Surviving a business apocalypse
Unless you are already locked down in a bunker in the middle of the country with no internet or media access, its safe to say you have been overwhelmed with information on the Corona Virus (CV) outbreak. What looked like a simple flu has now caused mass panic, hysteria and worldwide lockdown. Whatever your theories on this virus, from a virus jumping species to bio warfare and the 101 other conspiracy theories we are seeing pop up on our newsfeed the last 2 weeks, one thing is certain – not one of us was EVER prepared for this! As a previous salon owner, I have policies and procedures in place for a whole host of possible events, fire, robberies, terrorism and even severe weather. One of my salons was so secure we used to joke that in the event of a zombie apocalypse we would camp out there as it was impenetrable. Jokes aside, we may be on the verge of just that!
The question on everyone’s lips are how serious is this virus? Why are people panic buying and how are self-employed, small business owners going to survive? How many of you have set aside a portion of money for a rainy day? How long can you survive with zero income? I would imagine very few of us have ever thought the money would just dry up.
What we need to work on now is an immediate plan of action that helps us continue to create a revenue stream in times of lockdown. Start to make plans that mean once this is over you can start to earn money once again. The most important thing salons need to do is to stay open for as long as we can. Ensure you put in place a strict protocol for preventing the spread of the virus to you, your staff or other clients. Still take deposits and booking fees, but advice clients in the event of them falling ill, the treatment can be rescheduled. The booking fees will help to keep you afloat over the following weeks. Remind clients if they show any symptoms of CV from a fever to a dry cough or runny nose etc to stay home. Ask that all personal belongings remain in their bags or pockets during the treatment, clients should also wash their hands before a procedure. Door handles, light switches, card machines, desks, phones, work surfaces, keyboards and anything else touched by you or a client should be sanitised. Hands should be washed before and after each treatment and handling money etc. Staff should be reassured about their job security over this time. Staff should be retrained in proper hygiene protocols and transmission prevention. Speak to your accountant about options in place such as sick pay for when your staff show any signs of illness. Start to come up with ideas and offers that will allow money to be brought into the business before, during and after a lockdown. For example:
Nail businesses, can you put together home removal kits so clients can remove nails at home. This kit can be charged at around £10-£15. Add in a small bowl, small bottle of acetone and two nail files. Put a small ‘how too’ video online to show clients how to remove their nails safely.
Create mini DIY takeaway facial kits. Use smaller travel bottles and takeaway tins (similar to those you get your curry in) and add in small amounts of professional cleanser, mild peel, face mask and serum etc. Do a mini ‘how to’ tutorial online.
Run special offers on ‘contactless’ treatments. Things like laser lipo, cryo lipo, LED facials, and spray tans.
What will clients need after a lock down? Waxing? Nails removed and replaced? Hair extension refits? Think that clients may be overdue appointments. Clients may also be living off SSP or be short on funds themselves. Look at offers to ease them back when the panic or lockdown is over. Perhaps discounts on waxing packages, free nail extension removal with each new set, free brow tidy with any pedicure etc.
Business may be slower to pick up again as people get back on their feet. Ensure to take deposits so the client can secure special offers. This will give you an immediate income right now. Provide incremental deposits for your most loyal customers where they receive 50% off a treatment on their first visit back, 40% off their 2nd visit 2 weeks later, 30% off their next visit 2 weeks after that and so on. Do not offer this to everyone but choose your top 20 most frequent clients to guarantee an income over the following 2 months. The most vital thing you need to do is get bookings back in the diary.
If schools are closed for long periods of time then look at ways to help staff with childcare. Could you offer them reduced working hours. Would you allow older children to come into work with the staff member? Would you allow children to come in with clients? Have you thought about providing activities such as colouring in or a TV & Netflix with cartoons to keep them entertained (with the correct licensing of course).
Take advantage of the governments 3k* grant for small businesses and ask your accountant to defer any tax liabilities. Speak to your mortgage provider as many are giving mortgage holidays to those in need on a case by case basis (RBS, Lloyds & TSB so far)**. Even deferring payment for a month can help with stress. Advise staff members to do the same. Speak to your insurers*** about any cover you may have for business disruption and also protection in case of rioting. You may also want to contact your local benefits agency to see what provisions and benefits you may be entitled too if the country is on lockdown or if your business is severely affected.**** What to do over the lockdown
Use this time to clean and tidy your salon or academy. Clear that mountain of admin and paperwork, clear out and destroy old client records. Take time to do some online training and maybe even take that next step to becoming a trainer that you always wanted to do! If the salons not covered by insurance, get cover ASAP. If your salon is susceptible to potential rioting then perhaps remove valuable stock and equipment to your home or a safer place until the lockdown is over. Spring clean your house and garden, spend time with your kids, catch up on sleep and when this all blows over you will be back to work with a fighting spirit!
Most importantly, keep money moving! Spend money on local businesses for supplies, spend with each other and let’s try to keep our industry afloat. Many of us survive the 2-week post-Christmas period, yes, we survive on pre-Christmas takings, but we will 100% survive this. For now, follow strict hygiene protocols and advertise these procedures to clients, put your mind at ease by speaking with your accountant and mortgage company, get promoting on unique offers to push money through the door, advise staff not to engage in talk of current events and CV in the salon to provide a stress free environment and try not to over panic about the situation yourself.
One thing is sure, we will all get through this. We may take a little less money this year and it may take 4-12 weeks to get back to normal, but we will all pull through and by Christmas of this year, we will look back and wonder ‘just what the hell actually happened?’… *The £3000 business grant is only available for businesses in England that are on a small business rates allowance with their local councils. You will need to apply direct to the council for eligibility and to apply. ** RBS, Lloyds, and TSB all said they would consider requests for help on a case-by-case basis, including from people with buy-to-let mortgages. There is a £500m emergency fund to help with rent payments and rent arrears for CV. If you are in rented accommodation and will struggle to make your rent, then please contact your local council. ***The UK government this week, under pressure from industry lobby groups, designated Covid-19 a “notifiable disease”, in order to make it easier for affected companies to claim insurance. It all depends on the wording of the individual insurance contract as to whether or not you are covered for business disruption. There’s a difference from the perspective of the insurance company between “definable” and “undefinable” risk. Insurance firms are unlikely to have written an insurance policy that covers a firm from the impact of an undefinable risk. So for example if there was a flood and the business’s premises or equipment are damaged directly by that event, the business that had taken out flood insurance would probably be able to claim for the repair of the premises or replacement of the equipment, which has a certain calculable value.
However if the flood in the local area meant that customers were unable to reach the business – so the economic impact was indirect and impossible to define – it’s much less likely that the company would be able to claim for lost revenues. “Standard business insurance policies are designed and priced to cover standard risks, not those that are very unlikely, such as the effects of Covid-19,” said a spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers. If in doubt, speak to your own insurance providers and find out. **** Don’t delay making a benefit claim, even if you think you may be affected by coronavirus.
You can apply for Universal Credit online. If you need to make an appointment, call the number you are given when you submit your claim, and explain the situation. Jobcentre Plus staff are ready to support you if you are required to stay at home.
If you need to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because of coronavirus, you will not be required to produce a Fit Note.
If you are affected by coronavirus you will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre.
If you are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home and want to apply for ESA, the usual 7 waiting days for new claimants will not apply. ESA will be payable from day one. Useful Links https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/