If all the world’s a stage, as a great literary mind once said, then are we in the golf industry learning anything from the theatre of the absurd that is going on around us?
The Big Three automakers went to Congress last week to plead for a $25-billion bailout of their industry and were told, quite frankly, to get their acts together. In these tough economic times, even the high and mighty have to be accountable.
Even with their warnings of potential bankruptcy and the scary prediction of a depression, executives of the Big Three flew to Washington on private jets, so there is still a swagger and an apparent disregard for taxpayers from these suits with their hands out.
As they go about putting together the viable business plan that has been requested by Congress, executives will be reminded that many automakers were not prepared for the onset of the skyrocketing fuel prices that struck this summer or other factors that have threatened the existence of these once-mighty giants.
Meanwhile, unions representing auto workers have said that they won’t make any concessions with their gold-plated wages and benefits packages, even though high labour costs are recognized as a big contributing factor to the struggling automakers’ problems, something union leaders deny.
Denial is the first line of defence for somebody whose familiar lifestyle is suddenly threatened by current events or changing times. As the auto industry has shown recently, ignore evolution and risk becoming a dinosaur.
The fact is that the auto industry should not have been surprised when all of this happened, albeit more quickly than anticipated due to the slow economy. It shouldn’t have taken a demand by Congress to motivate industry executives into formulating a sound business plan that is in step with the times.
The time in the golf industry is now the off-season, a perfect time to take note of current events in other sectors of the economy, for we can learn lessons from what is happening with the automakers.
The temptation might be to hide away while the snow flies and hope that the worst of the current economic turmoil has passed when the 2009 season starts.
If economic forecasts are correct, that won’t be the case, so golf businesses will be in a reactive situation – as it was with fuel prices and the weather this year – instead of the proactive situation they’re in right now, when forecasting and a good, honest look at their own business plans seem so essential going into ’09.
For example, gas prices have gone down considerably from the sky-high numbers that were posted just a few months ago, but does that mean we forget about it, or continue to try and conserve as much as possible in case there’s another spike up at the pumps or a spike down in revenue next year?
In places such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, where the economies have been relatively healthy, do they go with an all is well attitude, or expect a ripple effect with the states and provinces around them hurting?
Each business has its own unique set of challenges and forecasting four or five months down the road is difficult, but it’s important to be ready for different scenarios through study of your own budget and perhaps a meeting with a financial advisor or chartered accountant.
The headlines are telling us what can happen if we don’t look ahead. If all the world’s a stage, don’t be a player in the theatre of the absurd. Watch the people who are currently on the marquee and learn from the problems they face.