Because that is how I feel after listening to Radio 4 for any hour of any morning right now and yet, after I get out of the car and get into work it is quite clear that for most of our clients the opposite is true. Yes, it’s tough. Yes, if you are buying from Europe and selling here your margins have just gone down the toilet. Your customers moan about you trying to increase prices whilst your suppliers (particularly, it seems to me, our French colleagues) adopt a ‘can’t understand what you are talking about’ attitude when it comes to discussing exchange differences – ‘you were the ones that decided not to join the Euro’ followed by the French shrug. OK, the French have great cheese and the wines remain better than the stuff from Kent but perhaps arguably not as good as those from down under!
But, seriously, what are we to do if we are not going to make an exit in a bath full of hot water? Like many of our customers, we are fortunate enough to have a loyal customer base and in talking to that base it is clear that the smart ones are taking the time to sit back and reassess their position. Now, more than ever, is the time to focus on the often very small difference between two very large numbers i.e. your profit. Now it really does come down to systems and efficiency. Making your systems really work for you and for example really beefing up your CRM and account management generally. Spending time tenaciously digging up and revealing new opportunities (a bit like truffle hunting – something the French are very good at)!
In my role, looking at mergers and acquisitions it is a wait and see game. We have strong cash balances that will see us through the storm no matter how bad it gets and even yet, we would prefer to invest and move forward rather than just watch and wait – we will do our own truffle hunting. Regrettably for some but fortunate for others, there will be some bargains out there in the next 18 months. There will also be some great innovation opportunities as people beat their way out of the upcoming recession and we will be looking for those businesses who have been able to tough it out through a bad time and are stronger because of it. One thing is for sure, recession or not, it all keeps rolling forward and takes us along with it. So, for now at least, turn off Radio 4, take the plug out of that bath and spend some time thinking about how and why you will keep your head whilst those around you are losing theirs.
Chris Tossell, Commercial Director
Access Technology Group