10 Tips To Help SME's Survive #Covid19
Updated: Mar 27
The Minister for Finance, Paschal Dohohue, today announced measures to help people deal with the financial strain of COVID-19. These measures include:
Flexible arrangements for business and personal customers with their banks - including 3 month payment breaks where necessary (customers are advised to contact their bank)
Contactless payments to increase to €50 in the interests of public health policy
Making sure that people can continue to access banking services
The Government is offering extensive supports for SME customers – banks are working to ensure a wide range of credit, cash flow and supply chain supports are offered to businesses who are trying to manage the pressures arising from COVID-19. A deferral of up to 3-months on loan repayments will be of assistance to many businesses.
In addition, the banks are adopting a customer-focused approach to these businesses with a wide variety of tailored supports including extensions of credit lines, risk guarantees, and trade finance
The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, today (Wednesday) welcomed the ongoing work of the Central Bank of Ireland, Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), and the Revenue Commissioners to support customers in difficulties due to COVID-19. “Today, I had a constructive meeting with the five CEOs of our retail banks and with Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI). I note that a meeting will also be held with the Central Bank tomorrow. I welcome the ongoing work that is taking place to assist customers who are impacted by COVID-19. "The proposed actions by the banks will build on the government response, and the European Central Bank’s monetary and regulatory policy measures to deliver real support to individuals, SMEs and companies in these difficult times. These actions are the translation of European and national policies into individual supports that best assist the needs of our bank customers in the period ahead.”
1 - Digital Marketing is your Friend Right Now
We have a crisis … and it is affecting everyone! How you deal with people now will stand to you post Covid19 and beyond. Give the customer a reason to buy from you right now. Keep them informed via Facebook and Twitter - If you change your hours - The way they can collect - The services you can offer – even can you post the goods? Can you offer your business in a different way? Can you make the customers life #StayAtHome a little easier? If you use Social Media well it might make the difference between you surviving or not! Have a read of how to make your Social Media Posts stand Out HERE
2 - Service your surviving customers like nothing else
There are still people with money. Now is the time to throw in the free dessert, the room upgrade, the matching belt, something to thank them for being a lovely person and spending cash with you instead of wasting it on another half-pallet of toilet paper. Now is the time you can make them a customer for life. Can you change your business model to provide service to your Customer but not like they know -
- Forest Ave Restaurant has change to a Neighborhood Greengrocer Store selling produce from the Markets that are closed and artisan producers. See more HERE
- Louis Copland has introduced Virtual Personal Shopping where you can have a consultation by Facetime and then 40% discount when you buy from the Online Store. See more HERE
- Michaels of Mount Merrion and Nightmarket in Ranelagh are offering Drive By Take Away where you preorder, pay and Drive by to collect at a set time. The first night he sold 220 meals. See more about Michaels HERE and Nightmarket HERE
3 - Keep your existing customers.
The old saying 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Now is the time to really look after them. Don’t cut so much of your business expenses that you can no longer service your customers. With #Covid19 restrictions – is there something you can do to make your customers life easier. Can you deliver in a different way? Can you drop at a different place? Now is the time to remind your customers why they chose you in the first place. If it’s because you’re the most cost-effective, remind your customers that your low prices are even more important during the recession. If you’re not the cheapest, but you offer a premier product or superior customer service, remind your customers of the exceptional value you offer — and perhaps offer new payment terms to help with their cash flow.
4 - Contact your best customers.
Call or email your best customers. Tell them you appreciate their loyalty and continued patronage. Ask them to talk to you if they have any concerns. Let them know you’re willing to work with them to keep their business. Let them know you’re also concerned about their needs…. And we are all trying to survive together. You can keep your Customers informed about what you are offering or any changes you are making by Blog on your Website. If you want some help to get started have a read of my Blog on How To Get Started HERE
5 - Come up with new ideas for your pricing and terms
Think about how you can get paid up front. Can you sell Gift Vouchers? You want the work so bad but now is the time to tighten up your payment terms, not loosen them. Do a sweet deal for payment upfront. Get payment in stages rather than at the end of a project. Companies with purchasing budgets will still have to spend that cash by the end of financial year, coronavirus or not.
6 - Update your terms and conditions
A priority right now is the cancellation clauses in terms and conditions. I recognise that doesn’t sound cool, but it’s all that stands between business and extinction. Not that everyone is all about black-and-white enforcement of contract; even our hardest negotiations are done by talking like reasonable people. But in times like these you need a place to start that conversation.
Have checked your terms and conditions? If your business has grown a lot - They might leave you wide open to danger. A cancellation on a small job isn’t terminal. A few BIG ones are.
Plus, they were written on the olden-days assumption of a few random cancellations every so often, rather than every single client rushing for the exits. So update your cancellation clauses with more realistic lead times and fees that accurately reflect the hard losses you may incur due to #Covid19.
7 - Have the COVID-19 chat with suppliers
You will owe money to two sorts of organisations: the business suppliers you work with every week, and large ogres like landlords, banks and the tax office. The first cares about your ongoing survival, the second … not so much.
Talk to your regular suppliers and be honest. Don’t screw suppliers out of their last cent, because one day you’ll need them. Did you do that? Because now is that time. Ask them to help you survive, in whatever way they can, so you can be a good, ongoing customer in future. This crisis is not for ever and we will all be back in business again. Don’t burn your bridges!
You can have a talk with landlords and banks, there are facilities being put in place with the Banks to work with Businesses. It might be possible to get a deal with your landlord to push part of the rent back into the second half of the year. Commercial landlords are being advised to with Businesses on this.
8 - Talk to the tax office
Here’s what you do: call the tax office and tell them honestly about the state of your business. Ask for a payment plan. With smaller businesses– and the tax office has never been anything other than reasonable – there is a plan being put in place to reschedule payments of Vat ect. Be grateful for this reprieve and take paying it off very seriously. Don’t delay payment any longer than you need to.
9 - Get a discount on utilities.
Consider all your utilities like water, power, Internet, and phones. Check one of the comparison sites. Call your vendors’ competitors and ask what kind of deal they can offer a small business looking to save money on their utilities. Let them know you’re willing to switch vendors if they can give you a big discount (even if it’s just for the first year). The frontline sales reps will often have unadvertised discounts they can offer new customers. All you have to do is ask for them. Once you know how much you can save by switching, call your current vendors. Get them to match the offer so you don’t actually have to go through the trouble of switching.
10 - Don’t wait for the government to rescue you
A lot of business people like to complain that the government doesn’t do enough to help them. This is a dangerous, cargo-cult mentality because you’re waiting for them to do something.
The whole point of owning a business is having control over your own destiny. Deal with your own affairs as if there was no government help coming. If it does come - Treat it as an unexpected bonus but there is no governmental superhero coming to save you in the final scene of your COVID-19 movie. It’s up to you.
Is there something else you can do for a bit?
Today I heard of an exhibition stand constructor that is being smashed by cancellations, so they’re turning their cabinetmakers, carpenters and equipment to do kitchens and wardrobes for a sweet deal. People are happy to put the word out to help in desperate times. What else could you do to get bit of cash in and keep your team together?