Anyone who knows anything about scouting will be familiar with the scout’s motto; ‘be prepared’. Having heard that motto, someone asked Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell the inevitable follow-up question. “Prepared for what?” “Why, for any old thing,” he replied.
Well, we can be a bit more specific than that. Like the rest of the country, at JPA Brenson Lawlor we are more than hopeful that the awful scourge of Covid-19 looks to be on the wane and socially and economically we’re heading back to something like normal. Actually, I’m avoiding using the term the ‘new normal’ as I think we all want to get back to the ‘old normal’ as quickly as possible, albeit with the exception of using Zoom (occasionally, but not all the time) and there’s no harm in washing our hands more regularly.
But while we and our businesses have been locked up, something interesting has been going on in the economy. Presumably as we couldn’t do anything, go anywhere or spend anything the nation has been saving. A lot. Irish households saved twice as much in 2020 compared to the previous year according to figures from the Central Statistics Office, totalling a massive €28 billion. That’s roughly equivalent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Latvia (population 1.9 million). Our savings are, very roughly, equivalent to the median household income (€43,000) in this country for nearly 650,000 households. This is known as a big ‘wall of money’.
Fund managers are fond of saying that past performance is no indication of the future…but, in this instance, I believe that based on past Irish consumer behaviour, that it’s most likely that this ‘wall’ is about to be spent. Herein lies a big opportunity for HAI members. This may be a golden opportunity to put your hand up for a decent chunk of that income.
As business advisors to a wide range of businesses across many sectors, it’s my well-informed (I hope) view that businesses like yours should not wait for the bank vaults to open. Now is the time to try to lock in that spending. And how? Get consumers to spend their money with you now. Don’t let it be frittered away on fancy meals and foreign holidays.
The key is to give an incentive to purchasers to spend money now on products that you can deliver in the future. At JPA Brenson Lawlor we understand the supply problems your industry is having between delays and shipping costs from China.
The massive increase in timber prices (and we’re now reading how all-time high corn prices – yes corn! – are impacting on items from insulation items to wallpaper paste), and even a ship blocking the Suez Canal are all conspiring to make hardware pricing certainty highly uncertain.
My advice is to advise your customers of these issues, explain that you want them to get the best deal, and all you ask is for a
booking deposit. That means you are locking in your sale now and your customer should ‘feel the love’ of you taking care of their interests. It’s no different to booking an airline flight. You’re booked in weeks if not months in advance, for ‘the best deal’!
So, as the scouts say, ‘be prepared’, and take the initiative now. When it becomes clear that we’re finally, finally away from the horror of Covid, the (gold) rush will be on, but hopefully HAI members will have the early mover advantage.
This Business Support article featured in the May/June 2021 issue of The Hardware Journal.