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Latest articles

The Importance of Communication During A Crisis

A lawsuit, an accident on the production floor, a data breach - or a totally unpredicted outbreak of a new disease - can all spell a crisis for your business and can undermine everything you have worked for. There are ways to deal with a disaster, and having a disaster plan in place is essential. But although you may know exactly what is going on and what to do, no-one else will. That is why communications must be a key element in any disaster plan. If people know something has gone very wrong but don’t know exactly what, the consequences can be worse than the original problem. Creditors may start to call in debts, customers may hurry to cancel orders and place them with your competitors, and even your staff may be looking for another job. You need to be able to show that you are still in control of your business and that you are in control of the crisis as well. You may be able to move to another office, pull production and switch to another product or find some other way to continue working, even when the problem threatens your business. But none of the big ideas which could help you survive will be of any use if no-one knows about them. That is why crisis communication is an important component of any disaster plan. It can help you contain the crisis and recover from its impact, by: Letting your staff know what they need to do Ensuring your customers or clients understand that your service will be disrupted and what it will mean to them Informing the authorities and regulators – which may be a legal requirement Stopping the media from relying on speculation – keeping you and your business in control of the situation Acting to support damage limitation During a crisis, your business will be under intense scrutiny by the public and by the media. All businesses need to have a crisis communication plan to ensure that accurate information is provided during an emergency to minimise problems caused by rumour  and misleading communications. Who will manage the crisis? In times of business crisis, decision-makers should be well aware of company policy on crisis management and communications – even before that crisis occurs. Here are the steps you may need to take to as part of your crisis communication preparations. 1. Create a formal plan When you're in the midst of a crisis, it is too late to let people use their own judgement. You need a plan in place which lets everyone know what they need to do right away. There could be no time – or possibly no way – to brief people in the heat of a crisis. Define what needs to be done in the event of all the crisis scenarios you can think of – from flooding and fire to data loss. Include who needs to take action – and what that action should be. What information do stakeholders need? Customers need one kind of information and the press another. Government regulators may need different information altogether. Plan communications ahead before a crisis strikes to react quickly to whatever comes your way. 2.  Have a crisis communication team and spokesperson People need to know what they have to do – and where their responsibilities lie. If you are the CEO, it could be you as you have the necessary authority. But you may well be busy dealing with the crisis itself. You need someone to take responsibility who will be available, and who can act for you. The person you appoint should be trained and experienced in how to handle crisis and emergency, communicate well with the employees, react on a timely basis and always be ready to answer employees’ specific questions. They should be able to communicate outside the business too. Customers and suppliers will want to know what is going on – it will be their job to provide reassurance. They may not be able to do it all themselves. People from other departments such as managers, HR professionals, operations, internal communications and PR departments should be involved in the strategy. Their priority will be to gain employees' attention, connect with employees, build trust in the workplace and make employees work towards the same goals Your business activities have a far-reaching impact on lots of people and companies - develop a crisis communication plan that includes a list of who needs to know what ASAP Make sure your messages are accurate and consistent When communicating, it is important to deliver the right information, even if that sometimes means answering with “I don’t know” Giving wrong information can cause the spread of misinformation which can significantly hurt your reputation with the outside world and undermine your employees’ trust Messages delivered to employees have to be consistent no matter which communication channel you use and whether you are communicating with internal or external stakeholders Some companies also tend to neglect or ignore the crisis - if you don’t comment on the situation, be sure that someone else will Therefore, consistent and transparent communication is a must-have during a crisis.  Need to access funding during a business crisis. Talk to the experts in business funding and contact us today 3. Understand your audiences – and what they need to know As in any other communication strategy, workplace crisis communicators need to have a very good understanding of their audience. In most situations, there will be multiple audiences a spokesperson would have to communicate and connect to. Junior staff Senior staff Your clients or customers The authorities The media general media outlets Industry-specific media Social media sites They will need to be able to segment those audiences properly and adjust the approach and messages to them. Your staff – who may understand the details of what is going wrong – may need a very different message to your clients or customers, whose main interest is in knowing whether or not the products or services you provide to them will be delivered as usual. Timely communication is crucial because the worst thing that can happen is for your employees to hear about the crisis from a source different from their own employer. Also, depending on the type of crisis, not every employee may be the target audience you need to communicate with. In any situation, however, the message needs to be delivered in a timely manner, and it needs to be clear and easy to understand. 