How you can ensure business survival during lockdown?

A pandemic seems all very ethereal up until it has a direct impact on you, your family, your friends or your business. In this blog, I will focus on your business as you look to survive this third national lockdown.

The first question to ask yourself what impact has COVID had on your business? Consider your sales, costs, employee absences, supplier disruption, productivity and your business model. I will explore how impacts can be minimised for each business area:

Sales – how easy are your products or services to buy?
  • Make sure that people stuck at home are aware that your products exist
    • target your audience with flyers, via the letter box. Call local newsagents or printing companies to arrange this
    • talk to a few of your existing customers. Do they typically like other common brands in addition to your own? Would affiliate partnering or reciprocal promotion work for your brand? Examples include Hotel Chocolat deliveries and third party wine special offers and fuel stations and Costa coffee.
    • write and publish relevant facebook posts and then pay a few pounds to boost the post to your target audience.
    • offer to setup a Whatsapp video call if the customer would like to see the product before purchase
    • remove any friction points that your sales funnel may have.
    • have a clear and simple returns policy, money back guarantee or free trial offer
    • encourage your customers to bulk buy now, just in case your supply chain is disrupted further into the lockdown.
  • Ensure that your customers can get your products
    • offer free delivery to their home if they spend over a certain amount.
    • choose a reliable courier to deliver your products. DPD, UPS and Royal Mail are all good for deliveries within the UK.
Costs – which costs do you have control over?
  • Labour costs
    • furlough staff hours if they are not fully utilised
    • review use of contractors, can any projects be deferred or cancelled?
  • Office space costs
    • if your rent or lease is coming up for renew consider downsizing to a small office. Can some or all of your staff remain working from home indefinitely? Can you outsource any work to a third party and save on costs?
    • would your landlord accept deferred payments if it become completely necessary? There is no cost to asking the question ahead of time. Ask if they have done this for any other of their tenants.
  • Interest on loans
    • if you haven’t already, ask your accountant what bank and government support there is for deferring loan repayments
  • Suppliers
    • the market is constantly changing. When was the last time you shopped around for better suppliers?
Employee absences – know your options
  • Employees who have COVID
    • not all employees with COVID recover quickly and some might never return to work. Now is the time to consider which roles in your organisation will need a backup, if the person is off sick for a long time. You have three options:
      1. not have their work done until they return to work
      2. train up another member of staff to act as deputy and plan resource allocation if that person is required to perform the deputy role for any length of time
      3. outsource the work to an external third party
  • Employees who are shielding
    • if they cannot work from home then consider furloughing employees
    • outsource their work
    • consider getting a temporary contractor in, to cover their role
Supplier disruption – develop your plan B’s
  • There is never a good time to plan for disaster recovery, but this does need to be done.
    • create a list of all your suppliers and identify which one’s will damage your business should they fail to supply you for COVID reasons.
    • decide which back up plan is best for each supplier:
      • find a similar supplier and enquire about lead times for new customers, consider buying a half of your supply needs from them until the pandemic is over
      • get the work done by in-house employees, possibly as paid overtime
      • stock up on supplies if they are non-perishable items
      • change supplier to one that can guarantee you that COVID will not affect their supply to you and are willing to back that up with a financial penalties contract
Productivity – mind the gap
  • Some steps to consider if your business productivity falls
    • remote working employees who now have to home school their children.
      • consider furloughing this group during the mornings so that you are not paying them to home school their children
      • allow and possibly encourage your employees to work in the evenings and give them time to do home schooling during the day
    • remote working employees who are struggling with observable work output
      • ask them to complete a time and activity survey for one whole week. Gain an insight in what they are doing every half an hour and advise on any changes you want to see going forward
      • don’t be shy in arranging a daily or weekly video call for the same time or day. Ask them for ideas to how they could increase their productivity in the nicest possible way
    • office based employees
      • address any concerns they may have e.g. catching COVID and present all the possible solutions
      • monitor stress levels and consider seeking free advice from professional associations, unions or government websites
Your business model – can it be adapted?
  • Questions you should ask yourself, regarding your business model
    • can it be adapted to take advantage of new opportunities, such as?
      • bored people looking to invest in a hobby
      • bored people looking for cheap distractions, family orientated activities
      • busy people looking for home help services
      • people stuck at home
      • people’s increased time on social media
      • people’s anxieties and concerns
    • can it be adapted to save on costs
      • do you still need your current insurance cover level?
      • do you still need to be office based?
      • do you still need a company car?
      • can you cut back on business travel?

At My Marketing Dept we work with our clients to grow their profits and this can be achieved through a combination of increased sales and cost reduction. We can begin work on any outsourced marketing work the next working day or provide marketing sub-contractors, if your workplace is COVID compliant. If you are interested to know how we would go about increasing your profits then contact us.

Published by Andre Alford

As a registered Chartered Marketer since 2013, Andre has supported the growth of four businesses totalling £61m in combined additional revenue. He has full service marketing experience ranging from product definition to organizing tradeshows, PR campaigns and advertising campaigns. Previously a Chartered Engineer too, Andre is a person of considerable vision that has enabled him to come up with multiple innovative ideas and patents. His management experience comes from managing large teams, large projects and from being a director on the board of a web-directory service. Andre’s management style is a coaching-type one, where he enjoys helping others to discover and exploit their natural talents.

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