Running your business
Your customers may be checking their supply chains and some of you report back that you're also putting in the ground work to ensure continuity of service. As a starting point:
- Have you carried out a supply chain mapping exercise?
- Do you know where your materials and inputs come from?
- Do you know what tariffs might apply to these after Brexit? (check tariffs here.)
- Do you need to change any contracts with suppliers, to take account of Brexit?
Government's no-deal partnership pack
This month the Government has published a pack for businesses to prepare for changes at the border in the event of a no-deal Brexit. It includes what to expect on Day 1 of a no-deal Brexit, including how to get UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification. It's a helpful heads-up, but don't worry - if the Withdrawal Bill doesn't go through we'll send more specific information about what to do.
Many of you have been contacted by customers seeking information about your Brexit plans. Top of their list of worries might be that you won't be able to continue to fulfil contracts in a timely way, or that your charges will increase. Some of these contacts have been informal queries, others have been comprehensive surveys with specific questions about steps you've taken to prepare. In such uncertainty, what can you do to set your customers' minds at rest?
1. Remember that your customers are probably very worried about how Brexit will impact them - and how they will meet their obligations in turn. Chances are they're contacting all their suppliers (see item 3) so don't feel you've been singled out!
2. Open a dialogue and clarify that you're aware of the need to prepare for Brexit, whether we leave the EU with or without a deal. Reassure that you're intent on mitigating risks, remaining competitive and continuing the usual good service.
3. Outline steps you're planning to take, sharing only the information you're happy to. For example:
a. You could let them know that you're checking your supply chains and contracts to ensure continuity. If you have Authorised Economic Operator Status, or are planning to apply, this can be help set minds at rest that goods will be flowing as smoothly as possible.
b. Your customers will be concerned that if tariffs are imposed, those costs will have to be passed on. While of course you can't guarantee against price rises, let them know that you're checking WTO tariffs that might be applied on your imports, noting that paper and board incur a 0% tariff.
c. Let them know that you're in touch with your trade association and are taking guidance regarding preparation. This includes on tariffs, non-tariff barriers such as customs delays, staffing (if you have EU staff) and so on.
4. Pledge to keep them updated, and ask to be included in their plans - for example, are they planning to place orders earlier than usual in 2019, ahead of exit?
5. As in all things, face-to-face contact is often the most effective way to build or improve trust so it could be a good time for a catch-up over a cup of coffee!
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