As we start 2023, I’m reflecting on 2022. It was a year like no other that demanded real management experience. It was stressful in more ways than one and it required a keen eye on the finances.
The start of 2022 very nearly spelt the demise of DrivenByQ. The Omicron variant of Covid-19 meant a false-start to a travel upturn. With furlough concluded and working capital running low, we found ourselves dependent on a grant for struggling businesses. This was initially rejected but then approved on appeal. It was like a scene from a disaster movie with a ticking time bomb stopped with just a second remaining on the clock.
Without the grant, our turnover for January 2022 would have been less than £2,500. We were honestly on the brink of bankruptcy. At the same time, a deferred VAT payment from 2020 to HMRC of over £10k was looming. Thankfully, customers were ready to travel again. At a time like this, you must use every trick in the book to keep a business running. Picking up the phone to plead poverty wasn’t nice but on occasion, you just have to bite the bullet and get it done.
Once February came, we experienced crazy growth but there was a chauffeur shortage. It was time to recall members of our team and reach out geographically to find more. Using operators from other areas is helpful but it is expensive. With dead mileage costs, their rates are higher than ours. It places strain on cash-flow too. Overall, it keeps customers, but we typically pay our suppliers before customers pay us. That leaves a shortfall and a loss on some jobs.
In February 2021, I blogged about ‘The Cost of Covid-19’ and how we saw a decline of more than £200,000 in turnover. In contrast, 2022 saw that amount recovered and more. On paper, it was good but throughout 2022, I found myself having to drive as much as possible to retain as much revenue as possible. It meant working IN the business rather than ON the business. In hindsight, I suppose that isn’t so bad with an established company as marketing guidance is not so critical.
Along with the continuous growth of 2022, we were dealing with constant delays at the airports. Waiting for baggage meant having to juggle jobs around almost all day, every day. Sometimes it could take three hours to find a driver to cover just one job. In addition, we introduced a fuel surcharge calculator at short notice, stopped providing sixty day accounts and had a member of our team experience a very serious health scare.
Reflecting back on the upturn of 2022, we were able to pay off all remaining vehicle finance, clear the deferred VAT bill from 2020 and stop our overdraft being maxed out. Having said that, I personally gained very little in way of financial compensation. So, on reflection, I worked much longer hours, endured way more stress, saw less of my family and earned a lot less for the privilege. Therefore, I’m hoping 2023 will be kinder and more stable with a return to some sort of normality.