‘Who in coaching can predict the next 12 months?’

Coaching difficult to predict for 12 months

One of the biggest dangers to any business is uncertainty. If the short term doesn’t look positive, you can make cutbacks. On the flip side, if you are sure that the future is bright, you can do the opposite. But now, who is confident about how the next six to 12 months will pan out?

Part of me says batten down the hatches. Be wary of investment and unnecessary expense because there is a tsunami coming our way that will have a negative effect on how much profit we make next year.

The BBC website caught my eye. It was describing how schools may cut back on trips to free the budget for more critical things, like not having children freezing in winter. That may or may not happen, but when you add other factors, from utility costs and rising food and fuel prices to a genuine nervousness to spend on things that can be deemed non-essential, then it is understandable that operators may have a large whisky before signing an order form.

And yet, the emails and bookings tell a much different story, at least in the short term. Most of our customers are incredibly loyal, and I can set my watch by the same bookings each year. They are coming in as they always have, and price rises seem to be accepted without too much complaint.

Holiday and day trip bookings are flying. Negative experiences at airports and the cost of going overseas have helped. A fairly local operator closing down has given us access to even more work, and we seem to be able to cherry-pick the customers we want. The new schools we picked up during the summer term have stuck with us as well.

There are a lot of positive things happening. Perhaps I will order a new coach after all.

So what is it? Are we going through a ‘last days of Rome’ period, where people are throwing their last disposable cash around without too much worry before the cost of heating your home and putting food on the table really bites, or will things not be as bad as we fear?

All this makes it very difficult to plan and have a vision of where you and your business will be in 12 or 24 months. I don’t think I have known a period of such conflicting scenarios, and I am certainly not bright enough to put down in words what I think will happen to our sector during this period!

What I do know is that our industry will survive. Undoubtedly, it will be tough. Our own electricity bill has gone up by 256% and fuel remains way too high. Survive the industry will, though. It always does. Many times, I have heard rumour of the grim reaper at the coach and bus industry’s door. Digital tachographs to Driver CPC and PSVAR: We tend to see them off.

It might not be a lot of fun, but survive and – hopefully – thrive, you all will.