The Coronavirus: Doing Business Differently
In most cases, if you own a business, you have to do business differently. And I want to approach this in a way like this.
There are some businesses that I think you’re on the Titanic and the iceberg is in front and it’s going to be difficult to steer around to avoid. It’s just a truly once in a lifetime event. I own a digital marketing company, I own real estate rental properties during this, I own a home improvement company that has eight different companies during this, I have a company in other cities during this. I don’t own a restaurant but other than that I definitely know what business owners are going through.
I want to share with you some advice that I would give you.
You Need to Figure Out Ways to Survive
Notice we always talk about thriving. No, you’re surviving right now.
And I’m going to just talk to business owners. Sometimes you’re going to be the only one that gets the life jacket.
Sean that’s awful, I can’t believe you said that. Yeah, because I’ll say stuff in my podcast that’s for real because I own a real business. I’m the one who started the business, I’m the one who took the risk. I’m the one who gets the one life jacket. It goes on me and my family and some of you need to accept that, so you need to redefine survival because survival may just be you and your family for the next year, and your business has that sole objective.
I’ve never been big on hiring family but when it comes to survival, that may be the way you go.
So you need to figure out ways to survive. And that means obviously, everybody needs to be working less and obviously you got employees that can leave and get unemployment for whatever reason. And I’m grateful for my employees, my office staff, all agree to work 50% less. I like to think they know they work for a great company and I take good care of them in normal times, but we do shifts in our office right now, so normally where they’d work eight hours, there’s a morning shift and then there’s an afternoon shift.
You Have to Budget Differently
Pay for only things that put money in your coffers. If it’s a business credit, I wouldn’t worry about it, to be frank with you, because you’re going to be able to respond to the question “How did this happen?” And that was a year of the COVID. So you’re going to have a very justifiable explanation. Pay for things that keep your business in operations.
Other things, I would tell you to defer it. I would tell you to negotiate it, but I’d only be paying for things that absolutely people can’t come and take out of your business from you, that keeps you from doing your business.
Creative Financing for Your Great Customers
If for some reason you’re in a cash-strong position in your business and you have customers that would use you, but you need to do some creative financing for them, you may need to loan your customer’s money to be able to use your services because you can extend out payments.
We all have great customers that we know can pay us back, but they may have to pay us back over a little bit of time. I would only do this with people that you absolutely believe their business is still viable.
I wouldn’t do this with just anybody, but I have done this with various vendors that I have or we were in a strong position because I’m a fanatic about saving money. Since 2008, we’ve put away money so we were in a strong cash position and we’ve leveraged that.
Reimagine Your Business
If this doesn’t get you to start sitting in a chair and thinking about how your business should be redone, what will? What if this is the new normal? If it lasts eighteen months, it is the new normal, because eighteen months out, your business won’t be alive anyway.
So maybe we do business in a different way. And I hate thinking about this, but if something like this can happen once, it can happen twice. Nobody likes to hear that, but I think you do need to reimagine how you do business. I think if you’re creating a startup, this is one of the factors you gotta build into the equation.
And I would never imagine that, but what if we had to do business and we couldn’t be standing right next to each other, or obviously, we know the conditions are out there right now, you socially distance hand sanitizer, and you wear a mask and things like that? I think moving forward, you have to think of a very durable business.
Your Employees Must Feel Safe and Needed
Of all the employees that are still working in the field for us, we only actually had one that took Unemployment, and gosh, he made more Unemployment. But the rest of our people, we create an environment where they feel safe, they feel like we have their safety in mind, and they feel needed. They know they work for a great company and they’re confident that myself and my partners are going to steer through this. I think our existing track record in 2008 shows this.
You Customers Must Feel That You Can Serve Them Safely
We’ve communicated this in our adverts. We do free estimates, safely done, through social distancing. And we provide work, safely done, through social distancing. We’re down maybe 25%. But if you told me that we would do as much as we’ve done in the middle of a pandemic, I would have never imagined it.
This is where you need to make your value proposition better than it’s ever been
Why do customers want to buy your products and services more than ever, today? What would make somebody want to buy your product and services today, during a pandemic?
You need to answer that question. Hopefully, you’ve built trust with your customers, because it will pay off.
I feel like our customers know how well we do business, and I believe we’re doing work now because people feel like, if I’m going to get this done, this is the one company that I think will do it right and safely.
Trust pays off during uncertainty.
Your Branding, Your Marketing, and Advertising—It pays off now!
We have branded ourselves as the most trusted company in our industry and if you want the perfect home improvement experience, that’s our brand position. Whether it’s building you a custom multi-million dollar home, to installing the garbage disposal. We have eight divisions. We’ll do either one, we can do it either of them, and we are the perfect experience. If you could have a perfect home improvement experience, we have created it.
That is our value proposition. All that branding that we’ve done for twenty years, telling customers that, means we’re the one call they make. They trust us and they think if anybody’s going to do it right, our company is going to do it right.
Borrow Money Whenever You Can Get It Whether You Needed or Not
Normally, I would not say that to the degree that I am right now, but when it’s survival, you gotta do whatever it takes. So any way that you could put your hands on cash, you can always pay back a loan. I believe cash is oxygen and I’ve always said you borrow money, you get lines of credit when you don’t need it, because typically when you do need it, it’s never available, or you can’t get your hands on it fast enough.
So again, I just wanted to give you some methods of doing business differently during this time. And what I told you is you need to figure out survival. And I said you can do that through fewer hours, budgeting, you can defer things, in-house financing. I talked about re-imagining your business. I talk about how your employees must feel safe and needed. Your customers must feel like you can serve them safely. You need to communicate that in your marketings and email. We send out an email to all our customers, letting them know how we’re doing business. Now you need to make your value proposition better than ever. Customers must feel like they need and want your services and products more than ever. Trust will pay off now more than ever. If you’ve built that it will pay real dividends. You’re branding your marketing, your advertising you’ve built that brand, that reputation, it’s going to pay off now. This is when, in difficult times, all the infrastructure of marketing and building that brand pays off. Borrow money whenever you can get your hands on it. Remember this, cash is like oxygen!