Take 2' / 20 Feb 2022

5 things Covid-19 has taught us about business relationships

by Peter Schau, Group Marketing Manager based in Denmark

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  1. In troubled times, you learn who has your back. For the past two years, ship owners and charterers have been navigating rough and contested waters. They have made it clear to me how much they value having a reliable ship agent during these times. Where I normally ask if a customer can see me, now it is often: ‘Peter, come and visit us as soon as it’s safe’.
  2. Face to face really matters. Shipping is a multicultural business and while English is the default language, it’s not always easy for some customers to conduct meetings via Zoom etc. Much information is lost when we’re linked by screens. Screens are not relational. They’re separational. At best, online relationships can preserve what’s already been laid down. It’s just not a good foundation for building the trust needed for doing serious business.
  3. A vessel on voyage can cost up to USD100K per day. It takes more than just correct paperwork to keep an owner or charterer calm with that sort of cash at stake. Trust, in this case, isn’t an option. You have to have it. I am trusted by our customers that when I say GAC can do the job, they know I am backed by experienced teams of operators across the GAC world who have staked their reputation on being able to go the extra mile for customers. Before Covid, many thought GAC’s emphasis on building trusted relationships be getting a bit old fashioned. Not anymore.
  4. Shipping stoutly and stubbornly refuses to corporatise. Most of the sector is still run by shipping people, not shareholders, venture capitalists or hedge funds. Shipping people continue to place other people (mainly customers and colleagues) at the centre of their business approach. And this people-centred approach persists across generations. Youngsters entering shipping today are getting the message to get out and mingle. Meet people (Covid notwithstanding) and learn about shipping from the mouths of the people who actually do it.
  5. It is now completely clear that the colleagues and customers we work with aren’t just optional extras in our lives. They are essential scaffolding that helps us stay upright, particularly when times are weird like they are now.
Peter Schau Dec21 cropped
Sign front office is temporarily closed sign coronavirus store
Covid-19 and restrictions to limit its spread have presented a real challenge to the global shipping community.

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