In this podcast with Barry Armstrong from the Financial Exchange, Insight Performance’s own Nancy Saperstone discusses the sixth Business Outlook survey the company has conducted and what it means for businesses in New England.
Barry Armstrong: Now we’re joined by Nancy Saperstone from Insight Performance. We’re talking about a survey that was conducted, measuring optimism in the business climate throughout New England. How are you doing Nancy?
Nancy Saperstone: I’m good, how are you?
Barry: Good. So tell us . . . . First, I’d like to know how you conducted this survey. In other words, did you call business owners and ask them questions, was it an online survey? How was it conducted?
How the Survey Was Conducted
Nancy: Yes, it was an online survey and we partnered with SBANE, the Smaller Business Association of New England, and sent it out, and asked companies all about what they’re seeing now in terms of their outlook in comparison to previous years and what they expect in the future.
Barry: So are business owners more optimistic today than they were a year ago? ‘
Nancy: Yeah, the good news is that we are seeing optimism growing, they’re expecting better news, better results than they were even a year ago. Our results showed that 56% of the people who responded are doing better now than they were a year ago and that actually grows even from over previous years. Since this was our 6th year doing the survey, we were able to see kind of a trend in growth.
When Was the Survey Conducted
Barry: When was the survey conducted? What were the dates?
Nancy: We conducted it at the very end of 2016, so in the November/December timeframe.
Barry: Was it after the election?
Nancy: It was after the election, which is interesting, so yeah.
Barry: So when they conducted the survey, why? Everybody’s optimistic, everybody’s “bullish.” Is it because tax rates are going to go down? Is it deregulation? What’s the motivating factor or the impetus, if you will, for optimism?
The Motivation for Optimism
Nancy: Yeah, it’s hard to really predict or understand exactly. We didn’t ask that specific question. I think there’s an increase in confidence that we’ve been seeing over the last six years, ever since the recession of a number of years ago. We’ve seen this growing business confidence each year and each year it seems to get stronger and stronger and more of a commitment to businesses I think and to employees and that’s kind of where we’re seeing the growth.
Barry: What are the biggest challenges when you ask the employers? Okay, you’re running an electric manufacturing business or a pharmaceutical company or a medical practice. What’s the biggest challenge that employers are facing today?
Nancy: The biggest challenge actually that we found was recruiting, which was really interesting. 40% of our respondents cited recruiting as a challenge and I think that’s a testament to the labor market here in New England and low unemployment rates. There’s just a big competition out for good workers and good employees. Numbers two and three were insurance costs and retaining your employees, so some interesting challenges out there for our market.
Barry: When you conducted the survey, are businesses generally feeling like, “Hey, we’re going to make more money this year?”
Nancy: Yeah. That was probably the biggest takeaway. 78% of the companies are expecting 2017 to be even better than 2016, so again, that real growing confidence in their market.
Barry: Very good. Nancy, thank you very much for your time, we appreciate it.
Nancy: Thank you.
Barry: Nancy Saperstone from Insight Performance.