We’re sticking rigidly to a flexible approach


I won’t name the business concerned, but a few days ago, I approached a substantial business to see whether they would be willing to tweak part of their service offering so that it would suit our needs better. Unfortunately, I came up against a brick wall.

The young salesperson I was talking to hadn’t got the authority to make the change, and there was no one higher up the chain of command available to speak to me. When I did get a call back, I was told that my very simple request would need board approval. Guess what? The board wouldn’t be meeting again for two months.

In limbo, I took my request elsewhere. A smaller operation this time, whose response went along the lines of “I don’t see why not.” We shook hands, and it’s sorted. I’m happy, the supplier’s happy and I’m confident that a new positive business relationship has been formed.

In many ways, I understand the position of the larger business. They have policies and procedures to which they adhere because of their size. It’s the only way the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, but it makes them rigid. Just like an oil tanker, changing course becomes a major exercise, so they’re reluctant to do it. When external changes happen, they need to be adequately prepared, otherwise the lag before they get back on track can have an enormous negative impact. They might be big and powerful, but they aren’t quick to adapt.

The Alternative?

This, of course, is one of the key advantages of being a small, independent company. Without a hefty, hierarchical management structure, decisions can be made rapidly, and necessary changes implemented. When the market moves on, or where technology disrupts the old ways of doing business, it’s easier to respond. And for many clients, that’s a more appropriate situation than a rigid format.

Being more flexible also allows a business to respect its clients’ individuality and to tailor services accordingly, and I believe that in the Cayman Islands, this kind of approach is a real asset. Our culture is diverse. Our industries range from tiny fish shacks to multinational financial corporations. Our permanent residents and visitors come from every part of the globe and temporary residents stay for differing lengths of time. This diversity is the very thing that makes our islands wonderful, but its also why we need to be adaptable. Every situation is different, and different situations need different answers.

When you can adapt quickly, you can address the things that aren’t working and capitalise on those that are. You can grab opportunities as they arise, rather than being behind the game. Critically, you can tweak what you offer to suit your customer’s needs.

People who contact JBS are often surprised by our willingness to tailor our service to their situation. They’re so used to having to fit in with rigid structures that our adaptability feels like a breath of fresh air. But, to the team here, this flexible approach is perfectly normal. It works, it’s who we are and it’s what do.