4. Deliver targeted messages Once you have to define your audiences, adjusting the internal crisis communication content is the next important step. Not every employee needs to receive every message during an emergency. This just slows down employees’ response time by overwhelming them with irrelevant information. Ideally, your internal communication solution should be able to target specific individuals and departments to ensure the most pertinent information gets to those who need it most. Employers that manage to adopt these best crisis communication practices are more likely to equip people with important information, optimize employee experience, streamline emergency response, protect people, keep physical and digital assets safe, and minimize lost productivity and revenue. Crisis communications go both ways During a crisis, employees are your most valuable asset because they are the voice of your company. They can be your strongest advocates and they must be kept onside and on-message. For that reason, crisis communication should never go one-way only . Crisis communication must enable employees to join the two-way conversations, raise their concerns and ask questions. You can encourage feedback by making it quite clear that it is welcomed. Seek out opinions and ideas, and encourage contributions. Using an online forum could be the solution – your staff can use it out of hours as well as during work time. In companies that communicate mainly through emails, intranets or even instant messaging apps, two-way communication comes naturally. Of course, if your crisis has wiped out power, or your network, you may not be able to use electronic communication – be prepared to use more traditional alternatives. However, emails or intranets will be very inefficient in providing crisis communications to non-wired employees, remote employees or employees who may be away from their desks. The most effective way to communicate during an emergency or crisis these days is via mobile technology, which goes wherever your employees go. After the event Unfortunately, many employers don’t have insights into their employee engagement with the crisis-related content delivered to them. This causes high levels of uncertainty and fear that employees haven’t even got or read the critical updates. You need to know what communication is working. When the crisis is over, you need to ask yourself what you have learned from the situations and what you can do in the future to improve. Even though these situations are not comfortable to anyone, they should serve as a good learning curve. The five  questions every employer needs to address after the crisis include: What did we do right? What did we do wrong? How to improve crisis communication next time? What are the critical crisis communication elements that impact on how the crisis was handled? How can we prepare our crisis communication team? Define a crisis in your communications plan. Not every blip is a crisis that ruins your weekend. Create protocols that define when managers are contacted, and when it can wait until Monday.  You may also need to deal with some costs as part of your disaster preparation measures. When this is the case, you can turn to Rangewell, confident that they can find the most appropriate and affordable finance from over 300 lenders and all types of funding, and support you from initial enquiry right through to drawing down the money.  Call us at Rangewell on 020 3637 4150 or email [email protected] today.

CBILS and Bounce Back Loans Dashboards Week 8

Latest CBIL / Bounce Back Dashboards show many UK business are failing to meet CBILS requirements  A “Project Spruce” - replicating the forthcoming “Project Birch” for larger companies - is needed for smaller companies Following the release yesterday of the latest CBIL and Bounce Back Loan data, Rangewell have released their latest Dashboards to help ensure continued scrutiny and understanding of the CBIL and Bounce Back data being published by the Treasury. Click here for the CBIL Dashbaord in high resolution Click here for the Bounce Back Dashbaord in high resolution Key takeaways from the latest data: CBIL Scheme The overall approval rate for the CBIL Scheme remains at 50%.  Many CBIL applicants are not suitable for debt funding, and both they and the lenders know it The government needs to be thinking of other solutions for this large cohort of over 40,000 companies. They need a different form of support from the government - Rangewell are suggesting a “Project Spruce” that replicates the forthcoming “Project Birch” being rolled out for larger companies.  The majority of CBIL applications that have been rejected will be long-standing, credible entities providing employment locally - having failed to receive CBIL funding, many will be facing significant financial difficulties - and many will be just as important to their local economies as the nationally important companies being supported by “Project Birch”. The average CBIL loan size of £275,000 this week and £194,000 since the commencement of the Scheme ties in with what Rangewell are seeing - most borrowers keen to remain below the £250k limit where PGs kick in. Low volumes of CBIL applications over the last couple of weeks suggest to Rangewell that the early unwarranted negative publicity may be "scaring off" legitimate borrowers from applying to the scheme. Although getting very little publicity, the Large CBIL Scheme continues to underperform. The UK's "Mittelstand" is the real backbone of the economy and needs better support than this. Bounce Back Loan Scheme Interestingly the average Bounce Back Loan amount remains at the £30k level - assuming every borrower is applying for the maximum 25% of turnover, it shows the scheme really is helping the smaller end of the SME market. Although Bounce Back Loan volumes and loan amounts have fallen significantly again this week, the overall 80% approval rate and the £20bn+ of total lending via the scheme is a huge injection of capital into SMEs. Our thoughts on the overall performance of CBIL Scheme:  The overall approval rate for the CBIL Scheme remains at 50%; in reality, this means that over 40,000 businesses have failed to receive the funding they needed - and needed quickly. Most of these businesses will be credible, long-standing businesses but not suitable for bank debt. Perhaps this is because of the sector they are in, their stage of development or previous credit issues. It is not realistic for the government to ask lenders to breach responsible lending guidelines; as that is what will cause the much-discussed “surge in defaults and would be irresponsible.  