Downturn can strengthen businesses

Thursday 6th November 2008 00:00

The downturn need not be all doom and gloom for hospitality operators, insists Peter Wood, general manager of Grayshott Spa in Guildford, Surrey, and Master Innholder

We are all acutely aware about our costs, and the skill for any manager is to ensure there is always sufficient turnover to meet them. With the existing challenging economic climate combined with spiralling costs, we need to be seriously on our toes to ensure that our businesses continue to flourish.

Periods of downturn force us to thoroughly examine our businesses. When a member of staff resigns, the question should be asked whether that member of staff needs replacing. Can the role be done slightly differently? Can someone else combine their existing role with part of that role? Shift patterns should be analysed to ensure the business is manned to maximum efficiency. Is there an understanding of what additional skills people have within the organisation, and do they have the opportunity to voice their ideas?

Training should be the very last area looked at for reducing costs, particularly any internal training. An increase in training will provide staff with additional motivation during a period that may make them feel insecure and demotivated.

Communication and transparency throughout the organisation is crucial so that everyone understands why certain changes happen. Most of us would be more amenable to restructure than redundancy, and people are readier to accept change if this might protect their own, or a colleague's, job.

With utility costs soaring, a free survey from the Carbon Trust provides a plethora of ideas, some of which do not require an expensive outlay and can provide savings. Staff, when asked, can often contribute creative ways of saving money.

Businesses that prove they can "duck and dive" in a downturn will come out stronger and quicker when a more thriving economy returns. Combine this with creative ideas on utility savings and increased revenue, and businesses can become more robust and prosperous as a direct result of a downturn.


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