Covid and inTank

To be honest we have been very lucky. Working within the Distilling, Food, Pharmaceutical, Beverage and Brewery industry, our business although affected has not been completely shattered.

inTank Technologies have been trading since 2004 and are a small family business with huge ambition. inTank is run as a very lean business with the team prepared to multitask and go on and beyond the call of duty, which is often seen in small organisations. This attitude can sometimes be very different in large corporate organisations where there is a more personal focus of moving up the corporate ladder rather than thinking about what day the bin man is due. (must empty everyone’s bin) !! Our company ethos is ‘whatever it takes’. This underpins our attitude towards customers and colleagues. Since incorporation in 2004 the Directors have invested in the business and during these unprecedented times, this has given inTank Technologies financial security.

Over the past few months, it has been interesting to see just how many businesses live day-to-day. Any change in the economy can have a devastating/terminal affect on the business.

When a company retains the money in the business, this not only helps secures the future of all employees but also ensures that customers are able to rely on companies such as inTank to be able to continue to provide the services/ support they rely on to maintain their future during economically challenging times.

One of the challenges faced by inTank Technologies over the past 6 months has been, are we going to get paid by our customers ? Customer we have dealt with for many years, are they still going to be able to pay us for the equipment they have purchased ? Should we reduce the credit limit and potential alienate customers? We work with various credit rating agencies and check with Companies House. Previously this information gave us a good overview based over several years. More often than not this information can be a year out of date as accounts are filed yearly but nevertheless, it was an indication of the health of the business. We have looked at insurance to cover outstanding debt but now is not the time to take this out as a number of insurance companies are not taking on new customers and if they are, the cost of the insurance outweighs the potential value of loss. As a business we have been very lucky to work with companies that have honoured their commitments.

It has been interesting to see how few companies do retain the money in their businesses and over the past 6 months we have focused more on the historic financial security of businesses.  Have Directors been bleeding the company dry !! Or have they invested in the business for a rainy day ??

Probably like most similar businesses, we have had challenges which we were not necessarily expecting. For example, with the increased number of people ordering goods online, courier companies have had to employ unprecedented levels of temporary drivers, which has caused a huge challenge for us. With deliveries not being signed for (no POD’s), drivers on alien delivery routes and the additional volume of orders to be delivered, a large percentage of orders are being misrouted or completely lost with no tracking information available.

As a business we have now had to take the decision to take out additional insurance on all orders being dispatched. Previously, the additional cost of insuring the loss of orders, outweighed the cost of losing the order and having to replace it. Interestingly when an order is insured by the courier company, and in our case up to £5,000 per order, this certainly seems to focus the mind of the courier company to find the parcel. Without insurance you basically must wait 5 working days for the courier company to carry-out an ‘investigation’, to then be told the order is lost and you can claim up to £60 !! (as a standard)

The lesson we have learnt is to insure all customer orders.

We still currently have a couple of our team on Furlough, but this is mainly due to customers not able to have our technical sales team on site but also, we have seen a reduction in customer enquiries. On a more positive note, we are now seeing customers requesting site visits and an increase in enquires, which must be good news.

I asked my colleague today, what she felt has been the biggest impact on the business? Interestingly she mentioned it was the additional work pressure dealing with all the enquiries on top of all the day-to-day issues which normally would be supported by colleagues. It takes some getting your head around the fact that you are working at full capacity whilst colleagues are at home not able to work under the Job Retention Scheme (and getting paid). There is also the added factor to consider that although colleagues have had 10+ weeks off, they are still entitled to their annual holiday entitlement. We need to decide if this holiday must be all taken by the end of the year, which would mean a very disrupted year or allow any untaken holiday to be carried over to the following year. Staff that have not been furloughed have not enjoyed the flexibility of taking one or two weeks off at one time as they have been required to support the business activities, so again over to HR for the answers to that one.

Our focus is to have all the team back at work within the next two weeks which is important for mental health wellbeing (it’s driving me mad not having them in). On a serious note it is important for everyone to be back at work and whatever the new ‘normal’ is, let’s understand that and adjust our working practices according.

Normal for now is dividing the open plan office into individual work spaces, in areas which allow the best possible ventilation. All the team are supplied with Anit-Bacteria hand gel, desk wipes and face masks. The kitchen has now been closed off and individuals bring in their own tea and coffee flasks. (no more impromptu meetings during tea beaks) We are all maintaining a minimum distance of 1m but the majority of time it is over 2m.

So, on balance inTank Technologies have been very lucky to work within the industries we work in and have been able to continue to seamlessly support our customers without any impact to our services due the CoronaVirus.  There have been challenges along the way but one thing this has shown us is that inTank Technologies are a very resilient business though years of investment. inTank Technologies is a business that has been built on strong foundations with honest and trusted relationships with customers.