WHERE WE ARE
WE ARE ALL HOLDING OUR BREATHS, LITERALLY, FOR A BREAK IN THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CLIMATE FOR A CHANGE
You will be excused if you are concerned in regards to the status of forestry today. We are facing some uphill climbs, and no ether machines are available for the hills we face.
The economy is not the best and it seemed that at the end of last year it was only the Canadian forestry that faced this uphill battle, but with recent events in the economy due to oil pricing and the Corona Virus scare, things have suddenly become a global crisis.
Is it fair to call it a crisis? It depends on how you look at things. It seems that global exports have come to a screeching halt as most who are effected are no longer buying homes, importing wood products and the prospects for this to change does not seem to appear on the horizon.
Most dealers will hold stock of machines for their customers. It is expected of them to service you the end user. Because no one seems to be purchasing at the moment stock levels are sitting tight and slow movements for this is predicted. The follow on effect for those who manufacture these machines are detrimental with some manufacturers who usually manufacture 40 machines a month are down to one a week.
Manufacturers are on a very slow productions schedule and some have halted production of machines. So how does this effect you in the forest though? When production halts it would be obvious that staff would have to be let go due to a lack of cash flow in the business itself. The first to go is production staff as they would be most likely the ones who are not needed at times like these.
Design engineers are next in line but they are to some degree protected by the slow down, but only slightly depending on how long this cycle is predicted to go on for.
Engineers will most likely only work on projects that have been approved before and which is deemed important and urgent to lower the cost of repairs and warranty claims.
Hang in with this article as we paint the full picture of what is eminent to happen.
Logging crews are effected due to low order numbers from mills as we all know. This will effect every single logger out there and few are spared from this slow down. Staff are either laid off or are on standby with reduced weekly hours.
Very few technological breakthroughs can be expected from manufacturers unless they have deep pockets to keep funding these projects. What we see today is likely what we will see next year. This means it is pretty save to purchase a machine today if the only reason why you are waiting for a new machine was that you were waiting for new technology to come your way.
Dealers will have to deal with stock that sit in their inventory but the good thing for logging crews will be that most dealers will look at servicing machines and finally you may see some service trucks making their way to your site to start working on long overdue service requests.
For staff in the forestry industry, if you are able to take a pay cut or if your crew owner has some extended cash reserves you should be safe.
One thing we will all see is a complete change in the landscape of forestry. Staff changes, companies changing hands and some companies taking advantage of the situation to surpass their competitors.
What you can do in each sector:
Dealers: There has never been a better opportunity than now to have team meetings on how you can improve internal communication, communication with your customers and how to serve your customers quicker and better.
Take advantage of the slow down because your competitors will feel the same pinch as you and you have the opportunity to now serve customers that you normally will not have an opening to serve. Customers are searching for solutions and you may just have the answer for them.
Manufacturers: Do not slow down on technological breakthroughs. Although funds are always reserved for projects aimed at reducing warranty claims in times like this, you may just leap to the front with specific projects that will improve your machine above and beyond that of your competitors. This is also a fantastic time to restructure things within your company to ensure you can serve your dealers better.
Crews: This is the best time to service your machines, look for new dealers who can service you better and maybe shop around for new staff. Having a mindset of preparation for better times to come is by far the winning strategy.
This slow down will not continue forever. The oil pricing will recover and the Corona Virus will be contained. We have every bit of technology available to us to do this. The one thing that technology cannot do is to help how you focus during these times and what you focus on during these times. My personal advice: Always focus on and prepare for a better outcome, always, because we have always come out better on the other side of a slow down – ALWAYS!
– MLM –
KEEP THE CREW HEALTHY
IT WILL NOT BE NEWS THAT THE CORONA VIRUS HAS EVERYONE IN A STATE OF PANIC AT THE MOMENT.
sHOULD YOU PANIC AND WHAT TO DO FOR YOUR CREW AND WITHIN CREWS?
We have no doubt that every person on planet earth has heard about the Corona Virus. It is partly to blame for the global slow down and is also playing a part in the deaths of so many across the globe.
We do say – playing a part – for good reason. Most of those who have died have died from underlying conditions. However – please do not take the virus itself lightly as it spreads very easily.
This article is not a medical report but we do feel that it is an important message to share. This has more to do on how you can protect yourself and your crew than anything else.
