Will Honesty and Integrity Always Prevail?
I have been in business for what sometimes feels a very long time. Under our own account at River Valley for 29 years, plus a few years earlier than that managing the company, and before that operating as a contractor shearing sheep, planting forestry trees, a sideline into an unsuccessful nectarine orchard and so on.
Presently I am grappling with questions around business morality.
It would be fair to say that 2019 – 2020 will not be one of our better financial years. Contributing to this is tourist numbers from our main markets, the UK and northern Europe, being down, and the lack of rain meaning our area is slowly lurching into drought showing up as excessively low river flows. Finally, there are changes in the way adventure products, such as white water rafting, are being sold in the gateway cities. These changes include practices that in my view, are sometimes unethical and increasingly use high-pressure sales tactics.
The effect the coronavirus outbreak will have on us is still largely an unknown.
What Price Loyalty?
Throughout my time in business, I have sought to operate genuinely. What this means in practice is loyalty to our suppliers (where loyalty is demonstrated back), looking after our customers as best we can, resolving any complaints or issues promptly and fairly, and not haggling over refunds for whatever the reason, be there was a problem with an activity or stay, or cancellations due to weather conditions.
I have sought to take the position that basing our operations on the principles of loyalty and honesty in business does sometimes lead in the short term to losses, but in the longer term adhering to these principles gives a solid standing leading into the future and is more successful long term. I can also look into the mirror and be happy with the person who looks back at me.
This position is about embracing and being confident in the long game, rather than taking short term advantage.
However, sometimes it is damn hard
There is no doubt that sometimes it is hard to hang on to the belief that honesty and integrity will eventually prevail. That is playing the long game, and believing that building and looking after reputation, and just simply looking after people well is enough.
It is easy to have doubts and sometimes feel that operating with honesty and integrity and believing that in the long term this will be the successful strategy is the same as burying one’s head in the sand and hoping that change and disruption will not affect us.
Instead, I think, we have to be adaptive to change, but only where that change does not destroy or lessen the importance of our core values. That I think is the story of River Valley to date, and will continue to be the story.