Planning might be easier if we knew what was in store in 2021


Here we are — the first article of the year for the first Building Today magazine of 2021. But to say Happy New Year and compliments of the season just doesn’t sound right, as you’ve probably been at work for four to six weeks already, and the holidays are long forgotten.

However, we still have roughly 46 weeks to look forward to and plan for, so don’t give up yet.

It would be much easier to plan for the year if we knew what was in store for us.

Most of the plans made 12 months ago never got off the ground because of March 25, 2020, and a wee bug that got more media coverage than Harry and Meg — which would have been a plus were it not so serious.

So do we have any idea what is in store? Yes and no. So do we plan or not bother, as it will all be guesswork? You know what — yes, bother, and make the effort.

This is what I have been going through with all my clients over the past month or so — plan for a non-Covid year and then plan a Covid contingency.

Having a contingency is still a bit hit and miss as we won’t know how long we may be affected or what help will be offered. The world is not making it easy, right?

Do we really need to plan? No, of course not, you can just keep doing what you have always done. Not much wrong with that — as long as it’s worked.

There is a saying that goes, “if you always do what you have always done you will always get the same result”.

If the same result is good enough, sweet, go for it. But if you want change then it will work a lot better with a plan in place. So yeah, get off your comfy couch and make a change in your comfortable life.

What else is out there that will screw around with any plans? Well, interest rates are a factor. They’re looking great (for borrowing) now, but if you borrow up large and then rates start to go up then cash flow will tighten.

Your costs will increase with the minimum wage increase — and even if you don’t have employees on wages that low, the ones you do have might come knocking for a dollar or more anyway.

Then we have the ever-increasing container problem and the supply of materials from overseas.

Even if they do finally land on our shores, the cost of container travel has increased, and there’s only one person who will be paying for that rise — you.

Or, if you’re lucky enough to have thought about inserting a relevant contingency into your building contracts, you may be able to pass that cost on to your client.

Then add to this the uncertainty that’s floating around, which you may have already encountered – a dead cert client who has a start date then says “we’re just going to wait and see . . .”

But wait, there’s more — top secret, inside info — the Marsden Point oil refinery is to stop refining oil and becoming an import storage farm — bottom line fuel prices will go up and up.

Okay, it’s not really a secret and, in reality, it’s probably a year or two away — but no one is factoring this in yet.

Here’s my take on planning for 2021 — do it, think big, have a Plan B when a possible lockdown hits, don’t bank on another pay out, and — here’s the gold — stop spending and start saving.

Keep the purchase of the ute for another year, and a bigger boat doesn’t catch more fish.

Don’t get sucked into all the marketing about how cheap it is to buy right now. Have a nest egg just in case — the more cash you have if the brown stuff really hits the fan the better you will be. 

If the first two weeks of my return to work is anything to go by, it’s going to be a very big year. Have fun people.

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