I extend my concern to clients and colleagues in the property industry.
The news reports today make bleak reading – Persimmon the housebuilder reported that it was shedding 2,000 jobs (40% of its work force) and suffered an 80% fall in its share price. Taylor Wimpey reported the loss of 900 jobs. And then there are the continuing reports about the troubles at Bradford & Bingley which has over 50% of its £40bn mortgage book in the buy-to-let market. Even the mighty Savills, which ought to be cushioned at the top end of the luxury residential market, says that sales in the capital are down 45% on last year. Merrill Lynch warned that house prices would fall 17% in the next year. The RICS reported that the average number of transactions per surveyor (over the last three months) is now at 17.4, the lowest figure since 1978.
Closer to home I have had emails from two colleagues in leading commercial property services firms advising that they are amongst those being made redundant from their firms. Amongst my legal clients many of those in the residential conveyancing departments are seeing their work flow completely dry up and a 23% fall in remortgages means that this source of work offers little hope. And the law firms are already facing the seismic shifts in their market caused by the recent Legal Services Act – with the experts predicting the impact of the imminent changes to be the loss of 4,000 legal practices.
But the writing was on the wall. Did people think that it was possible for the massive house price increases to continue forever? I am no property expert but houses near me experienced a massive 25% appreciation in value in just two years – it simply wasn’t sustainable and price correction was inevitable. HM Treasury reported that there were 1.86m property transactions during 2006-2007 and it was noted at the time that this was the highest level since just before the property crash of 1988 – so the writing was on the wall for those who choose to read it and take early action.
But hindsight is always right. So what about the firms that are now pushed to the brink of destruction? When we look to the management experts we can consider the hard steps Slatter suggested for “turnaround” situations: Gain full control of the situation – this includes communication with the key stakeholders (including the bank) to establish credibility. Then there is the assessment (and replacement if necessary) of the present management and advisers. The business then must be fully evaluated. The first pass means identifying applying the pareto principle of finding the 20% of the factors that are having 80% of the impact to allow management to focus effort and develop appropriate action plans and implement organisational change immediately. Identifying the most profitable clients, services and teams is critical. Retained staff must be motivated. Budgeting and control systems must be installed – with central weekly cash flow information and the chief executive signing off all capital and revenue expenditure. And then consideration of other strategies such as merger or diversification.
To support this, Grinyer’s “Sharpbenders” analysis showed that the most common actions by those most successful in turnaround situations included: major changes in management, stronger financial controls, new product-market focus, improved marketing, intense effort to reduce production costs and windfalls. адмирал х казино онлайн играть