Glass half full!
5 October 2021
As the previous post discussed, a number of recent factors have created a rather gloomy, uncertain outlook in some quarters, not unlike the onset of October and the more autumnal feel in the air.
You can read that earlier item here.
However, there are other ways of looking at things which suggests that the metaphorical glass should be seen as half full, rather than half empty.
And several of the ten reasons below arise out of the fact that, unusually in times of uncertainty, construction and related sectors like hire find themselves in a largely positive situation:
1. Bright opportunities. The same point that ended the previous post can be regarded as a positive. Longer nights and colder conditions bring greater demand for hire fleet staples like heaters and lighting equipment. Busy contractors will need to keep working. And if recent years are a guide, autumn and winter could well see extreme weather events and a need for pumps, dehumidifiers and dryers.
2. Vaccines. The astonishingly fast development of Covid-19 vaccines (highlighted in a blog post last November) and their rapid rollout by the NHS has put the population in a better situation than anyone could have imagined. A continuous and widespread inoculation programme together with boosters could make Covid endemic rather than a pandemic, like seasonal flu. This would give a resilient population unhindered by lockdowns.
3. Tests and jabs. Indeed, the government’s recent commitment to extending the testing and vaccination programme means that demand for hired equipment to establish and maintain these facilities will continue for some time yet, from temporary structures and lighting, to fencing and barriers. And last week the Government announced plans for 40 new community diagnostic centres to tackle medical care backlogs, situated in locations like shopping centres and, even, football stadiums.
4. Downturn or correction? While there have been many reports of supply chain disruptions, container and freight transport delays, material shortages and recruitment difficulties, it could also be argued that this reflects the strength of the global bounce back. And as mentioned previously, hirers and other businesses have been working flat out, dealing with record utilisation levels, and at risk of burnout. Some correction is necessary to get back to normal from abnormality – and that’s not the same as a downturn, whatever the national media might tell you.
5. Demand. Construction activity looks set to remain strong. While people will no longer be on furlough and improving their home environments during the week, the government has placed infrastructure improvements at the heart of its policy under Boris Johnson’s slogan “Build, build, build.” A recent post described construction managers as being in upbeat mood. And moving forward the prime minister, speaking ahead of this week’s Conservative party conference in Manchester, envisaged a “high wage, high skills” economy.
6. Diverse markets. Almost 20 years ago, I remember a legendary hire professional saying that there was really no such thing as a general recession any more. In a broad and mixed economy, some markets will be positive while some will be down. The key is obviously to target the latter. Most hirers by their very nature supply a broad spread of equipment to diverse customers and so can steer towards the areas of greatest opportunity. Indeed, HSS last week reported that its improving revenue performance “is testament to our diversified customer base and exposure to so many end-user markets”.
7. Going green. The UK government’s commitment to be net carbon zero by 2050 will see massive infrastructure investment to serve battery and hydrogen powered vehicles, requiring a lot of construction activity. And as all organisations seek carbon footprint reductions, the demand for eco-friendly equipment will be huge and long-term.
8. More from less. With equipment demand so high, hirers have shown their abilities to manage their fleets with great efficiency. Many companies with long waiting lists are turning equipment round very rapidly which is a testament to their personnel. And if demand is high, there should be no discussion about rate reductions – the main issue for the customer should be availability.
9. New technology. Nothing stays the same. There are always new opportunities, and not just from products to hire out. Telematics reports can enable users to achieve emission and cost reductions, while software systems now allow hirers to record – and charge for – damage, keeping costs in check.
10. Top people. Above all, a hire company’s chief asset is its people. As in so many other organisations, hire professionals at all levels have been performing heroically throughout a time of unprecedented challenge. With such talent and determination, any bumps in the road ahead should be withstood.
Photo: King G/Pixabay