Coronavirus: keeping your business busy
The Coronavirus is probably the biggest event that many of us will ever see. Around the world, businesses have been forced to close, lockdowns are in place, and the UK has woken up to the strictest rules ever seen in peacetime.
Businesses in every sector are facing confusion and anxiety about the impact that the pandemic will have on their future. To combat this, we’ve put together some points to help keep your business busy.
Do you have to close?
Some businesses like shops and pubs have been shut by legal decree, while others have chosen to close down to protect staff.
But even if you are in the categories that have been forced to close, you might not need to shut down altogether. If you are a retailer, you may be able to look at online business. If you run a restaurant or a pub with a commercial kitchen, you may be able to offer takeaways.
Your takings might be down, especially at first, but you may be able to keep the business ticking over - and some income could be better than none.
‘Non-essential’ shops have shut - but there is no reason why your business has to wind down its online operations.
Of course, if yours is a B2B operation, you don’t need to close at all. Clients may be harder to find, but that just means your sales team, your marketing team and your customer service team will have to work harder.
Can you set up an online workplace?
Many businesses which could stay open are considering shutting down to protect staff.
If your business is physical, there may be little scope for working from home, but for office workers, a virtual workplace is now entirely possible.
You may need to invest in some computer systems but with the right software and some investment in hardware, your business could carry on working. After all, if your staff spend their time glued to a screen, they can be just as productive if that screen is in their home as it is in your office.
You need to keep the team motivated and talking to each other. Virtual meetings are the solution, and a daily catch-up using software such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams, or Skype could make them simple.
You benefit just as your staff do, of course. You can lead video meetings and have one-to-one conversations without leaving your own home too.
If you need to arrange funding for the IT you need, call us at Rangewell. We know the most cost-effective ways to provide the hardware and software you might need to support homeworking.
If an online workplace can be a solution for your internal teams, what about your customer-facing staff? Events across the globe have been cancelled and so have flights which would get your sales teams to them. You can’t go and see that hot prospect, whether he or she is one the other side of the world, or the other side of your town.
But you can use video conferencing to offer virtual meetings. These may take a little getting used to, but with some preparation, they can be just as effective as the old-fashioned face to face meetings.
And if events such as trade shows are cancelled? Invite the people you really want to talk to to seminars and webinars that you have created. They have time on their hands at the moment - it could be a good time to reach them, and impress with your ability to innovate. Remember, your contacts, prospects, clients, and even your lapsed customers all need new ways to deal with the fallout of this pandemic. They want help - and if you deliver it, they will want to do business with you.
You could even use your website as a portal to launch a personal service when a potential customer visits.
Updating your existing web presence may be costly - but it is an investment in your business that you might need to make. At Rangewell, we can find ways to help you afford the costs of web design and development.
Have you sent out that email yet?
We’ve all been inundated. Every company that you’ve ever given your email address to has suddenly started telling you about what they are doing to survive the crisis, in great detail.
You have better ways to spend your time and are probably already ignoring them, but there is a good reason to send them - if you get the content right. An email is actually a great way to demonstrate that your business is dealing with the problems and is ready to help.
You can’t just send out the same emails that were part of your marketing campaign a month ago. You need to acknowledge the new realities and include content based around them. If your potential customers are seeing the same old posts as before, with no acknowledgement of the current situation, it could have a very negative effect.
Instead of being impressed by your business as usual approach, they’re likely to think of you as unprepared, unconcerned and disconnected from the reality that faces them. Demonstrate that you have an agile approach to business and that you understand the new challenges your contacts are facing, and your email can become a powerful marketing tool again - especially if you can make special offers to answer their needs during the crisis.
Tell them the new lines you have introduced for the emergency, or the new ways of doing business with you. Tell them your new opening hours, or the fact that your website is now able to take their orders.
You may need to rethink your marketing. Are there any special offers you could be making now? Do you want to highlight the fact that - even though your shop or showroom is shut - you have some great deals for deliveries, for example? Are there any special terms you could offer? Everyone needs a bargain at the moment.
Check on your marketing
The first thing that many companies do in a crisis is to cut their marketing budget, and cutting all advertising and online content is a tempting way to save - but it could actually be costly.
If your business is no longer seen to be in business, people will assume you are not - and take their custom elsewhere, to those competitors who are working harder to bring that business in.
Marketing is not a luxury for the good times - it is a necessity for all trading conditions, and for difficult times most of all. Cut back marketing now, and you cut back on the numbers of customers who will be calling - the very lifeblood of your business.
Cutting back on your efforts now might save money in the short-term, but it will cut your profits in the short and the long-term.
Sort out your finances
Of course, every business runs on money and you will need to make the most of your financial resources.
Various grants and loan schemes are available from the government, but it could be time to look at your existing arrangements and make sure that they really are the best for your business.
Cutting a few points off an existing finance deal could cut your monthly repayments, saving you money each month and easing any cashflow worries you have brewing.
At Rangewell, we are experts in all types of business finance and we can help you find the funding that's most appropriate for you - whether you're looking for help with a government scheme, new lending - or ways to cut the costs of lending you already have arranged. During the current crisis we can provide the quickest way to find the funding you need.
Call us now – our experts are ready to help you with your finance problems during the coronavirus crisis.
We understand the pressures you are under – and our service is absolutely free.