We are all scared out of our wits with this virus especially seeing all the news reports, how Italy has shut down completely and how it is having an effect on our lives across the globe.
But should you be scared. The correct words to use hear is to be careful more than anything else. I do believe that we have received a little bit of a nudge to look after our health a bit more especially our hygiene.
We realize that most of us in crews wake up extremely early in the morning and head out to the forest. Most of our families are still asleep when we leave home and therefor we try to make things as quiet as possible for them so that they can enjoy a few more hours of sleep. This is what most loving parents do for families
A word of warning here though:
It should be noted that because we do these things, sneak out of the home silently, sometimes we let go of that all important morning shower to try and keep things quiet for the family. We want to urge all loggers to do the morning shower routine for the sake of improving personal health. It may be made fun off mentioning this but you have been in contact with strangers, family and others who are in contact with others who may have a common cold or other infectious diseases. All these diseases are not killers but they do affect our health. Make that shower in the morning your first line of defense for your coworkers. It is not about the smell, but about the hygiene.
Make it two:
Why not make it two showers a day instead of just one. Most of you already shower when you get home but why not make this a ritual, before you hug etc your family, make yourself the first line of defense against flu etc for your family and take a shower before you hug and greet the family.
It may seem extreme but you have just been to the forest, shaking hands and sharing equipment with others who sneeze, scratch body parts etc and you are now going to get in physical contact with those you love.
I do not care what others think of me, what is important to me is my family and giving them the best version of me. That means making sure that I keep them healthy by upgrading my own personal hygiene routine.
In the forest:
Most of us share a ride with a group of other loggers to our work place. Do whatever you can to make that vehicle free from germs. You are only assuming that others follow the same hygiene routine as you. Never assume things. Make sure that when you get into a shared vehicle that you keep yourself healthy. Wear a face mask, not just to protect you but protect others from anything you may have. Again, this may seem extreme but I think when you pay is being cut due to sick leave you will realize that doing whatever you can to stay healthy, regardless of how extreme, is worth the effort.
Wipe all shared surfaces with an alcohol wipe before the trip. Anything you can do to reduce the potential spread of germs will help.
In the forest: If you share a machine or equipment with others, make sure you wipe the machine and any surface that is shared down with alcohol wipes. Most viruses spread through touch. Some share machines and equipment during shift work and you never know if the other person has left you a clean machine, equipment or tools to use. Always assume that the other person has not wiped the machine or equipment clean before handing it over to you. It is a lot better to wipe it down twice than assuming it has been done but it was not.
When you are done with using your equipment and that goes for any equipment including hand tools, do your team mate a favour and wipe it down. We always look after each other and this should not be any different.
When can you stop?:
Many times we get scares like this and we up our game a bit in defending ourselves from a virus etc. But why not make this a part of your work ethic. Wipe machines cabs, tools and equipment with alcohol wipes before you use them and when you are done with them.
There is nothing better in life than knowing that a habit is continued and a part of your life because you are giving others the best version of you. Make sure that this becomes a part of how you treat others and do things in life.
Up the game with personal hygiene. This will keep you, your family and your crew healthy and productive.
– MLM –
Not all viruses are deadly!
Some instigate a chain of events that make them powerful in crippling our health, making it impossible to be productive.
Keep a safe distance from those with signs of a cold etc. Do what you can, what you need and be the first to make an effort. It is not about what others do or don’t do. It is not about discrimination when you wipe a surface. Do not take offence when someone wipes something down when you have touched it. They are helping themselves the same way you help yourself.
THE YEAR 2020
We are all
the need for
We are all dependent on one thing, the need for wood.
Every single person reading this has some role they play in the forestry industry. When you read this you need to know that there are others, like you, maybe doing the same you do, maybe doing something different, who also depend on this industry. We all want to get to the other side of things. The other side is not just hoping that this industry will survive, but actually to make a living out of what we do, to support our families, to pay our debts and hopefully fulfill some dreams.
To be able to be successful with whatever you want to achieve in the end we also need to be prepared with whatever 2020 will hold. Not only to prepare ourselves but also to make sure that we can use every opportunity that comes our way so that we indeed, fulfill each of our own personal dreams.
First, let’s look at the state of the forestry industry today. To do this we need to look at the demand for wood first.
