During the Brexit referendum debate it appeared fantastically difficult to predict the likely effects, positive or negative, upon the economy. Even now we all know the result, there appears to be little to no analytical comment in the press, online or anywhere of the actual effects beyond the scaremongering and half-truths.
Instead, we get nefarious references to “uncertainty”, along with the usual robotic daily broadcast of the level of the FTSE100, the £/$/€ exchange rates and speculation on whether the interest rate might be cut or raised by 1/4 per cent.
It wasn’t long ago we’d be informed about the price of an ounce of gold, too. It is as if imagining that the UK’s 70 million people are all FTSE bosses, bank executives or derivatives traders, and that we’re all anxiously holding on to hear the next fractional and largely insignificant move up or down. We’re not!
It would be infinitely more meaningful to quote the farm gate price of a pint of milk, or a litre of diesel, but I guess that doesn’t carry quite the same cache.
What is far more interesting is to hear some specifics about “uncertainty”. Why should uncertainty be so dangerous? What can we do about it?
We hope to shed light upon this by examining real world implications of Brexit, and moreover how you might test your own business position. Let’s take one example.
Business X is in facilities services, serving 40,000 customer accounts with a fleet of 400 vehicles operating out of a national network of depots. Each depot serves a geographic area, with drivers paid well above minimum wage, undertaking between 20 – 30 service ‘drops’ every day; a fairly average distribution/service operation.
Complexity is increased over and above a typical basic delivery operation in that certain service drops are required at fixed times, at fixed intervals, drivers must be trained in the range of services provided, be DBS checked, and so on.
All told, there are over 32 separate service variables that make this one of the most complex operations you’ll encounter. There’s also 15 per cent customer churn, half that of the industry average following a programme with Applied Acumen, but you get the idea – it’s still quite a fickle market.
So business X has three key challenges: the first, growth (of course), second, to push the envelope of performance in efficiency and in service, and third, continuing to set industry benchmarks for customer churn.
However, consider also that 50% of the drivers currently employed may potentially be unemployable or absent in 2 years’ time. European drivers may no longer be eligible to work, or they may be eligible but may not be motivated to for personal, or other reasons.
At the very least there may be changes in the engagement terms of their contracts, potentially but not necessarily Visa related, but also relating to tax, and to entitlements and allowances pertinent to the reciprocal agreements in place for all members of the EU. Or they may simply be ejected to meet nominal quotas demanded by hapless politicians answerable to a baying public.
Now, to be clear, none of these issues are insurmountable. The simple point made here is that they are additional to the core business challenges, and thus detract from paying those core challenges the full attention they need.
If business X is not accustomed to employing non-EU citizens, and doesn’t have procedures and protocols in place for checking passports and eligibility to work, or a plan to accommodate people who may find they are unable to access public services and therefore find working in the UK doesn’t quite add up any more, then trouble lies ahead.
It could be minor trouble: a bit more admin. Or it could be catastrophic: 50% of the customers don’t get serviced. Perhaps those customers are themselves going to disappear…in any event, neither is an attractive scenario.
So what is the message?
The point is – what is your plan? Do you have one? Exactly how many of your employees are from the EU? What are the procedural and administrative differences between an EU, a non-EU and a British employee? How might you actively and strategically increase the number of Brits on your payroll over the next two years?
If you can answer these questions then you are doing better than most medium to large businesses, and infinitely better than the clowns who dominate the media. Such an organisation would also score well on our High Performing Organisation benchmark.
We might moan and gripe about how badly our politicians have messed up and not bothered to get too specific with the facts, but we don’t have to travel too far to find this poor form repeated.
In the meantime, whilst you get your Brexit plan together, Applied Acumen can help you keep on track with all the other stuff, you know, like making complex service operations more efficient.
Richard Shipperbottom is the co-founder and joint CEO of award-winning performance behaviour consultancy Applied Acumen Limited. In addition to being one of the UK’s leading experts on uplifting organisational performance, Richard has himself started, built and managed several successful B2B and B2C businesses, and has worked with dozens of start ups, SME’s and multinational companies on growth, turnarounds and profit generation programmes in a career spanning 3 decades.