Relationship director, Barclays Hospitality & Leisure Team
Nurturing the right partnerships will help your business survive any downturn
"May you live in interesting times" is, I believe, an old Chinese curse... or perhaps it's a proverb? Either way, in the wake of a lengthy period of benign economic conditions, where the sun has (almost) always shone and cheap credit has been readily available for corporate and personal borrowers alike, we are arguably heading towards choppier waters.
Whatever the current economic climate turns out to mean to your business will, of course, dictate the objectives and parameters of your success. For many, now is a time for belt tightening. For others, however, now is a time of opportunity - because, let's be frank about it, in the same way that one man's meat is another man's poison, a strained business over here is an opportunity to acquire and expand over there.
However, whichever side of this fence you might be on, if one wants support, now more than ever is a time to overcommunicate with stakeholders, be they equity investors, customers, suppliers, staff or your bank.
Mustering my almost 30 years (blimey, has it really been that long?) of experience as a specialised lender in the hospitality and leisure sector, and thus having been through similar challenges before, my advice is: make sure you have the right people with the right experience and true understanding of your business, and industry sector, on board.
Once you do, talk to them frequently. Talk to them very frequently indeed. Be very open. Don't bury your head in the sand... and don't be afraid, because if you have nurtured the right sort of relationship, both sides should realise that you are in this together.
So, whether you are trying to outperform your competitors, acquire new sites or simply keep up with the market, make sure that you are keeping the right company well informed in order to successfully deal with the challenges and opportunities generated by these interesting times.
● Barclays Commercial Bank is sponsoring the Leisure and Tourism Award