Article contributed by Mike Berman, COO, Day & Nite/All Service, with Tia Tassava
Lingering effects of brutal impeachment proceedings, a sluggish economy negatively impacted by lethal virus experts believed would unleash the worst global pandemic since 1918, further compounded by a bitterly partisan presidential election pitting a Washington DC fixture against an outsider more known for his business accomplishments than a political career. Of course, I’m talking about 1976.
Although America’s bicentennial year doesn’t fully compare to 2020’s events, for business planning and budgeting purposes 1976 can be particularly instructional. Perhaps by nature and practice, Americans are optimistic and more focused on solutions than problems. Like all good things, these otherwise positive traits can quickly become liabilities, especially when rooting for outcomes overtakes steely-eyed pragmatism. We’re all enthusiastic about reports a COVID-19 vaccine is just around the corner, yet reality is imminent cooler weather and outdoor dining are likely to come into conflict much sooner than any Covid-19 vaccine is in even limited use. Even the most generous of loosened indoor dining restrictions fall far below minimally acceptable turnover rates; hanging all plans and hopes on the certainty of a vaccine, or any single magic remedy, is a perilous practice. The lessons of 1976 serve as the best guidance for conducting business planning and budgeting in volatile conditions with emphasis on uncertainty rather than certainty.
Yes, everyone is exhausted by this year’s chronic and seemingly endless uncertainty. Sure, believing this couldn’t get any worse is far more comforting than terminal fretting. Certainly, relatively stable and manageable reports of new coronavirus cases in major cities is reassuring. These considerations and more all give legitimate reasons to look ahead with at least mild confidence. Please keep these sentiments out of your 2021 planning and budgeting.
Taking input from your trusted business partners, suppliers, and network, 2021 planning and budgeting must be built around uncertainty–known uncertainty, worst scenario planning uncertainty, and all-encompassing uncertainty. We’re talking making Murphy blush about how feeble Murphy’s Law is when it comes to worst case, by building plans and budgets from uncertainty’s wildest extremes.
This exercise will allow you to accomplish many important things, most notably to truly isolate and protect business priorities and necessities. Uncertainty-based planning and budgeting amounts to prepackaged and heightened austerity. If you do this right, you will be downright scared and depressed once you’ve finished. And if you do this well, that empty feeling will soon be replaced by energetic joy.
Doing it right and well, of course, involves following all proven crisis-era budgeting and planning best practices featured in this column over the past month. If you have involved vendors and their formidable competitors in your planning and budgeting process as recommended, it is now time to bring them back in for very frank discussions. A comprehensive worst case means less funding for even your business priorities and necessities. If you have approached as the integrated discipline as previously advised, you have turned prior line items into bundled categories. A combination such as this leads to highly constructive, pragmatic, aligned among all stakeholders in your business problem-solving. Up until direct vendor involvement you only have plans and a draft budget. At the supplier inclusion stage, you will rapidly determine who your real business partners are while also identifying vendors unable to be anything more than a fee for service/product providers.
Recognizing how essential uncertainty-based planning and budgeting is, the Day & Nite family of companies is actively conducting business reviews with both customers and non-customers. More than providing deep insights, these sessions have also led to significant invention breakthroughs in product and service bundling and innovation in financing options for both services and products. Collaborative uncertainty-based planning and budgeting organized to restaurants and hotels spending less than prior years, yet getting far more environmental, workplace, employee, guest, and food safety coverage.
Without a doubt, hygiene and safety rank as the top planning priority-necessities. Applying 1976’s lessons means avoiding easy answers steeped in rooting interests, instead purposefully going in the opposite direction. That’s a journey not to be ventured alone. If your vendors aren’t already immersed in this essential planning with you, don’t put your business at further risk; contact email@example.com.