Wood as we know is used for so many things, one of them being housing. Keep in mind that the housing industry will not find another resource to replace the wood needed to build houses. The industry will slow down, maybe, but the demand will be there for years to come.
Not only to prepare ourselves but also to make sure that we can use every opportunity that comes our way so that we indeed, fulfill each of our own personal dreams.
First, let’s look at the state of the forestry industry today. To do this we need to look at the demand for wood first.
Wood as we know is used for so many things, one of them being housing. Keep in mind that the housing industry will not find another resource to replace the wood needed to build houses.
The industry will slow down, maybe, but the demand will be there for years to come.
As some may know, some mills have closed down in Canada due to environmental stresses etc.
The reasons are varied but it is our reality today.
Yes, some of us will suffer because of the closing down of mills and the changing forestry industry in the North of Canada. For many though, and also for some who is suffering this setback, this may be an opportunity to create and secure success for 2020.
Keep an open mind? Keep in mind what we said in the beginning.
The housing industry will not stop, it may slow down due to the lack of wood supply from the North of Canada but that wood supply will now start to come from other areas across Canada, the USA, Europe etc.
So how what does this mean for us?
It means growth in a similar proportion as to how it slowed down in the North of Canada in areas that were neglected before. If you are a logger elsewhere other than the North of Canada, know that wherever you are the industry will now grow in your area.
For those who are caught up in the areas of the slowdown: – there will still be some forestry operations albeit less.
You either need to reassess if you need to move or do something new. It is a sad truth but we all knew that this was going to happen to some degree at some stage in our careers.
Now the reality – things will grow but we need to understand something – as an industry we need to do things differently.
those of us who work with machinery, in logging teams and in other areas of forestry.
We now know and we had this experience before, things can change very quickly. This fact is one catalyst for the stress that many go through as we are all aware that we will have hanging debts that needs to be paid.
Most of those caught in the slow down have debts to repay but it is important to know that it will be possible to repay with some rework on how this can be done on their part. Stress on their part would have been a lot less if they did not have those debts – it is an obvious statement – but we who are not in their shoes can learn from this experience.
Life in itself is better when we have taken care of our basic needs – security being the first.
The best security you can give yourself is the security that whatever happens, your family will be okay.
Make a plan and pay your debts. Focus on doing a good job, increasing your knowledge in what you do and being a positive team member wherever you are.
It is time to do a better job at what you do. For a long time, some companies only looked after the Canadian industry because for the most part that is where your income came from.
Other parts were, not necessarily ignored, but put on a lower priority list. Today you are dependent on these sectors to keep you going and to hopefully grow your business once again.
Learn that we are all important, every single customer and dealer that you have ever sold a machine to.
Support all sectors, not just where your immediate income comes from. Start to trust your dealers when they ask for help or make suggestions.
Learn that 90% of your designs comes from dealers who deal with your customers daily.
dealerships and those working in dealerships.
A few sides to this. You are in a big way dependent on the support that you receive from manufacturers. This is to some degree not completely in your control. What are in your control are the staff you have and the customers that you have.
Ensure that all your staff are well trained, that they work in teams and they leave their ego’s at the door. Every single person in your dealership should focus on one thing – teamwork that result in excellent customer service.
Your dealerships growth depends on this in such a big way that you can no longer ignore it and it should be a priority for any business to get staff to start working together to deliver this service. The next thing to think about: Stop holding on to promises from your suppliers that solutions and backup are coming but while you wait for this to happen your customers and your good name suffers.
You cannot afford to have bad service from a supplier so how do you overcome this?
Look at other products that can be sold. The best strategy is to have more than one supplier for a product in a sector. This will ensure you get the best service from both providers as they will know that for them to survive or grow their businesses they have no choice but to look after you.
If a manufacturer let you down with a lack of service, training or stock, do not be scared to make a switch to another product.
When we do our dealership training sessions there is one answer that comes back every single time from one question: What do your customers want?
The answer – service.
This service can come in machine setup, spare parts and backup service after a sale. The brand of product is always named second.
Yes some of your clients will hold fast to using only specific brands of products but they will soon change when they see other brands being more reliable due to your service.
When you look at the rise of new products in the forestry sector and how and why they made such an impressive entry you will find that every single time there is one definitive reason as to why they were able to outsell more well known brands – SERVICE.
