Small businesses across the US facing rising inflation, supply-chain problems and slowing economic growth make their challenges surmounting the COVID-19 pandemic. In a series of CBS MoneyWatch articles exploring the key issues facing small business owners, Jessica Johnson-Cope, CEO of the Bronx, New York-based Johnson Security Bureau, discusses how the company faces such challenges. Still working. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How has inflation affected your business?
Jessica Johnson-Cope: With inflation, we are getting less for more. We have an armored car business, so fuel costs are more expensive. Our largest armored car contract is with the federal government and we forecast those rates for five years at a time, so we weren’t expecting that much increase this year. that’s a field where our costs are rising But we are not making much money.
Another area where we are seeing inflation is our uniforms. Our uniforms providers source materials from overseas, so shipping costs are more expensive, as well as taking longer.
Unless we’re getting new business, we don’t have opportunities to bake these increased costs into our rates, as many of our contracts are long contracts. Also customers say that they have to pay more for it, But their revenue is not increasing That’s all, that’s all you can do to move on.
Do recession worries make it difficult to plan ahead?
It is already challenging enough to come up with financial projections. In current financial environmentIt’s even more difficult to project what’s going to happen from my vantage point.
Last week we were securing a construction project, and our client said we had to reduce coverage because one of the reasons they needed protection was monitoring equipment. But due to supply-chain delays, they did not even have the necessary equipment.
We got lucky and got a call from a health care customer who needed additional coverage Trying to Manage MonkeypoxSo we sent our people to them. Net-net, it got washed out, but it’s not something I was anticipating.
I have to be optimistic because if I’m not, my team won’t be there, and people just won’t show up – and I need people to show up.
The security services business looks like it will be relatively recession-proof.
Yes and no. Depending on who the customer is, they respond differently. Companies securing event venues, restaurants, entertainment are taking a hit. But if we’re doing more infrastructure and health care-related jobs, we’re fine. In some cases, those who provide security for schools are seeing increased demand in response to what happened in Uvalde and the perceived increased threat to people in the school environment.
Unfortunately, we are seeing greater demand for our services than ever before, amid concerns about the safety of children and teachers and administrators in school settings, and their safety on public transport and in public in general. Amidst growing concerns about
There is also uncertainty about what will happen during the midterm elections and possible civil unrest. And with crime increasing in major metro areas like New York City, we’re getting more calls than we’ve had in the past three years. Our business prospects are really good, Especially if we’re not discriminating about the types of contracts we’re raising.
Has it become harder to find workers? And how do you compete with the bigger firms?
We certainly compete for talent with great conditions, and that’s a challenge. Some people will quit for more money, and some want to be appreciated for where they are. It’s a matter of listening to the people on your team and being accountable to what they are saying.
For those who show up, we reward them appropriately, whether it’s an extra day off, a gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts, or we give them the shift they want. There are other incentives we can use that aren’t always the salary or compensation that people really appreciate.