Julian Shine: Playbook strategy means “we can quickly adapt” to the current crisis

Julian Shine crop
Shine Catering Systems’ MD Julian Shine has put in place a business strategy which effectively renews an annual fixed budget once a month.

FEA’s webinar last Friday (24 April) on “A playbook for recovery” from the coronavirus crisis, saw Shine Catering Systems’ MD, Julian Shine, detail to the more than 50 attendees how following the recommendations of the event’s speaker, business advisor, Martyn Drake, has stood the Newport-based distributor in good stead.

Binley Drake Consulting founder Drake set out the main principles of his ‘playbook’ strategy, describing it as “a methodology for dealing with uncertainty and for reacting far more quickly, and then rolling up those things into a full adaptive strategy”.

He revealed: “This is based on that concept of having choices and being able to move things around, and just being able to immediately see how those scenarios might play out for you economically.”

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As part of his work with businesses, Drake typically poses uncomfortable scenarios and asks the management teams how they would react to them. Shine reported to the webinar that this was exactly the methodology Drake employed when the Welsh distributor began working with the consultant about 7 months ago. “He did make us very uncomfortable on quite a few occasions,” Shine confirmed.

However, these methods have seemingly borne fruit during the coronavirus crisis, according to Shine: “We were probably previously fixated on the grand showpiece of a fixed annual budget, and then looking at the operational delivery diligently, monitoring attainment against budgeted figures. We then looked at corrective measures to take when we weren’t actually hitting those budgets.

“What this playbook model has given us is a much more dynamic strategy planning tool. We are able to much more rapidly change now our economic model to the changing economic circumstances. Our model is being changed on almost a weekly basis at the moment regarding the pressures that we’re seeing.

“Our dynamic model is made up of separate investment cases, each one proving its worth individually, and then looking at how this plugs into the overall model for the business. It gives us the overall ability now to re-establish whether the investment cases are the right thing for the moment or whether disinvestment cases should be looked at. But each of these scenarios can be plugged into our model and create a coherent whole for us.”

Shine concluded: “We’ve got justifiable actions all the time now relating to whether or not to furlough, how to engage with the restarting of sections to the business, and looking at some of the previously considered nightmare scenarios that Martyn forced upon us and realising that some of them are here. It’s almost like renewing your annual fixed budget once a month – it’s just a much more coherent tool.”

Drake picked up the discussion during the webinar, explaining that during this time of uncertainty: “It takes a different set of skills, mindset, approach, toolset and a different way of planning for the future. It’s really clear that what got you here over the last few years is not the same as what’s going to get you effectively through the next 18 months.

“You are going to have to change the way you apply your expertise over the next 18-24 months in order to really succeed through this process.”

He further mused whether this would lead to lead to more mergers and acquisitions in the catering equipment supply chain.

Earlier in the webinar, FEA chief executive Keith Warren detailed that the association is stepping up its efforts to support the industry in these times, including its latest letter to the Prime Minister this week, jointly authored with CEDA, requesting specific support aligned to the hospitality industry regarding business rate, furlough and debtor support.

Warren also reiterated that FEA will continue to provide regular updates and knowledge with the aim of helping businesses re-emerge effectively from this crisis.

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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