Instead, Rangewell are calling on the government to rapidly replicate and roll-out the forthcoming equity support for larger SMEs that will be provided by “Project Birch” to smaller SMEs. Rangewell are suggesting a “Project Spruce” for smaller SMEs, with priority given to those who have failed to receive CBIL funds. In the majority of cases, such companies will have spent considerable time preparing cash flows and business plans - all of which could quickly be reviewed under the new “Project Spruce” scheme and funds deployed rapidly.” Our thoughts on the overall performance of the Bounce Back scheme:  Assuming every borrower is applying for the maximum 25% of their turnover, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme is really supporting and helping the cohort of micro and small SMEs and both the lenders and Treasury should be commended for this - to get a scheme of this magnitude up and running so quickly and pumping over £20bn into supporting SMEs is no small feat. Rangewell work alongside SMEs every day and the vast majority are hard-working, responsible businesses, providing vital employment and services to their local economies. The headlines being bandied around that half these borrowers have “no intention of paying back the loans” is frankly insulting to small businesses who are facing unprecedented situations and levels of stress whilst trying to keep their businesses afloat. Rangewell's thoughts on the overall performance of the Large CBIL Loan scheme:  The Large CBIL Scheme continues to underperform with low application rates and an overall approval rate of just over 30%. The UK's "Mittelstand" are the real backbone of the economy and need much better support than this. The Chancellor needs to urgently work out why this scheme is not performing and see how it can be improved alongside the equity injection plans that have been floated via the much-anticipated “Project Birch” scheme. Open in high resolution Open high resolution

The furlough scheme and your business

The coronavirus crisis has meant that many people who are fit and ready to work have no work to do - because their employers are either forced to shut down - or facing a lack of business to do. Rather than laying off workers who will be desperately needed in the recovery, many employers are taking advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). This means that if you cannot maintain your current workforce because your business operations have been affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19), you can furlough employees and apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs. You can claim for up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions on that subsidised furlough pay. The scheme was set to be a temporary measure, designed to help employers retain their employees and protect the UK economy. However, all employers are eligible to claim under the scheme which was put in place for 4 months starting from 1 March 2020 until the end of July.  News that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended into the autumn by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, providing continued assistance to struggling UK businesses has been welcomed - but you need to understand the changes involved. From August, employers currently using the scheme will have more flexibility to bring their furloughed employees back to work part-time whilst still receiving support from the scheme. This will run for three months from August through to the end of October. Employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.  The extension of the scheme is undoubtedly a huge relief for a great many business owners and their employees, as an immediate turning off of the tap would likely have been disastrous.  What happens next CJRS will continue to provide businesses with 80% of employee salaries, capped at £2,500 per employee, until the end of October. But the high cost of the scheme will mean that the government’s generosity cannot go on forever. Since its March creation, the furlough scheme has supported 7.5m workers from nearly one million UK businesses, according to HMRC, and around £10.1bn has been claimed through CJRS. These figures mean that, at the end of October, businesses will need to contribute to the salaries of furloughed employees. While employees will be able to return to part-time work from August, many SMEs will struggle to pay full-time salaries due to lower sales volumes. Some sectors such as hospitality, leisure and travel industries may be particularly badly hit. You may need to start planning how you will deal with your wages bill now. Getting the help you need The problem you face is that your business may not have fully recovered by the time you are called on to deal with the full cost of your staff. You will probably not want to let them go - not only will this create resentment and reflect badly on your and your business, but it will also mean that you will lack the skills and human resources to seize the opportunities of the recovery period. You need to find ways to provide the extra funding your business needs now - before your need becomes acute. At Rangewell, we have a number of solutions which could bring you the extra cash you may need. The government’s funding schemes are unprecedented and could provide a lifeline - but they can be unwieldy and slow - and in some cases expensive. Fortunately, there are still the usual commercial lending solutions which can help, and with interest rates currently low, it could be a very good time to borrow - because, with many lenders, borrowing has never been so cheap. Cashflow support funding A cashflow support loan can provide a reserve of cash to tide a business over a spell when income is reduced - as it is for most enterprises in the current market, and is likely to be during the recovery phase. These usually take the form of a short-term unsecured loan which could be arranged very quickly - and, in the current climate, with competitive rates. Revolving Credit Facilities Revolving Credit Facilities - also known as Overdraft Replacement - allow you to borrow and repay funds as required. They can