Service wins in weight over any brand name.
You have this in your hands, in your control. Set things in place to be able to service your clients. Your clients and your staff all want the same thing. To be able to do what they do and they can only do this if they have the service they deserve.
Your business should be in the reorder business – where your teams provide such impressive services that none of your clients will ever leave you, but instead always reorder machines. Only when you reach this point can you honestly say you are prepared for 2020.
If you know you can improve on your service and some departments just do not seem to be integrated to enable you to provide the service you know can be deliver, then arrange training.
Use some finances that you have reserved for advertising and spend this on training your teams to work as an integrated team, to deliver the service your clients deserve.
This way you are creating the best advertising that exist – word of mouth.
Focus on growth, how to develop your teams, how to provide a better service and you will win.
Your customers will win, your staff will win and ultimatly you will have a winning strategy.
What is the point of advertising your company if your company do not deliver the service you advertise. If you did you would not need to advertise because your current customers will do the advertising for you – through word of mouth.
We will make our fortunes by the one thing this world need, wood, through providing what our industry needs – service.
– MLM –
what everyone wants.
Every single person who walks planet earth wants to have the assurance that tomorrow has been taken care of.
That whatever happens to us today will not destroy years of hard work or investments that has been made. That is the dream for so many business owners as well.
We are however living in an ever changing world. A world where things can change quickly and nothing is guaranteed to last forever. It is this certainty that things will change that fills us with uncertainty and this incredible search for security.
During the last few months we have experienced yet another setback in forestry, especially in the North of Canada, that proves this point.
Mills are closing and contractors are left with machines that they have no use for.
Manufactures are over stocked and are letting staff go as production figures have drastically fallen to record low numbers. Guaranteeing success is becoming increasingly difficult but there are so many things that we can do to ensure that our futures are taken care of.
Taken care of is not used in terms of guaranteeing that you will enjoy the same income levels or sales of machines compared to when things are going well.
What it does mean is that you will be able to support yourself, your staff and whatever you do in the forestry industry until the market either returns to sustainable levels or you have found other resources to sustain your income, whether it be new markets to explore or new contracts with mills.
But what can you do to secure some certainty in an uncertain market, especially knowing that things will change and not always for the better?
10 steps to
be SET FOR
keep your ear on the ground at all times.
Listen to what is being said in the market place. We all have contacts in this market and we are all individuals with enough experience to know when a down turn is coming.
ensure you run your business lean.
Do not purchase machines based on today’s market values or a promise of success. Build your base first and ensure that whatever happens that you will be able to pay your debt with either an insurance that covers for a loss of work or cash. There is a saying that if you cannot purchase it twice you cannot afford it.
Do not put all your eggs in one basket or your faith that one crew will be able to sustain you. Spread your risk and have crews in different areas.
If you can, have your crews work for different mills wherever possible. This will ensure that if one mill has a turn for the worst the other will be able to sustain you.
This option also lends itself to the possibility of moving your crews to the other if things turn sour.
Do not put all your eggs in one basket or your faith that one crew will be able to sustain you. Spread your risk and have crews in different areas.
have an exit strategy in place.
Have a specific goal in your mind that you will have all your machines paid before a set period of time. This reduces your risk of going bankrupt.
Even though we do feel that each employee should have his or her own plan in place – do have a strategy or savings plan in place where you will be able to pay staff a fair departure salary in case that you have to close shop for a while or you need to reduce your staff levels.
keep your options open.
Never have a negative relationship with other mill owners just because you are supplying one specific mill. You never know when the mill you are currently supplying closes its doors and you may need to knock on a door that you closed in haste.
network with other logging crews.
Never have a negative relationship with other mill owners just because you are supplying one specific mill.
You never know when the mill you are currently supplying closes its doors and you may need to knock on a door that you closed in haste. You may have to sell your equipment to them, or you may want to help your staff look for work elsewhere.
This may also help if you want to subcontract to another crew for a while to keep your machines operating.
never give up
Be willing to move if the need is there to see yourself through the dry times. Look for markets that need crews, but never give up.
This ties in with a previous point – network.
Network in other markets so that if you need to move to another market area you already have a foot in the door.
Attend shows in these area and ensure you meet other mill owners or forest managers.
