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No More Business as Usual
Umpqua shares survey insights on business, economy in webinar
It’s the question on the mind of so many: Where do we go from here?
The COVID-19 pandemic upended the world and its economies. While the future remains uncertain, a recent survey by Umpqua Bank shed some light on what may be ahead for some businesses.
Umpqua spoke with nearly 1,200 small and middle market businesses for their 2021 Business Barometer Survey. The survey was intended to gauge the mood, mindset, and plans for the year ahead. The results were illuminating, and Umpqua recently hosted a webinar to discuss its insights with customers and other interested business leaders.
“The pandemic had spurred long-term transformational shifts in how middle-market businesses think and operate,” said Richard Cabrera, Executive Vice President and Head of Middle Market Banking, who was one of the webinar presenters.
Almost all of the middle market businesses surveyed made significant changes to some component of the business during the pandemic, and 71% said they will not return to business as usual.
“When the pandemic hit, there were many companies that went to a zero-revenue base. They were basically shut down at the outset …causing them to think about ‘How are we going to survive?’” said Cabrera. “It does seem like a lifetime ago, but it was only 18 months ago (that) this happened.”
The good news is that middle market companies took a hard look at themselves and found ways to adapt or reinvent themselves.
12-month expectations for growth increase over 2019 levels
Wholesale companies became direct-to-consumer companies, businesses found new supplier sources or changed their product offerings. Essentially, these companies “pulled every lever” to adapt.
Cabrera said the results were not transitional, they were transformational and now they are better prepared for future disruptions. It’s “realistic there is going to be another disruption that is around the corner,” he said. But companies are more resilient and agile now.
Many companies are still dealing with many problems that surfaced during the pandemic, such as disruptions in the supply chain. Some companies are shifting their resources closer to home or opting to keep more inventory on hand. But Cabrera expects some of the supply and demand issues behind it all to normalize in the next 18 months.
And while companies have plans to grow and expand, they are still facing a worker shortage that is impacting every part of their business.
“The labor shortage is very real,” Cabrera said. “I think this started before the pandemic and the pandemic hastened all of it and exacerbated it.”
But companies are thinking about how to attract and retain more than ever. Cabrera said that the issue will resolve but believes there will be “new ways” companies treat their employee base.
Even businesses that have been hesitant to make major changes found themselves so disrupted by the pandemic that they were willing to take the leap. It forced many companies, as it did people, to re-evaluate. As Cabrera put it, they realized: “If not now, then when?”
Middle market businesses are embracing a mindset of continuous change and evolution.
plan to make significant changes to:
plan to digitize for efficiency
expect to automate manual tasks
If you’re interested in gaining additional insight about what was discussed during last week’s webinar, please view either the full recording or the section of most interest via the links below:
Business Barometer Survey Findings (Full Recording)
Presentation Date: September 22, 2021 | Duration: 1 hour 2 minutes 22 seconds
- Umpqua Bank & Report Overview
Duration: 12 minutes 17 seconds
- Report Insights: Operations
Duration: 6 minutes 4 seconds
- Report Insights: Growth Expectations
Duration: 3 minutes 13 seconds
- Report Insights: Growth Mindset
Duration: 8 minutes 52 seconds
- Report Insights: Change & Evolution
Duration: 2 minutes 50 seconds
- Report Insights: Labor & Supply Chain
Duration: 7 minutes 16 seconds
- Report Insights: Workforce
Duration: 2 minutes 27 seconds
- Questions & Answers
Duration: 15 minutes 55 seconds