be a simple way to increase your financial resources, giving you the cash you need while you need it, and with no changes when you do not draw down funds. If you believe that your recovery could be swift, they could provide a simple way to provide additional funding for wages shortfalls as required. Our experts can help you identify the most appropriate solutions for your business - and help arrange the funding you need at the most competitive rates. Contact us today. Invoice Finance If your business deals with other businesses, the delays in getting paid will be a handicap for your recovery, and getting paid fast becomes all the more important. Invoice Finance provides an immediate cash payment by the lender when you invoice a customer or client for work done, no matter how long it takes for them to pay. It could help you accelerate cash flow and keep pace with the level of business you actually do. Merchant Cash Advance if you do retail business, you many able to raise cash with a Merchant Cash Advance - which allows you to take advantage of the fact that most customers will pay with a card when they buy from you. Merchant Cash Advance, or Business Cash Advance (MCA/BCA), provides cash advances using your credit card takings as security - and as the means of repayment.  So your advance is paid back as your customers make card payments, with a proportion of every payment you take diverted to the lender. This means that you don’t need to make any repayments yourself. The level of repayments keep pace with the volume of business you are actually doing, so the more business you do and the more you take via cards, the faster the advance is paid off Asset Refinance Where your business owns solid assets, from tooling to kitchen equipment, you could use Asset Refinance to raise finance against them. These facilities can work much like a loan, or as a sale and leaseback. You release the investment you have made in the asset to use again – and they can provide a particularly cost-effective solution for your financial needs. As security is offered, you can expect a lower rate than those offered through an unsecured loan. The finance company will buy the assets from you, providing you with a cash sum. You then buy your assets back with a new finance arrangement. Costs can be lower than ordinary loans because the cash advanced is secured on your equipment. Commercial Mortgages can be used in a similar way to Asset Refinance to raise capital, although in this case, the asset is your business premises. Very large sums can be available - often up to 70% of the market value of your premises. Commercial mortgages can take around 8 weeks to complete, and may not be ideal where funds are needed urgently. An alternative is a Bridging Loan which can be used to provide finance - although costs will be higher. Refinancing If you already raised finance for your business through lending, you may find that repayments on those loans are adding to your cashflow burdens. If the income that you were expecting is not coming in, monthly repayments can be a major drain. You may be able to approach your lenders and discuss the possibilities of a repayment holiday - basically extending your loan term and not making the usual repayments for a month or two until your business is back on its feet. At Rangewell, we know the lenders who may be most receptive to this idea and we can help you approach them to see if it is possible in your cases. However if your current finance is with a lender who will not look sympathetically at your request for a payment holiday, it may be possible to refinance your arrangements. We can help you find another lender who can pay off your existing commitment, you may be able to agree on a loan that offers an initial repayment holiday, a larger loan sum, a lower interest rate or longer to repay. You probably already have a range of loans and funding agreements in place. Refinancing means replacing these agreements with loans that offer lower rates or longer terms which could cut your monthly commitments, especially with the recent cut in bank rates. Getting the help you need now At Rangewell, we understand the challenges your business faces as we come out of lockdown - and we know that the best time to start looking at the answers is now.  Of course, some lenders have, themselves, shut down with the Coronavirus crisis - but we know those who can be in the best position to provide you with funding now - to ensure that you can prepare for the next few months as quickly as possible. At Rangewell, we are acknowledged experts in all types of business finance. We can help you find the most appropriate and most affordable funding for you and your business, whether you're looking for help with a government scheme, looking at new lending - or in need of fresh ways to cut the costs of lending you already have arranged.  Call us today for the help you need.

Are you ready to reopen your sports shop?

The controversy about whether or not a sports shop is an ‘essential’ business has come and gone, but with the government roadmap for easing lockdown, it looks as though there could be some good news. Sporting enthusiasts who want to make the most of lockdown to build fitness, along sports shop owners may finally have something to celebrate. But if you run a shop that has been closed as part of the lockdown, you will need to look at the costs of reopening. Going back to work after the lockdown is not going to be like coming back after a long weekend. The world has moved on, and your shop has to move on with it. “If you are a retailer you need to realise two things. One is that business could be very slow in your shop for months and that there could be some new costs to deal with even before you open the doors” Stock The lockdown came suddenly and may have left you with a well-filled stockroom which just needs a dust down to be ready for the shop floor. Many people are likely to be in need of trainers, and the new enthusiasm for leisurewear could be a moneyspinner. Many people are swapping the office and career wear for working from home and sports clothing. The growing enthusiasm for a kick around in the garden could also mean sales of balls are due for an increase. But many customers are watching their money more closely than ever so you may need to be very selective if you are bringing in fresh stock. You should start by calling your wholesaler or other suppliers. The chances are that they will have some fresh stock in, but not in the quantities that you might expect at this time of year because Covid has brought many factories to a halt on the other side of the world. They may also be less willing than usual to offer credit. They are worried about retailers not being able to survive and may want cash upfront.  