Even in a normal season there are a lot of financial and other factors to be taken into account.
This year, there will be obvious concerns around the financial implications of the current situation – will guns be reluctant to put down deposits, will there be unsold days, will cashflow and profitability be sufficient?
There are clearly uncertainties about the season ahead that increase the risks at the moment, but the right course of action will depend on the structure and finances of the shoot.
BASC suggests talking with sporting agents or Guns who have returned year-on-year previously to secure commitment. To alleviate concerns, perhaps shoots may be able to restructure payment arrangements i.e. reducing deposits or providing payment systems. It will pay in the long term to be as customer-focused as possible and to acknowledge that this is a difficult time for all involved.
It is important to ensure all booking and cancellation policies are up to date and easy to understand.
Depending on circumstances, shoots may also want to consider offering smaller days or start a little later in the season. This might reduce costs and risks in the event that the start of the season is restricted in a way we can’t predict at the moment.
Once you have birds under your care, you have a legal obligation to ensure their welfare, regardless of other financial and business considerations.
Speak to your accountants or other advisors to ensure that you are taking advantage of any government support schemes that you may be eligible for.
Finally, consider that decisions you make this year will have longer-term implications for the future of your business. Whatever you choose to do, keep in regular contact with your suppliers, customers and supporters to give them confidence for the future.