As we follow our roadmap out of lockdowns and restrictions, many firms are finding themselves depleted and ill-equipped to pick up where they left off. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. This is an ideal time to rethink and reset. A leaner staff base and less hectic orders book could be a good starting point for this process.
Times have changed – there will be no resumption of what things were like in 2019. No assumptions about demand and supply can be made, especially – for UK firms and their European partners – when the implications of Brexit are thrown into the mix, too. This is a perfect opportunity for firms to change who they are and what they do, to redefine their operational perimeters. Owners and managers must move past established ways and focus on the new landscape, which will continue to shift.
That could mean finding more flexibility in choosing suppliers, based on what is available and where, not just for an acceptable price but also in terms of that company’s attitude to doing business. Your willingness to take orders may depend on your confidence in that relationship. So many garment retailers, in particular, let down the coloration industry during the disruptions of the pandemic, refusing to pay for goods not able to be delivered within strict timescales. We cannot see a continuation of this.
Environmental sustainability will be crucial, too. We know that making the right choices to protect the planet and its resources is not just a matter for the multinationals – we must all do our share in terms of refining methods, choosing the least harmful dyestuff, and picking who we want to collaborate with. Working smarter following the pandemic will include savvy use of technology and a commitment to keeping up to date with new options. We can now all see the benefits of video calls for face-to-face meetings rather than half a day spent on the road, but are we all making the most of things like digital colour matching systems that negate the need to send physical samples around the world?
All of this is underpinned by technical knowhow. A company cannot achieve excellence in procurement, sustainability, or stakeholder management without great colour chemists at the core of operations – able to innovate and find reliable solutions to ever-evolving challenges.
Now is the time to invest in talent, allowing technicians the time to learn on the job – and encouraging specialists at all levels to network and keep their skills and knowledge current. It’s evident that there is a global shortage of qualified dyers and colourists – so setting out to ‘growing your own’ will put forward-thinking businesses ahead of the curve, and best placed to thrive and prosper in the uncertain years ahead.