You may find that you need to pay cash to bring in stock - at a time when cash is in short supply for everyone. Health and safety The extra health and safety measures required because of Covid will mean some changes will be needed in your shop. Changing rooms may need to be kept shut for the time being, and you will have to be very careful with returns. But it is on your shop floor that you might need to be most careful. Shoppers like to browse, and they like to shop with friends, both of which could become a problem. You cannot allow so many potential customers into your shop that it becomes crowded they will need to observe the 2-metre rule. This might require restricting the number of people you allow in at any time and make queuing unavoidable. People are getting used to the idea of queues, but if you are in a mall or a high street, it can be a problem finding somewhere for your customers to line up. You may also need to introduce perspex screens to keep customers and staff safely distanced near the till, while floor markings might be needed to provide circulation routes. You might need to think about protective equipment, including non-medical grade face masks, for your employees. Hand sanitiser is starting to become available again, and you will need to provide a supply for your staff. It is good practice to use it after any customer contact.  Rent Rent and rates are two of the biggest costs for retailers. The government's rates holiday means that you will not need to give the usual sum to your local authority this year, but your landlord will still need to be paid. However, because of the unprecedented situation and the impact it has had on the business community, some landlords may be open to negotiation. Despite your shop being closed, you will probably have had to pay rent in full, draining what cash reserves you have. They are better off with a tenant who is paying a reduced rent for a few months than one who has gone out of business and will not be paying them anything at all. Most commercial landlords will be fully aware of the problems they will face with getting a replacement tenant to take over your premises, and could therefore be accomodating.  Dealing with the costs Stock and health and safety - and publicity to tell people you are open for business - will all mean additional costs, at a time when takings are unpredictable, but likely to be very much smaller than the usual for the time of year.  At Rangewell we can help you find the answers – and the cash you need – for your reopening plans. Short-term funding while you reopen With some extra costs to cover, and probably drastically reduced footfall, you may need help with your cash flow. There are many types of funding that you may be able to consider. CBILS and other government funding schemes may be available, but it is becoming clear that many mean delays and high costs, and can be simply too difficult to apply for and slow to be arranged to answer your immediate needs if you are looking at reopening.  Fortunately, there are many other ways to provide short-term funding. Working Capital Loans Working Capital Loans can be used to cover everyday operating expenses, such as your accounts payable and payroll, when cashflow is slow. They are simple, short-term loans designed to provide a cash lump sum very quickly - in a matter of days with some lenders - and intended to be paid back in a matter of months. A short-term unsecured loan can often be arranged in a working week. Merchant Cash Advance Another alternative may be a Merchant Cash Advance. It is particularly appropriate as it is based on customers using cards to pay for their purchases - rapidly becoming the most popular payment method with concerns about the possibility of infection from cash. Merchant Cash Advance, or Business Cash Advance (MCA/BCA), can provide cash advances using your credit card takings as security. This is then paid back as your customers make card payments, with a proportion of every payment you take diverted to the lender. With many conventional lenders still reluctant to lend to the retail sector, it can provide a simple way for businesses, to raise the funds they need during the aftermath of the crisis The sum that can be advanced will typically be equivalent to your monthly takings during more usual trading conditions. The lender will work with your payment processing company, who gives them access to your recent transactions, and they will provide a deal that takes into account the volume of business that you have done during normal business conditions.  Then every time you have a customer who pays with a card or their phone - which is how most people who are shopping will be paying - a proportion of their spend goes to pay off your advance. There is no need for you to budget for repayments of any kind.  An MCA or BCA can bring you the funds you need fast, often in just days. Then it makes repayment automatically, with a set percentage of every credit card payment you take going straight to the lender. Finding the right support to help your business survive the crisis isn't always straightforward. We're on your side and ready to show you all of your options, including government and debt solutions. Contact us now. Overdraft Replacement An overdraft used to be an everyday business finance facility provided by your bank. Your overdraft level would be agreed as part of your business banking arrangements. It would let you withdraw cash that you didn’t have as you needed it as a short-term loan. You could use it for a few days or a few weeks, as a buffer against cashflow slowdowns, or to deal with larger expenses. Your bank would only charge you for the cash you withdrew, and for the time you used it, making it cost-effective for all types of small costs, from dealing with bills to bringing in stock. But when the credit crunch hit, the banks reduced or removed the overdrafts they extended to small businesses. Revolving Credit, also known as Overdraft Replacement or Alternative Overdraft Funding, has grown up