At JPA Brenson Lawlor we are advising clients to plan for recovery now, not later. Below, we have set out our Top Ten Tips for HAI members that you could act on now.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have looked internationally to understand what is coming down the track in terms of infection and lock-down. The approach should be the same for business. Business owners need to begin to put plans in place for the recovery, it may be slow, but it will happen.
Our Top Ten Tips are:
1. Plan for the safety and wellbeing of staff and customers
Keep talking to your staff and follow the up to date HSE/Government advice. Prepare for the safety measures that need to be put in place for your customers. This is likely to include physical distancing, reduced access to stores and even something as simple as doing business while talking through face masks. Make sure you identify and implement your physical safeguarding measures and discuss these with your staff before re-opening begins.
2. Prepare for increased demand
Hardware businesses have suffered a shocking fall-off in business and all stores have had to make cuts. But do not cut back so far that when reopening you cannot deal with increased demand. This is important. Watch your stock and use your years of experience to get the balance right.
3. Communicate with your suppliers
Be open and frank with suppliers. We are all in this together.
Agree payment arrangements and terms for stock that you have not yet paid for, ask what is fair for your business and theirs alike. Successful business relationships are based on trust. You may need more stock and support from your suppliers to meet a potential surge in demand, so you need your suppliers to have trust in you and support your business.
4. Understand new supply channels
Consumer behaviours and habits have probably changed for the foreseeable future. We never thought we would all be buying so many products on-line. There is no reason why this is going to change. Review your on-line presence, how can you make this better and benefit from the new consumer buying patterns. Dark clouds can have silver linings. This may be the push you needed to get your business online or E-commerce enabled. Hardware Association Ireland and your Local Enterprise Offi ces have information and advice to help businesses improve their online presence.
5. Assess your financial and operational risk
Your business has been through a massive financial shock.This is the time you need to complete a full fi nancial assessment of the business taking into account;
6. Benefit from Government Supports
JPA Brenson Lawlor and Hardware Association Ireland have prepared a comprehensive list of the various Government supports available to HAI members. Make sure you are availing of all the supports for which you are entitled. Even the smallest things can make a difference. For example, Revenue has recently introduced temporary changes to the Small Gifts Exemption whereby the annual tax free gift of €500 can be split, whereas previously it was one gift only per annum, this is to facilitate employers to reward staff in a tax efficient manner.
7. Build resilience and prepare for the ‘new normal’
We are accountants so we can’t predict the future but using common sense it looks like businesses will have to adapt to what is being called ‘the new normal’. So, be prepared to challenge yourself, your business and your staff. What was in the past doesn’t have to be in the future.
8. Talk to Revenue
Many businesses have deferred PAYE and VAT payments for a number of months. These amounts add up. If you are not an SME you need to formally apply to the Revenue to advise them of non-payment of taxes. These monies will need to be paid over eventually, make sure you put robust plans in place to deal with this. Again, take advice.
9. One BIG positive
Some economists are hoping for a sharp V shaped recovery. Others are talking about a slower U shape pick up. But all economists agree that there will be a recovery, fast or slow. The country still needs a massive infrastructure built and HAI members are the frontline in helping that happen. If you can remain resilient for the next short few months the turn will be worth waiting for.
10. Your own mental health
Like anyone in business you have been to hell and back in just a matter of weeks. This is defi nitely not good for any of us. If you find the strain too much make sure to talk to someone. Talking and sharing, does help.
This Business Support article featured in the May/June 2020 edition of The Hardware Journal.