New Zealand is preparing to move into Alert Level 3 and the good news is trade businesses will be able to ‘open’. But there will still be plenty of restrictions. Whatever your individual scenario, we wanted to share our top tips on how you can help your business to be more prepared through Alert Level 3 and beyond.
Here are our top tips:
1. Cashflow and Business Planning
In our previous article, we talked about the benefits of getting up to date on your business planning – understanding your cash flow and budgets and forecasting your workflow for the months ahead.
If you haven’t completed this – or even started – now is a good time to do it so that you’re prepared for Level 3, as well as the subsequent levels and can get back into the swing of things a little faster.
- When you’re forecasting, think about various scenarios and factor those in. For instance, what each of the Alert Levels – 3, 2 and 1 – will look like for your business now that we have more detail.
- It’s likely many businesses will need to consider a bank loan to get back on their feet. If this is the case for you, make sure you know what your bank’s position is on borrowing right now. And check in with your accountant if you haven’t already.
- See if you can cut costs but without compromising your business – drill down on suppliers, insurance, leases. Are discounts available? If it applies to you, can your landlord provide rental relief – if you ask, they may be willing.
- Check that you have all your invoicing up to date, follow up with payments that are still outstanding and finalise any new job quotes you may want to revisit.
The first tip here is to be gentle. Everyone has had some major challenges thrust upon them with COVID-19, whether personal or financial. So, it’s important to show kindness and patience with your staff. Make sure you take an interest in checking in with them and their families – then they’ll go the extra mile for you, too.
Remember that communication is vital. Your team, as always, will be key to your success when business gets back to some sort of normal. Keep them updated and clearly share what the next steps will be for your business and for them as employees.
- Early on, think about each of your staff members and make sure you know their personal situation. For instance, do they have children that they will still need to home school? Will they have other challenges that may restrict them from returning to work?
- If you were short on staff before Lockdown, is there an opportunity to reach out to other staff who have been let go by their employers? Or, alternatively, do you need to help some of your staff find work elsewhere if you don’t anticipate enough for them all?
- Now could be an opportunity to also consider restructuring your teams – if there are those that are showing clear leadership skills or, conversely, those who aren’t as reliable. Remember to check staff contracts first though and consult www.business.govt.nz for further clarification.
3. Health & Safety
As a business owner, it’s critical for you to gain as much of an understanding as you can around Alert Level 3 and beyond. This is so you know how to operate your business within the Health and Safety guidelines and keep the health and wellbeing of your employees and clients top of mind.
- Read the Government COVID-19 website carefully so you understand all the ins and outs, as well as this one that relates specifically to construction standards and protocols.
- Remember that as a business owner, you must show leadership by putting in place clear health and safety rules for all your staff.
- Think about the PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) your staff may need to return to in-home services and secure that for them.
- Include hygiene measures, such as hand sanitiser.
- Put in place a Contact Register for staff on sites.
- Create a workflow plan that respects physical distancing.
- Communicate to your staff how important it is that they follow these requirements and make sure you follow these yourself.
- Be aware, there may be some staff that don’t feel safe coming back to work just yet, so take that into consideration as well.
- As a business, it’s a good idea to create a risk plan that outlines exactly how you plan to keep both your customers and your staff safe. Put this on your company website and Facebook page, so it’s clear to all that you have health and safety top of mind.
Of course, like all of us, your clients will have also found the effects of COVID-19 challenging. It’s important to be mindful of this as you check back in with them.
- If you haven’t already, communicate with your clients and ensure they know you are ready and able to pick up where you left off if they have jobs on-hold, and that you are prepared to be flexible to fulfil the client’s needs.
- Let your clients know in advance that you will be strictly adhering to health and safety rules – so they feel confident in the knowledge you have it covered.
- Put information of your commitment to health and safety up on your website, Facebook page and on every client communication.
- Remember, this is another opportunity to look at your client base overall and see if there are any new markets you may want to diversify into.
The effects of COVID-19 have seen some big changes occur for many businesses. But rather than just returning to the way you always ran things, try to keep thinking innovatively when it comes to your business.
- Keep an open mind and take time to think and plan – you just never know where there might be a new marketing opportunity.
- Continue to update and streamline your processes – build on what you learnt from lockdown Level 4, such as any new technology that could help your business going forward.
- Think about communication with your staff – perhaps you found that communicating with them via video chats brought your team a sense of camaraderie. How can you keep that team feeling alive?
- Keep talking to your mentors and trusted advisors and keep in touch with the industry groups you belong to. There are many people facing the same challenges – and collectively you may find solutions you hadn’t thought of before.
Try to think of it as a new beginning, an opportunity to reset what may not have been working so well before Lockdown. This kind of positivity can go a long way to helping you and your team make the most out of a challenging situation.