This may come in handy if you want to expand your business as well, not just during hard times.
Align yourself with service and not a brand name.
The one thing that keeps you going is your machines – regardless of the brand. Deal with companies where each department, the sales or after sales service all give you the same excellent service. If you sense there is no teamwork from your supplier to give you service – look for another.
These are simple steps, in your control, to help you set yourself up for success.
A business is similar to a living organism. It needs to be fed motivation, money, time and effort in order to keep it growing. Once you have started a business it becomes more about managing your cash flow, machines, production and people than anything else.
One aspect of the business will always be people. There is no way you can get away from this fact and the sooner we learn how to manage this part of the business well, the better our businesses will run, not just now but also in the future. One thing that very few of us keep in mind when managing people though is the fact that the people working for you now may leave one day. Some we want to leave sooner than later and others we want to stay. What you need to keep in mind though is that every individual that you have in your current employment will have an impact on your business, not just while they are employed but also when they leave. It is with this mind-set that you need to manage people.
As a business owner stress is a natural by-product. The business can be good, but there is always something that needs to be managed in some way or another.You have cash flow to manage, machines needing repair, staff not turning up for work and then to have to deal with an employee who may not seem to be a part of the team… that is the last thing anyone wants to deal with.
How you handle this employee or any other employee for that matter is extremely important though.
How many times have you heard a new employee tell you things about a previous employer that does not paint a pretty picture? This does not just happen when you hire employees but this also happens when others hire employees who worked for you but left.
These individuals will not just tell their new employers about how you manage, how you run your business or how you do things, they also tell the new team mates about how you are as a manager.And this point is key though because employees from other crews will also leave their employment and seek new employment.
Where do you think they will go? To an employer who they heard is unfair, unjust and flies of the handle for no apparent reason? Or to the one who have always kept a calm persona and made every discussion about the task and not the person?
What about that one person that you want to attract to your team? He will also hear about your management style, regardless of what is being said about you is true, exaggerated or invented by a disgruntled ex employee.
If you are able to remove emotions that is negative or signs of frustration from any conversation that you have with an employee and make it purely about the task at hand then you prevent the whole discussion becoming a personal one from both ends.
The employee will understand that he is not achieving the goals you have set for this particular position and it has nothing to do with him or her as a person as such.
When you raise your voice during any discussion or show frustration with an employee, the employee will assume the conversation to be a personal attack instead of realizing that he or she is just not up to the task at hand.
When this person leaves eventually, and most of them eventually do, they leave feeling that you are a fair person and will feel thankful that you gave them an opportunity, but unfortunately they just did not have the skill set needed for the task.
Managing people this way, will have a positive effect on your business, not just now, but also in the future.
– MLM –
– GOING –
– BIG –
Is going big the right move
In a world where we constantly compete against our neighbours and ever increasing demands on money, is going big the right move.
Is going big the right move?
Remember back in the day when you worked in a crew and you dreamed about having your own crew?
When you were at that point you wanted to go bigger for specific reasons.
One of those reasons was to
increase your income to be able to provide more opportunities for your family and loved ones while doing what you love to do –
Here is another thing to consider.
When you started out in the forestry business you loved going to work, the fresh air, freshly cut wood and camaraderie in the team you worked in. You loved logging and being part of a team doing what you love.
Our love for the forest is what makes us loggers in the first place. You knew at that point owning a crew would give you a bigger income but at the same time you will still be able to enjoy the same things – logging and working in or with a crew.
It is these things and all of these things, your initial reason for
starting a crew and also being able to do what you love, that we need to take into consideration before going bigger.
How will this change your life if you have more than one crew?
If you go bigger, then yes you will achieve a higher financial income but everything has a price.
You may be able to provide more in terms of financial stability etc but you may lose something else that is more valuable and that is time with loved ones. Are you going to sacrifice time with loved ones for the sake of growing bigger?
You may also lose the love for what you do as you will have to increase the time you spend
running your business.
When you go back to the reason why you initially wanted to start your first crew and then evaluate why you want to go bigger, your decisions might be wiser than just looking at the financial benefit it may bring.
The only time when it is honestly
a good decision to go bigger is when you have a plan on how to increase the size of your business
in such a way that you will be able to do everything that is needed to be done without sacrificing time with loved ones or losing the
opportunity to enjoy being a