Cause UK client, Peter Dickinson, shares some top tips for businesses on the roadmap to recovery.
Business Survival Strategy
Peter Dickinson, MD of Harrogate Business Advisors, has five decades’ experience. A strategic advisor to SMEs on business growth, he helped one local firm go from start-up to £2.2M turnover in one year. He shares his roadmap to recovery…
Few businesses will be unscathed by the last year. Here are my top tips to trade out of the pandemic.
Business continuity planning
This is essential. Who or what is your business dependent upon? Are there a handful of key customers that you need to nurture? It could be key members of staff – or some vital part of your process – a machine, some software, or all of the above. Look at what you need to survive and start building a ‘war chest’ of retained cash.
Safeguard the workforce
Not just PPE and sanitisers. This environment is causing a lot of mental strife and anxiety. Consider the investment in counselling for staff. Even if it is not taken up, by offering support you will gain respect from your team.
Step up customer service
It has always been important, but now it is more so. More trade is being done online, meaning more of a level playing field for your customers to search for alternatives. It is a fallacy that people buy on price. If we all bought on price, we would wear the same clothes and drive the same cars. We can differentiate ourselves by solving our customers’ problems and helping them achieve their aspirations.
Consider other products and services
Like it or not, the word ‘pivot’ has become centre-stage. Consider what else you could be doing with the resources you have. How else might you be serving your customers? Can you have additional sales by adding e-commerce and reaching your consumers directly?
Speak with your customers
It’s about THEM. Ask how you might help them. There may be nothing you can do but they will remember you for asking. By the way – I mean speak to them. Not email campaigns or social media messages. Pick up the phone. It is far more comforting in a crisis to hear someone on the other end offering assistance. The business will come, just start by being a go-giver.
Speak with your suppliers
When you strengthen supplier relationships it becomes mutually beneficial. They might be able to help you add products or services to your portfolio. You will hear a different slant on your sector since they will be supplying a whole range of businesses, some of whom might be competitors. They will know others that have ‘pivoted’ and give you some ideas.
Step up your lead generation
Those businesses that double-down on finding new customers are those that will emerge from any crisis in great shape. Draw up a list of prospects that ‘look and feel’ like your best customers. Next, go fishing where those prospects are swimming. Think about the most effective way of reaching your newly-formed prospect list. Then, consider how you add value to your customers. This part is fundamental to your success. Know the value you deliver – measured in terms of your customer. Then put together a statement that explains your value and always use that statement when speaking with prospects.
Monitor cashflow each week
I encourage my clients to have at least three months of retained cash in the business bank account. The larger this buffer the better when entering troubled times. By checking your income and outgoing each week, you should be shielded against any surprises. As a general rule, if we correct any issues in the sales pipeline and the cashflow every week, the business should be able to trade through a crisis.
Central and local government support
Make sure you take advantage of everything on offer. There are a whole range of benefits from central government and I’m sure most readers have taken everything being offered by way of Covid-19 recovery funds.
In addition, local authorities have business support programmes that are slightly harder to unearth. Harrogate Business Advisors has always had the philosophy that using business support programmes adds even more value to our customers. In some cases, these programmes are free to the business owner, whilst others are heavily subsidised.
Here are some funded support examples:
The Strategic Growth Programme is for businesses in the Leeds LEP catchment area and provides free business support for those owners that need help to sustain their current trading and those that have aspirations for growth. This programme has the added benefit of having a grant attached. Businesses can tap into funds of up to £25,000 to claim back 50% of capital expenditure projects.
The Skills Service and more specifically, their High Performing Workplace initiative. This is aimed at up-skilling the local workforce and allows grant funding for training. Harrogate Business Advisors have secured a tranche of funding for Sales Training using this programme.
If you are a manufacturer, there is the Manufacturing Growth Programme. Assignments using this funding can address a whole range of business needs. We also use this service for Sales Training for our manufacturing clients.
If you want support for your business, or just a chat to see what’s available, get in touch for an initial free call: hbadvisors.co.uk