to fill the gap. Alternative Overdrafts are provided by a number of lenders, and offer instant access to funds, just like an overdraft, although no bank account is involved. Instead, the Alternative Overdraft provides a line of credit with a limit agreed when you apply. This limit is usually based on your past income. The facility will only mean a charge when you actually use the facility, based on the amount you draw down, and the time which you hold it. You can repay at any time, and the funds will be ready for use again. This can be a useful additional source of funding if you need access to small cash sums for short periods, for purposes such as buying in fresh supplies or bringing in PPE. Both secured and unsecured arrangements can be provided, with those arrangements secured on assets usually offering more attractive rates. Refinancing You might also be able to improve your cashflow without borrowing more - by taking a fresh look at loans you already have. The chances are that you already have a wide range of loans and funding agreements in place. Refinancing - replacing these agreements with loans that offer lower rates or longer terms - could substantially cut your outgoings. At Rangewell we can help you find lenders with the kind of rates you need and help you secure the funding deals you want from them. You may also be able to use refinancing to bring you cash.  The equipment that your shop already uses - displays, lighting, a vehicle - all represent a considerable investment. Asset Refinance lets you re-use that investment, while still having full use of your assets.  The finance company will buy the asset from you, providing you with a cash sum. You then buy the asset back, with a new finance arrangement. You may even be able to refinance your property. By remortgaging your business premises can receive a cash lump sum comparable to its market value to use as you wish. So your shop could be used to raise funds - you simply make monthly mortgage repayments until the property becomes yours again - and it is usually not necessary to have paid off the initial purchase of a property to be able to use it to raise funds in this way.  Getting the help you need to reopen your sports shop Getting the right type of funding for your sports business, and getting it quickly, can be vital for its survival. But you must be certain that the rates and terms are fair and affordable as your business starts to pick up again. At Rangewell, we know the lending products that are available, and which can be the most cost-effective for your needs. Rates will vary between providers and will also depend on the level of funding agreed. We also know the most competitive lenders and those who will work with the retail sector. Of course, some lenders have, themselves, shut down with the coronavirus crisis. We know those that have not, and who can be in the best position to provide you with short-term cash as quickly as possible. At Rangewell, we are acknowledged experts in all types of business finance. We can help you find the funding that's best for you and your business whether you're looking for help with a government scheme, looking at new lending - or in need of fresh ways to cut the costs of lending you already have arranged. As businesses start to come out to the crisis, we can provide the financial lifelines you need.

Are you ready to reopen your estate agency?

It is hard to remember now, but the housing market was enjoying some real signs of recovery in the early part of 2020. London estate agents reported their highest buyer interest in 15 years. The numbers of potential buyers were around 92% higher than the equivalent week last year, and up 95% on 2018. There were similar stories across the country - but they all came to an abrupt end as soon as COVID-19 reached our shores. House moves were banned unless essential. Viewings suddenly became impossible. Sellers were refusing to allow visitors into their homes even before lockdown made it official policy. Worse still, valuers were not going out to assess properties for mortgages lending - and lenders themselves had stopped offering loans until the extent of the crisis became clear.  The government’s decision to shut down estate agents as ‘non-essential’ came as no surprise - and many agency owners were actually relieved.  “We didn’t want to show people around homes - we didn’t want to visit them ourselves. We were happy to join the lockdown - although we knew that we could not afford it to last long."  According to property website Zoopla, almost 400,000 existing sales have been stalled during lockdown, the delay in completions meaning estate agents will have to wait longer for their commission. Zoopla estimated that commission payments on the 373,000 stalled sales added up to £1bn. The losses to the industry have meant serious problems - although the vast majority of agency staff have been furloughed, the overheads for most small agents continue to drain what reserves they have.  The news that restrictions were being lifted for the sector - in England at least - came as a surprise to estate agents. Housing secretary Robert Jenrick announced that in-person viewings and completions could resume, estate agents and show homes could open their doors, and conveyancers and removal firms could return to work. So did the fact that there was already some demand from potential buyers.  Restarting work Agents are calling buyers and sellers to ask if they want to continue with deals that were already close to being agreed, and getting in touch with other clients to see whether they are happy for people to view their homes. Most are advising sellers to leave the property while potential buyers are shown around while kitting out their agents with PPE. Agents will wear face masks and gloves while carrying out viewings, will open doors in advance and will sanitise doors and light switches before and afterwards. But business may be slow at first. Surveyors expected sales activity to take around nine months to recover and prices around 11 months to pre-crisis levels. 