BUSINESS TIPS TO HELP SME’S SURVIVE COVID -19

by | Mar 18, 2020 | Covid-19, Health & Safety, Leave & Policies, News & Events, Redundancy & Restructuring

As businesses start to feel the pinch of COVID-19, here are some measures to assist you to adapt your current business practices, take advantage of the Government assistance, and how to consult with your employees if more serious measures are required.

As strict self-isolation measures have been instituted, we have seen tourism grinding to a halt, and knock on effects in hospitality and other sectors.  Locally too we have seen thousands of planned events cancelled or postponed, which is having a real effect on businesses.  In response the Government has announced suite of comprehensive support mechanisms for businesses impacted by COVID-19 health protocols.  The Government support package aims to keep as many people in employment through this period as possible.  This is great news, and, as business owners, we also have to do our bit to ensure we are doing all we can to weather this storm.

Measures being adopted are:

  1. Postpone big events early – Late cancellation of events has a huge knock on effect. Keep your attendees informed of your thinking and/or postpone earlier rather than later so that everyone can make alternative plans
  2. Postpone overseas travel
  3. Talk to staff who are planning overseas trips – Any person leaving NZ now faces the risk that, on their return they will have to either serve a 14 day self-quarantine period, or they may find that one or more Border along their travel route has been closed and they can’t get back to NZ. Have an honest discussion with them about how you would respond if they decide to take the trip with that knowledge.

It is not available to those who can work from home during the period of self-isolation, and who can be paid normally by their employer.

Areas we are covering:

  1. Ideas to help your business adapt
  2. Who pays for self-isolation time?
  3. Need to cut staff costs, at least temporarily?
  4. Risks of reducing wages paid?
  5. Ways to reduce Staff costs
  6. Consultation process
  7. Free consultation template
  8. Need more help?

Ideas to help your business adapt –Think outside the box!

Although the business impacts will vary, one thing is for sure – we all need to be thinking how can we do business differently? Especially in the face of our requirement to practice social distancing to fight back against the spread of COVID-19.

Here are some ideas to assist your businesses maintain social distancing and keep working

Office based workers

  1. Prepare and set up systems for remote working – though you may not need to close your office at present, businesses need to be thinking about how you can work from home, if self isolation is required, having your systems in place, will assist with your business continuity planning. Consider:
    1. Cloud based systems – can your team members access work remotely?
    2. Do you have enough laptops to facilitate work from home arrangements?
    3. Diverting work phone numbers –to private phone numbers/mobile numbers
    4. Can you issue pay as you go temporary mobile phones for workers to work remotely?
  2. Virtual meetings – do you need to meet face to face or can the meeting be managed by phone or video conference- there are great facilities that many businesses are using already; Zoom /Skype and Facebook

Retail

If you have fewer customers coming through the door consider:

  1. Can you offer delivery services for customers? Rather than waiting for customers to come to you and can you deliver to your customers? Remember that deliveries can be dropped off on doorsteps without having to compromise social distancing protocols.
  2. Do sell through your website?, or could you adapt your website to allow for this? Adapting a non-e-commerce website may be expensive and time consuming, but you may be able to do ‘work arounds’ such as phone or e-mail orders with payments made by internet banking or over the phone

Tourism

With the significant drop in overseas tourists what can you do to attract the local market?

  • Specials for locals? Not only is this a good way of getting some business in, it is also a good way to promote your attractions to those people who live locally. Word of mouth referrals are a great way to get business, but the locals can only rave about you if they have   experienced your tourist attraction.   So use the quiet time to get a few more “Ravers”
  • Using Grab-a-deal types of online specials to stimulate your business.
  • Promote to the domestic market? There is a large pool of New Zealanders who have had to cancel or are in the process of cancelling their overseas trips. This is if you will excuse the pun – a “captive market”.

Hospitality

  • Look at your processes and service and reduce contact points– already many cafes are not accepting keeper cups (as an interim measure). Serve coffee without the lid on -giving your clientele the ability to pop the lid on themselves
  • Have hand sanitiser by the eftpos machine and at key areas in your café.
  • If your foot traffic has reduced consider offering a delivery service, or utilise Uber Eats to facilitate your food sales, consider pre-prepared meals – this has proved successful in other countries with COVID-19

Workers who go to multiple places of work (e.g. Trades)

For Tradies working on mixed sites, it is more difficult to maintain social distancing.  Some ways to limit risk may be:

  • Have clear communications and expectations on how your tradies would like to be communicated to regarding any COVID-19 incidences (A site noticeboard)
  • Ensure tradies have alcohol wet wipes in their vans
  • If tradies are doing private work, they should phone and check if anyone is self-isolating at the residence. Check if they job can be delayed until the end of the isolation period, or there is some other way they can be kept apart from your workers?
  • Reinforce social distancing protocols e.g. no handshakes, Hongi’s, high-fives or Hugs , keep a few meters distance between people, use hand sanitisers
  • Ask if they work can be completed at a time when no-one it home

Supply chain issues?

Can you source from within NZ?  Do you need to offer that particular product, or is there an alternative?   Proactively preempt issues and keeping your customers informed is essential.  So, look at what you provide that comes from overseas, and work out your contingency plans.  Supply chain issues were felt from China long before the borders were closed because the Chinese companies simply didn’t have the workers at work to fulfil the orders.

Who pays for self-isolation?

The government has mandated everyone returning from overseas (except the Pacific Islands) has to self-isolate for 14 days.  If you are required to self-isolate – who pays, when most people have only 5 days sick leave per annum?

The government’s relief packages for businesses can assist.  The government will pay

  • $585.80 per week for a full time employee (20 hrs or more)
  • $350.00 per week for a part time employee (less than 20 hrs).

Wage subsidies will be available for all employers that are significantly impacted by COVID-19 and are struggling to retain employees. The scheme will be open to sole traders and the self-employed as well as firms.