Like every New Zealander, this past week has provided us with some level of uncertainty and concern. Concern for our country, our friends, our family, and of course, our business.
At SafeSmart Access, after ensuring the welfare of our staff and colleagues and putting preparations in place for the shut-down, the next task was to contact our customers, advising of our status and offering any support we can.
Ex-scaffolding company owner and Business Consultant, Paul Seagar from 5th Green, has this advice for us all:
“In addition to tasks like applying for the government staff wage subsidy, or understanding essential service status requirements, there may be costs in your business for services that you don’t need during the shutdown. If you can suspend payment of these expenses you should. One of the first calls you should be making is to your Landlord regarding your lease. There’s a high chance your rent will be waived or reduced during this time. But you’ve got to have the conversation and be prepared to negotiate.”
Another example is software user licenses – perhaps there are fewer people using the tool at this time. Paul recommends you review your expenses and make any changes you can to remove these kinds of costs in the short term. However, Paul does stress that we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater: make sure you retain assets and services which will support your recovery once we return to normal trading.
For almost all businesses in the construction industry, this unprecedented suspension of business activity is beyond our control. However, the choice we do have is the way in which we react and adapt.
While many of our staff are still busy dealing with what needs to be done in the short term, almost all our more than sixty-five staff will have significant down-time during this shut-down period. Herein lies the opportunity, or the silver lining!
During this downtime, our production team have more time to review processes for improvements in quality and efficiency. Our design team have an opportunity to work on new product concepts and designs or research new technological tools. Sales and customer service staff will collaborate on ways to keep making it easier for our customers to do business with us and implementing new programmes to achieve a better customer experience.
Keeping Business Focused
“This is not a holiday!” says Paul Seagar.
This is not a time to work on our backyard golf putt or to sit on the couch with popcorn and Netflix. The silver lining to this passing cloud is the unique opportunity for business owners to work ON their business instead of IN their business. Are you cash flow positive? Do you know who your most lucrative customers or customer segments are, and do you actively target these markets in order to get the best bang for your buck? What markets may be losing you money and what can you do about it? These are all questions Paul suggests business owners should be seeking answers to and can be answered with some time and analysis.
How can your staff who have been taken off the tools help? While these staff cannot earn money for the business during the shut-down, how can they contribute to improving the business from home in the meantime? Perhaps this time could be spent on researching new products and technology that could provide efficiencies within the business. Staff may be able to help with developing company health and safety systems and procedures or developing documentation to qualify the business for SARNZ membership.
Now is not a time to sit on the side-line and wait till play starts again. It is a time to change your tactics and leverage this unplanned downtime. We at SafeSmart certainly are, and we would love to hear from you if we can help you with any improvements you might be making. Paul Seagar is also available for consultation should you need ideas and advice on how you could be using this time for ongoing efficiencies.
Above all, please stay safe, stay home, and stay happy!