As a company originating in The Great Depression, Pace Advertising has experienced war, market crashes, government sackings, recessions, hyper-inflation, terrorist threats, fires and floods.
Director Nicholas Heath says COVID-19 isn’t the first pandemic experienced by the business, having endured the Hong Kong Flu in 1968.
“We have a long corporate memory and we’ve learnt to survive in an industry that is famous for being short-lived,” he says.
“Sometimes you don’t get a choice. Some people are effectively shut down by this crisis. Some won’t be re-opening and for those businesses, we mourn.
“For the rest of us, we need to work harder and smarter. We are way out of our comfort zones right now.”
Nicholas, who is also an event director of Geelong Revival and chair of Geelong Museum of Motoring and Industry and former chair of Tourism Geelong, shares some tips on how businesses can adapt quickly to operating during coronavirus.
“To survive, start pulling the belt in as far as you can. You have more control over costs than revenues, so cut your cloth to suit.
“Delay planned capital works. Cut expenses to the bone. Take a very hard look at each expense and trim hard. Then cut again.
“Technology can be the key. Challenge how you do things. Preserve your key people – you will need them again soon.
“Roll with the changed circumstances. We’ve moved 80 per cent of our staff out of the office. We have stood down some people and moved our staff to three-quarters of normal hours.
“With the government’s help we’ll hopefully stand all our staff back up soon.”
Revenue and resources
“Once you’ve got your costs under control, fix the revenue side. Here’s where you need to get creative. If business is looking grim, look at your skill set and resources. What else can you do? Which parts of your business are still active? Push on all fronts and re-enforce success.
“This crisis will not just be about the virus – it will be about the effect it has on the economy in the longer term. This will impact us all for the next few years.
“Plan for a tough environment but remember there will be opportunity as we emerge.”
Nicholas remembers how hard Geelong was hit during the 1990s recession.
“We were in the worst- affected city in a badly-affected state in one of the hardest hit countries. Now the reverse is true.
“If I had to pick a country to be in right now, it would be Australia. Best performing state? Easy: Victoria. And the city to do it in? Well, Geelong would probably be my choice.
“Lucky we’re already here, huh?”