I am updating this “Planning for Disasters” 15 months after the COVID 19 Lockdown began and there is still no end in sight for the Philippines BUT…BADLADZ is still alive and I will tell you why.
I make Blogs and Videos of tourist spots in the Philippines, things to see, what to do, need to know, and where to stay around Puerto Galera. Today I will share what you need to keep in mind on planning for disasters and how we saved our business from the COVID 19 Lockdown – 2020
First, watch the video I made that talks about what you need to know about planning for disasters and keep your business in the Philippines running.
Now let’s get to it..
Planning for Disasters
In the Philippines, between Christmas 2019 and Mar 15, 2020, we have had a Typhoon, TAAL Volcano eruption that we could see from our resort, and a COVID-19 lockdown. That’s all in less than 12 weeks and at the time of this video, there is no end in sight!. ** Still no end in sight as of July 2021 as the Philippines has vaccinated less than 1% of its population.
Our Income was slashed in half by the Typhoon and the Volcano, then completely stopped by the Lockdown.
We are now looking at maybe 4 to 8 more weeks of zero income than a long slow recovery. ** It was very close to 8 weeks when we were finally able to resume limited operations. We never expected 15 MONTHS and I fully expect at least 6 more months of curtailed tourism.
This has been a real slap in the face and an extreme case but there are some lessons here to be learned or re-learned.
Definitely, The Importance is planning for disasters and being PREPARED for the worst.
Keeping expenses low and not overextending because you never know!
The BADLADZ businesses will come out of this OK and here are the simple rules on planning for disasters that I had in place that have saved us.
We built the business slowly and carefully over 20 years. Only borrowed small amounts and always reinvested the profits back in the business so our debt at this point is ZERO but this can be a real killer for some businesses when disaster strikes.
Your Debt to income ratio in a western country should be BELOW 36%. So if your debt payments are more than 30% of your gross monthly income then you need to be looking at a way to lower them.
For a developing country like the Philippines, I actually think it should be less.
There are NO BAILOUTS, NO SUBSIDIES, etc. The government WILL NOT be coming to help you and force your lenders to forgive you while you have no income. ** Western countries have given huge handouts to businesses but here we got zero, as expected.
Keep your payments manageable!
If you can’t pay off a big chunk to lower the payments then ask about extending the term to lower the monthly payments BEFORE disaster strikes!
Keep these obligations under control.
RECURRING PAYMENTS (Monthly or Yearly)
These things add up.
I’m not talking basic utilities like electricity & water, I mean things like Gym memberships. Remember those things you sign up for right after New Years’ and never use?
Also things like Property Taxes. Pay them immediately, not monthly.
Cellphone plans, Netflix, Cable TV, Internet, etc, are you using them all to their full potential or can you get by with less?
Always keep these updated to be sure you are getting the best deal and Bang for your Buck.
Websites, Server Fees, Plug-Ins, Internet services, etc can accumulate LOTS of monthly & yearly payments.
The big danger is that they AUTO RENEW.
Take the time to list all of these items.
I think you will be surprised at what you are paying for.
Review all of these quarterly.
It is so easy to spread the payments out over a few months to make them fit into your budget.
Appliance & Furniture stores are great for this.
Pay cash or don’t get it.
OMG – These are probably the most abused financial instruments known to man. Pay them off MONTHLY! Yes, Monthly.
We have all these set to Auto Debit the FULL AMOUNT so we know we can always use them during an emergency.
It is SOOO easy to buy a vehicle now in the Philippines. Zero Down, Only a few thousand pesos every month.
Don’t get caught in these TRAPS. SAVE save your money FIRST then Pay CASH!
We have 2 trucks built in 2014 that we bought in the last couple of years for about half the new price.
They work & look just fine.
SAVE SOME MONEY
My rule of thumb is to ALWAYS have enough CASH to pay for 3 months of operating expenses for times when there is a negative income, I have been doing this since day 1. Luckily I did because NOW it is MUCH worse than I have ever anticipated.
However, we also have fewer operating expenses during the LockDown because of NO STAFF. So this money will actually last about a year! **During the HARSH Lockdown, when we were supposed to be closed, all our staff worked for free BUT they live in the resort so free food & room. BADLADZ has a great location off the beaten path so we operated covertly as a Speakeasy & Bootlegger to bring in some cash.
Also be careful about expanding, For people like us that love business we are constantly looking for opportunities to expand our current business or open new ones. These opportunities all cost money.
Do not use your ‘Emergency’ Money for ANYTHING but an emergency.
I know cash doesn’t make any money sitting in the bank but having it there when you need it is priceless. Like NOW!
STAFF IN THE PHILIPPINES
** On March 15, 2020 we slashed our staff from 60 to 13 and paid all the laid-off staff their full severance. This was not cheap and we were under no obligation to do it but it gave everyone some cash at a critical point. As of this writing, July 1, 2021 we still have 13 paid staff and they are doing a tremendous job helping us to stay fully operational.
During Normal times I guarantee your staff will come to you asking for Cash Advances & Loans. Like everywhere else in the world people here spend more than they earn.
Don’t let them get too deep in debt because during troubled times like this they will REALLY need help and REALLY need money.
There is no government help, No Unemployment Insurance in the Philippines.
It is during times like this right now that you will really NEED to lend your staff money for survival and unfortunately if they get too far in debt to you it is cheaper for them to get another job than pay you back.
Ask me how I know ????
An old adage but especially true today. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Six (6) of our businesses completely shut down because of the COVID-19 lockdown. Our Custom Embroidery shop, Thailand Fashion store, Pampered Spa, Beach Resort, Scuba Diving Shop, and Restaurant all closed so zero income.** We have been able to reopen all of these, except the Embroidery shop, albeit it on a much smaller scale.
HOWEVER, during the initial lockdown, we still had 2 businesses that were still running. Our BADLADZ Apartment building for monthly rentals brings in regular cash and BADLADZ Funny Farm that we set up to supply our Restaurants. There we have 500 fruit trees, vegetables, pigs, 5 kinds of chickens, ducks, turkeys, goats, and even geese.
We don’t sell them BUT at least we won’t go hungry ????** Some new additions in 2021 are cows & rabbits.
** POSTSCRIPT – July 1, 2021 – Within weeks of the initial Lockdown in March of 2020 we realized that shutting down the world was SERIOUS and we better take drastic measures. I immediately started consolidating our businesses. We sold one location and forfeited our deposit on a long lease at another to reduce our exposure. The building sale gave us some speculation CASH. The downside is we lost locations for 3 businesses.
However, It was still early in the game. I do not think anyone else fully realized the extent to which we would be fornicated …so we got busy reorganizing.
Since BADLADZ Beach Resort was empty of guests, which never happens, we took this opportunity to EXPAND at this location. Construction is not fun for guests so this was a perfect time. The businesses we had just lost were quickly duplicated at this location.
The End Result is that BADLADZ will come out of this Nonsense with a Leaner and more focused operation. It’s been a Slap in the Face but …I think we needed it.
In Conclusion, I believe this is just the first of these worldwide lockdowns, not the last.
So, Be prepared for the next ‘Disaster’.
Luck is When Preparation meets Opportunity
People look at us now and say we are Lucky but that is only because we were Prepared.