These are unprecedented times and it can be confusing for owners like yourself to make sense of how your business could be affected. We sat down with Bill Gillespie, General Manager of Brand and Franchise Development at Hino Australia to get his perspective of the future of the transport industry and offered some advice for business owners during this challenging time.
Hi Bill, what do you make of the plans recently released by the Australian Government to support small businesses?
From my point of view, the Instant Asset Write-Off threshold is the first step to many initiatives the Government will put in place to help small businesses inject money into the economy and support capital investment. The threshold has increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expands to include businesses with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million per annum. I see this as a good step from the Government with future planning in mind, as it can really help not just now but in years to come.
There are a range of other initiatives the Australian Government has put in place, which can seem quite complex and everyday there seems to be a new incentive changed or announced. Some of the plans are difficult to understand, especially if you are a small business owner and time poor. I suggest talking to your accountant or tax agent to get advice on how best to take advantage of these incentives before you act. There’s a lot of money being put into the local economy that needs to go to the right people and businesses.
What advice would you give to people right now in the transport industry?
Right now, there are a lot of businesses that face challenging times or are largely unaffected. If anything, many are going through massive growth, as freight and logistics are doing well especially in the online and home delivery sector. If online retail supported around 10% of freight and logistics in Australia before this pandemic, who knows what this figure will be sitting at after this ends.
There are a lot of opportunities right now in this sector, which can be created as Australia needs the transport industry more than ever. I think people should remain confident over the next 3-4 months and use this opportunity if you are quiet to future plan. The overall transport industry will be tested but I feel we will come out stronger in the long term.
Have you seen a challenge like this before in the industry?
No, never and it’s unprecedented. You could say it’s similar to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2007-2008, but on a larger scale. During the GFC, if a company had liquidity problems and the business could find someone to fund the business, it could keep going. With this current COVID-19 situation, it is impossible to know what the future holds for the Australian market, with current forecasts very uncertain. We regularly use the term unprecedented, and for Hino as a business we currently work on plans day-by-day and stay reactive to any changes or advice that is announced. I feel each business will respond in their own way, but as long as they are adaptable and respond to the advice given in the best way possible, it’s all you can do.
What’s some advice you would give to a Hino owner?
If you suddenly find yourself to have more downtime and your truck is off the road, take advantage and ensure your service intervals are up to date. Contact your local Hino Service Centre and book in your service. For all Hino operators that are working longer hours, more than usual, a lot of Hino dealers throughout Australia are providing 24-hour support and some are open on weekends. We are here to keep your truck running, as we know what the financial impact can be if your truck is off the road.
Also, as I’ve said earlier, take advantage of the Instant Asset Write-Off threshold and buy a truck or operational equipment you have needed. Above all I’d recommend keeping vigilant with your health and safety and ensure you maintain social distancing when going outdoors or visiting customers. Your health is the most important thing to your business, so always follow the governments advice.
What’s the process Hino are following in their dealerships and head office?
Here at head office in Sydney we have taken steps to restrict or avoid face to face interactions and meetings by maximising the use of phone or web-based communication. Where this is unavoidable we have instituted checks on visitors entering the business and will continue to enforce social distancing in the office. We have also upgraded our mobile IT infrastructure to allow most of our departments to work from home.
Our dealers are currently in operation and are reviewing the manner in which they can provide service workshop and parts support outside of normal operating hours. I would recommend you contact your local Hino dealer to discuss these operating conditions.
The wellbeing of our customers, staff, dealers and business partners remains our highest priority. As matters progress we will continue to update our business continuity statement, which can be found here.