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This week, we've been talking to the lovely Wendy Bartlett MBE from Bartlett Mitchell about what it is like running a business in the Corona Virus Lockdown.

For those of you who haven't met Wendy. She is the Executive Chairman of the hugely respected Bartlett Mitchell, an award winning catering business covering London and the South East.

Here are her thoughts on lockdown life. 

 

Nikki "What is life like running a business in these very unique circumstances?"

Wendy "It’s nothing like you would have imagined. And if we had, no one would have believed us. If I had said "I’m going to work from home for a month and not go out" -  you would have thought I was joking and being completely unrealistic. So apart from short trips out for ‘emergencies‘ or ’exercise’ I have stayed at home."

Teamwork delivers

The first weeks were frenetic. Led by Ian Thomas our CEO and Francois our superstar MD, the senior team pulled out all the stops for clients. They delivered miracles and worked to find rapidly-changing solutions as the implications of the virus became clear.

It took a while for reality to kick in and for everyone to understand what a catering 'lockdown' involved. It varied from reducing offers, altering and then eventual closure for most. We have definitely earned our fee during this period.  It has been much harder co-ordinating, communicating, organising and delivering each site's personal needs. Reassuring furloughed team members to ensure everyone gets a consistent and trustworthy message is a big task.

A test of true values

I have been most impressed with the comradeship I have seen at bartlett mitchell. Everyone is working together and trying to work out what to do for the best. Clients, in the main, have also been supportive and caring about the teams. This is a testament to the strength of the partnerships we have formed with our clients and consultants.

I believe that clients will remember how organisations have behaved towards their teams and clients during the CVD crisis. This will be the true test of values. The loyalty of customers and teams alike will dictate survival.

Keep calm and carry on

There is much to worry about, and I’m sure be unhappy about. But  it's been the British stiff upper lip spirit - carry on as best you can, that has come through. There is blame and claim on the 'shoulds’ and 'woulds’, but in the main people have been positive, helpful, calm and caring . It’s a nice strength to have in a difficult time as a nation.

Lessons learnt

  • Even when I am at home all day I still have a growing list! (Also learnt that my partner Douglas doesn’t get the point of lists so he ignores them)
  • It’s better to focus on one or two things and complete them- with so much to do you get distracted.
  • Communicate. Stay in touch and make sure your team see you. Be visible and be there for them to give comfort and reassurance.
  • Small things in life give great enjoyment, like finding something in the supermarket. Who would have thought we could get so excited over a bag of flour and yeast or that exact loaf we like.
  • I can hear the birds sing in my garden much more now.
  • There are some truly amazing people in the world.  I hope when this is over we remember and appreciate them, from the NHS to the bin men.
  • I am in awe of our team, especially those that continue to work. Such commitment, common-sense and care.
  • Community is still there - we lost it temporarily while we were being busy.
  • The #bmfamily team are mad for baking. Our internal comms are full of pictures of baking. Even at home they live the #foodies values
  • A sense of humour is needed in most situations. The team have shared the funniest photos, quotes and all sorts.
  • I really love our team - they inspire me every day
  • I remember how to cook!

 

 

Thank you Wendy for sharing your thoughts with us and giving us an insight into life at Bartlett Mitchell during the lockdown. 

If you are revising your catering offering and are looking for a company with "fresh ideas" which will make your tummy rumble, then please contact 

Michelle Jugessur, Business Development michelle@bartlettmitchell.co.uk   07973683077 and tell them you saw them on the Hexagon FM Blog

 

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Published in Blog

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As the pressure to close-down any construction based sites grows, as it becomes evermore evident that in reality it is practically impossible to maintain a constant 2m distance between colleagues and the supply chain provision becomes harder as companies withdraw services, the healthcare priority will go hand in hand with the economic reality.

Closing down live construction sites which are under contract with clients to meet quality, time and budget, in order to comply with unclear Government instruction will undoubtedly lead to a heavy reliance upon Force Majeure clauses and compliance with them.

The immediate impact will be two fold - contractors will be keen to secure as much cash as possible from clients to counter their wage bills as even with a Government subsidy there will be a time lag in cash receipts, and secondly some clients will take the opportunity to hold onto cash for their own cashflow or in bad practice cases, where they suspect the contractor may not survive a long period of no work.

For those contractors and indeed sub-contractors that do survive I can only foresee a boom time for lawyers and QS's as they try and unpick the contractual clauses as to what notices should have been served when, in what format and to whom.

The Construction/Facilities industry model was broken before the outbreak of the Corona Virus with contractor's large and small, desperate to grow turnover at the cost of margin and consequently suffering when slow  cashflow exposed high levels of risk that had been taken on. Similarly clients have just been as eager to continue to accept lowest cost tenders despite all the sentiment and the Latham / Egan reports on the need to share risk, adopt a partnering approach and accept that contractors need regular cashflow and to make a margin.

Whilst the Government have pushed the need to adopt the Fair Payment Code what this doesn't reflect is the timescale taken by clients and main contractors, to agree what can be invoiced. Whilst the contracts are normally quite clear on these timescales they are commonly abused as the complexity of pursuing a breach for non-payment is usually costly and a last resort unless all relationships between the parties have broken down.

The Corona Virus has now only added another and potentially larger dimension to this scenario as no one can forecast accurately when we will return to some level of normality nor indeed what position the economy will be in.

One thing is for sure, there will inevitably be causalities of this period large and small, however as the world is  showing us at the moment whilst it performs its own correction as to how humans have messed up the ecology of the planet, just as in nature, there will be new chutes and maybe, a new way of working in the Construction/Facilities industry going forward.

We can only hope it is for the better.   


Blog kindly submitted to Hexagon FM by Ian Dunning 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Blog

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