product range itself. It’s worth thinking about the people and brands that are associated with you and your company. The current climate has created an environment where connections seem easier to make—and break. We have the perfect excuse to sever ties with time wasters and forge relationships with others that might prove to be better long-term partners. Is that partner who hasn’t been heard from since March really worth keeping? On the other hand, who has proved to be customer-focussed, dynamic, loyal and communicative?
As the new normal continues to take shape, extra time might still be available as a business operates at, say, 80% capacity for the foreseeable future. First of all, that should be taken as a positive from a revenue standpoint (think about what a hotel or restaurant has endured) and, secondly, that 20% space can work in one’s favour. We’ve been able to devote more time to our engineering services division, for example, and I know that our department head and design engineer feel better equipped to tackle the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow than they did pre-pandemic.
There isn’t a rule that says you have to come out of this period weaker than you went in.
The first Global Lifting Awareness Day took place on 9 July, where the sector came together to share content at the #GLAD2020 hashtag on social media. I hear the driving force behind it, the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), were pleased with traction and I certainly detected a great deal of activity on Twitter and LinkedIn especially. Two things were apparent:
- Non-commercial content stands out
LEEA and its GLAD partners pleaded with companies not to piggyback on the initiative and post self-serving messages about their companies. Rightly, they didn’t want members and lifting industry stakeholders to poorly represent the sector by tweeting things like, ‘Our rigging gear is the best in the business. You’ll be #GLAD2020 to be our customer’. Instead, they wanted people to post about what makes their life in the industry enjoyable and rewarding (see below).
Most took note and contributed authentically, while a few let the team down. What was clear, however, was that the more interesting posts got the most engagement and were ultimately more successful. If you were new to the lifting industry you wouldn’t want to read a bunch of advertisements, would you?
- I want to hear your story
Some of the most interesting #GLAD2020 content was created when participants shared their stories about their pathway into the sector, which is something I think LEEA will encourage more of ahead of and during #GLAD2021 (8 July). Inescapably, it is an industry with a recruitment problem and one of the concept’s primary objectives is to change that.
Sharing stories about how our industry’s CEOs, supervisors, engineers and trainers found themselves here is a powerful way of finding like-minded individuals that might not have considered the lifting industry as a career path. There are those who followed their fathers and grandfathers into the business, but it was fascinating to hear about the many other routes that led people to the top of a crane or beneath a hook.
How did you arrive in the lifting industry?
Bring on #GLAD2021.
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd