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Back to business: How Three Blue Ducks are preparing for eased restrictions

3-minute read

If your business is resuming as a result of eased restrictions, you may be wondering how you’ll fare. Three Blue Ducks operations manager Paul Dewhurst shares some financial tactics to help.

Key take-outs
  • Monitoring your outgoings helps contain costs while times are tight
  • Continuing to make repayments can put you in a stronger position long-term
  • In uncertain times, it’s sensible to adjust your financial forecasts regularly

The easing of restrictions in some states has enabled thousands of businesses to start opening up again. But supply chain disruption, altered demand for products and services, and ongoing uncertainty about the virus and the economy makes financial forecasting and planning a challenge. Three Blue Ducks’ operations manager Paul Dewhurst talks about the tactics he’s using to keep the well-known hospitality business moving in the right direction.

Monitoring outgoings

Knowing exactly where funds are being spent is prudent practice in good times – and essential in bad. Monitoring the bills helps Three Blue Ducks keep its outgoings as low as possible, as the business continues to welcome customers back to its venues. “I’m not an accountant but I am across all the invoices, comparing delivery fees, asking why we’re paying one price for something at one of our restaurants and more at another,” Dewhurst says. “We need to make sure – even more so than usual – that we are streamlining our purchases and getting the best value for money.” 

 

Prioritising expenditure has also become critical. “There are some things such as maintenance and business improvements where we’d ordinarily spend money without thinking, but now we have to say, ‘We’ll wait and do it next month’, Dewhurst explains. That’s why Dewhurst analyses the cash flow at Three Blue Ducks daily. “Everything is very finely balanced.”

Keeping up with payments

It can be tough to get back in the black when you fall behind on bills. Continuing to meet your commitments, even when times are tight, puts you in a better position when things pick back up. While cash reserves dropped dramatically during the initial shutdown phase, Three Blue Ducks continued to pay suppliers regularly and made advance superannuation contributions. Striving to stay ahead is a focus for them, particularly while the business remains supported by JobKeeper. 

 

“A lot of companies have suspended payments like rent and electricity but the last thing we want is to get six months down the track and still have all these things outstanding because we kicked the can down the road,” Dewhurst says. Three Blue Ducks secured a $250,000 loan under the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme to aid business recovery, but they hope to hold off on spending the funds as normal service resumes. “We want to be in a strong position, with as few debts and accounts payable as possible, when government assistance ceases,” Dewhurst reiterates.

Planning for a range of scenarios

Projecting your turnover is an essential aspect of running a business but, in COVID times, it can be a tricky affair. Monitoring your numbers each week and adjusting your forecasts accordingly can help you stay abreast of how you’re travelling. “We’re doing this conservatively, based on current trading figures,” Dewhurst says. “Everything is so uncertain at the moment, so we just take it as it comes and don’t get ahead of ourselves.”

 

Meanwhile, creating reports that show the company’s monthly performance, with and without the JobKeeper subsidy, helps the leadership team see how the business is likely to fare after support is withdrawn.

 

For some, the easing of restrictions spells good news for those itching to return to business as usual. Careful financial planning and management will help you navigate the post-pandemic economy and position your business for recovery and growth.

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Things you should know

This article is a general overview and should be used as a guide only. We recommend that you seek independent professional advice about your specific circumstances before acting.