35% of members said prices could fall by up to 4%, and another 40% of members said prices could fall by more than 4%. It means that even if you have reopened for business, there may not be too many buyers or sellers making their way through them in the next few months - and that the estate agency business will be very competitive. Not every agent who reopens now can expect to stay in business - and keeping very tight control of the costs will be essential if your business is to be one of the survivors. You may have some extra expenses. Health and safety provision may be one of them, but the main challenge for your cashflow - and the survival of your business - will be the lack of income. Instructions may be thin on the ground and you may need to drop your commission rates to secure the business from whatever enquiries come in. Your competitors may be joining you in a race to the bottom in some locations where there are too many agents.  Aside from bricks and mortar businesses, the competition from online agents will not have gone away - and, in fact, it may have become even stronger during lockdown when people have taken to their screens for comfort. So how can you deal with a cash flow crisis that could last for month until the market recovers? At Rangewell we can help you find the answers – and the cash you need. Coping with your cashflow There are many types of funding that you may be able to consider. CBILS, and other government funding schemes, may be available but while there are positives coming from these schemes, you may have other options too in the form of Short-term Finance. Working Capital Finance A Working Capital Loan can be the simplest way to support your cash flow until your income stream is positive again. Working Capital Loans can be used to cover everyday operating expenses, such as your accounts payable and payroll when cash flow is slow. They are simple, short-term loans designed to provide a cash lump sum very quickly - in a matter of days with some lenders - and intended to be paid back in a matter of months. A short-term unsecured loan can often be arranged in a week. So you could get a short-term cash boost to help you cover the costs of bringing back staff and marketing - and pay it off when the investment starts to deliver returns.  Overdraft Replacement An overdraft used to be an everyday business finance facility provided by your bank. Your overdraft would be agreed as part of your business banking arrangements - and for many businesses, it was the main source of credit.. It was simple to use, and let you withdraw cash that you didn’t have in your bank account as you needed it as a short-term loan. You could use it for a few days or a few weeks as a buffer against cashflow slowdowns or deal with larger expenses. Your bank would only charge you for the cash you withdrew and for the time you used it. It could be the ideal way to tide your agency over until a sale was finalised and your commission paid.   But when the credit crunch hit, the banks reduced or removed the overdrafts they extended to small businesses. Revolving Credit, also known as Overdraft Replacement or Alternative Overdraft Funding has grown up to fill the gap. These Alternative Overdrafts are provided by a number of lenders, and offer instant access to funds, just like an overdraft, although no bank account is involved. Instead, a lender provides a line of credit with a limit usually based on your past income. The facility will only mean a charge when you actually use the cash, based on the amount you draw down and the time which you hold it. You can repay at any time, and the funds will be ready for use again. This can be a useful additional source of funding if you need access to small cash sums for short periods, for purposes such as buying in fresh supplies or bringing in PPE. Both secured and unsecured arrangements can be provided, with those arrangements secured on assets usually offering more attractive rates. Refinancing Of course, there is an alternative approach to making new loan agreements - and that is taking a fresh look at loans you already have. The chances are that you already have a wide range of loans and funding agreement in place. Refinancing - replacing these agreement with loans that offer lower rates or longer terms could substantially cut your outgoings. At Rangewell, we can help you find lenders with the kind of rates you need - and help you secure the funding deals you want from them. There is a second way to use refinancing to bring your agency cash at this challenging time.  The equipment that your business already uses - cars, It even things like desks and seating represents a considerable investment. Asset Refinance lets you re-use that investment, while still having full use of your assets. The finance company will buy the asset from you, providing you with a cash sum. You then buy the asset back with a new finance arrangement. You may even be able to refinance your property. By remortgaging your business can receive a cash lump sum comparable to its market value to use as you wish. So existing premises could be used to raise funds - or to seize other opportunities for your business. You simply make monthly mortgage repayments until the property becomes yours again - and it is usually not necessary to have paid off the initial purchase of a property to be able to use it to raise funds in this way.  Getting the help you need to keep your agency afloat Getting the right type of funding for your agency at a challenging time - and getting it quickly - can be vital for its survival. You need cash quickly, but you must be certain that the rates and terms are fair and affordable as your business starts to pick up again. At Rangewell, we know the lending products that are available and which can be the most cost-effective for your needs. Rates will vary between providers and will also depend on the level of funding agreed. We also know the most competitive lenders. Of course, some have themselves shut down with the coronavirus crisis. We know those that have not, and who can be in the best position to provide you with short-term cash as quickly as possible. At Rangewell, we are expert in all types of business finance. We can help you find the funding that's most appropriate for your business and situation, whether you're looking for help with a government scheme, new lending or in need of fresh ways to cut the costs of lending you already have arranged.  During the current crisis, and as we come out of it, we can provide the support you need to find the most suitable funding for your business. Call us now – our experts are ready to help you with your finance problems during the coronavirus crisis - and as we start to come out of it. 

Your manufacturing business after coronavirus

The government's ruling that people who can go to work safely should do so is good news for your manufacturing business. You need a full workforce to run a manufacturing operation. Working from home is not an option if your workplace is a factory floor.  Some factories have shut down with workers concerned about the risk to their health - but the prime minister has said people who cannot work from home, such as those in manufacturing, should be “actively encouraged” to go to work.  It looks as though you can reopen your manufacturing operation if you had shut it down. But there is no point producing goods if you have no orders coming in.  But things do not look positive for the sector just now. The coronavirus lockdown has sent manufacturing in the UK tumbling to the lowest level on record. The latest IHS Markit/Cips Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the UK manufacturing sector, the key measure of economic performance in manufacturing and services, dropped to a survey-record low of 32.6. April. It needs a figure of 50 to indicate business as usual with a steady demand. It is the lowest figure since the survey began more than two decades ago. The customers are just not buying. The activity levels seem to be due to a combination of business closures, shutdowns among clients or shrinking sales due to a slump in non-essential spending. And some sectors are faring worse than others. April’s final PMI figures were released as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders revealed the UK’s new car registrations declined by 97.3 per cent in April, the sharpest drop on record. Cars and vans are not moving off the forecourts as showrooms closed, faced with a dearth of buyers, who were staying locked down at home. Other sectors may not be as badly affected, although there could be similar horror stories in the aerospace sector and in consumer electronics. The problem could be prolonged. Even after the rest of the UK goes back to work, there could be a delay while people feel confident enough to start spending again. The government is starting to look at easing the demands of lockdown, but because of this delay, two out of five manufacturers believe it will take between six to twelve months to return to normal trading conditions after the Covid-19 crisis ends, new research suggests. Industry group, Make UK, said previous levels of output will only return following the reopening of sectors such as automotive and retail and the resumption of consumer spending patterns - which is likely to take several months to achieve. Your business will need to pay wages and suppliers while experiencing severe disruption to your cashflows because of the crisis. What can you do? It looks as though if your business is manufacturing you could be facing some lean months ahead. But there could be some solutions available which could help provide the funding you need. In the present climate, you need to call on government support for your business. Depending on the size of your operation, you may be able to apply for various types of government-backed loans. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme - CBILS  - is aimed at helping small and medium-sized companies keep in business by allowing them to borrow up to £5m at preferential rates. If your business is larger, with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)  works in a similar way, but provides a government guarantee for loans of up to £25 million. Very large firms may be able to consider the Covid Corporate Financing Facility. Whatever manufacturing your business does, get the support you need today to find the most appropriate and affordable funding for your needs But what about after the lockdown is over, and your business is trying to get back to profitability? Trading conditions may be difficult. Your customers are just starting to look at reopening their own businesses after running stocks down at the beginning of the crisis. They may be able to look at placing orders for delivery in the future, but funding for those orders may be difficult for them to arrange. They may demand longer payment terms from you which will make your own financial position even worse. What’s more, conditions could remain challenging for some time. It has been estimated that it could take the UK economy three years to fully recover from the fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic. The solution could be Invoice Finance. What is Invoice Finance? Invoice Financing provides an ongoing credit facility that ensures you get paid quickly even when customers are slow in settling what they owe. It can allow your cash flow to keep pace with your production, rather than lag behind it. Once you have produced and shipped an order, rather than having to wait weeks or months for your invoice to be paid, it lets you take up to 90% of the cash you are owed immediately. The remainder will be paid to you, minus fees, once the customer settles the outstanding balance. Supporting your recovery Invoice Finance can help power your business recovery. If you have to wait to get paid, a big order can actually be a problem – because you don’t have the cash to pay for the stock or staff you need. With Invoice Finance, you know the money will be in your bank almost as soon as you issue an invoice. The more work you do, the more cash you will have to call on. How does Invoice Finance work? Invoice Finance provides ongoing cash advances based on the value of invoices you have issued, but have yet to be paid for. You provide a service or product to your client and agree on payment terms, and follow up with an invoice. You then notify your Invoice Finance lender, who will advance you up to 90% of the value of the invoice as a cash advance, usually within 24 hours of the notification. Once your client pays the invoice, you receive the remaining value of the invoice. At this stage, the lender takes their fees. The type of Invoice Funding you need If your manufacturing business has a turnover of over £25,000 you may be interested in Factoring. This allows the lender to approach the client and collect the debt. This saves you time spent chasing payments and lets you have the support of an experienced credit control team to take care of every aspect of your debt collection. Many providers offer the option of Bad Debt Protection as part of their service, which means even if your customer goes bankrupt or for other reasons fails to pay, you don’t lose out. Invoice Discounting If you already have a credit control facility and your turnover is £100,000 or more, Invoice Discounting might be more appropriate. Once you collect the debt from your client you return the advance to the lender. This can be disclosed or undisclosed - which means you can choose whether you tell your clients you are using Invoice Discounting or not. There are many Invoice Finance providers, and the costs and charges they apply can vary. What’s more, some providers specialise in certain business sectors. To get the Invoice Finance arrangement that’s right for your particular business, you need expert help. At Rangewell, our team of business finance experts work with you to get to know your business and understand the kind of arrangement and features you need. They can help you find lenders who work in your sector and secure the most competitive deal, complete with any extra services – such as bad debt cover – that you need to get back to profitable manufacturing. Just one of the solutions from Rangewell Invoice Finance is just one of the solutions that you can call on. We can provide help with finding the most appropriate providers for funding your manufacturing business, meaning that we know and work with lenders who can provide the scale of funding you need for your production operation, whatever scale you may operate on, and understand the challenges your business faces. We can work with you to discuss options like bad debt protection and find the most competitive funding for your needs. Whether we can help you find the answers to your needs with a loan under CBILS, or need more extensive answers such as Asset Refinance or even a remortgage to keep your business alive, our team is ready to help.  We know all the lenders across the markets, and we can work with you to find the most cost-effective answers to your funding needs. We can help you find the cash you need to get back to work - and building a future for your business. To find out more, simply call us today.

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