COVID-19 Business Update – 7 August 2020

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Hello again – welcome to the latest edition of our Weekly Digest.  Read on for this week’s update.

NZ Government Relaunched Campaign to Raise COVID-19 Awareness

Although life feels a bit closer to normal than before, the government has relaunched a campaign to raise community awareness about the coronavirus, instructing people to be ready and take a COVID-19 test when given the opportunity.

Top health official, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, said that contact tracing is in good shape with a large-scale test run planned in a couple of weeks’ time and the testing capacity is now above 3000 a day.

Although health agencies are prepared in case of a next wave, it is down to Kiwis to do their part.  Everyone is encouraged to keep track of who you’ve seen and where you’ve been through the COVID Tracer app in order to assist with contact tracing if necessary.

For business owners, you can help customers in maintaining their “digital diary” by displaying a QR code poster.

How is NZ doing?

New, ZealandAlthough it seems like small businesses are at the center of the storm COVID-19 has caused, ANZ’s Business Outlook survey shows business confidence has been lifting steadily in the last few months.  The preliminary data for July also shows New Zealand is in an enviable position on the global stage and business activity is largely back to normal, as demonstrated by traffic and spending data.

However, there’s a large economic hole surrounding tourism and when coupled with the global outlook and the unknown future, there are still some causes for concern.  But for now, businesses and individuals are back on track with their economic side which is helping business’ balance sheets across the country.

More Kiwis Are Shopping Online and Supporting Local Businesses

New research from New Zealand Post has seen dramatic changes in the shopping habits of Kiwis since the COVID-19 lockdown that could be here to stay.

Data shows online shopping increased 105% when NZ moved into Alert Level 3, and online spending peaked in late April– with New Zealanders spending over $200 million.  Another prominent trend that many Kiwi retailers will be happy about is the continuation to buy local, as domestic online sales accounted for 71% of the total online spending.

If you need expert assistance in transforming your business by establishing or strengthening your online presence, don’t hesitate to contact us so we can work out a plan.

Tips to Adapt Your Small Business During the Pandemic

As COVID-19 continues to impact the way businesses operate and consumers shop, many small businesses may struggle to stay afloat, let alone thrive.  Below are some of the simple, yet effective, ways on how you can build a stronger brand, earn more sales, and survive in these uncertain times.

Tips

Showcase locally-made products

  • Now, more than ever, consumers want to buy from local brands to support the domestic economy.  By highlighting that you are a local brand and are selling locally-made products on your website and ads, you may be able to attract some customers and boost sales

Present information that is relevant to consumers

  • Make sure that your website and marketing collateral feature key information that consumers need including product availability, speed of delivery, return policy, and shipping fees.  You might also want to modify your product descriptions for them to become more relevant to your customers’ changing needs during the pandemic.

Offer online gift cards

  • As people switch to online shopping, now is a good time to offer online gift cards that will encourage them to purchase products even without going to your physical store.

Engage customers through social media

  • Connect with your customers in a time of social distancing through popular social media platforms.  Stay active and post relevant content that will promote discussion to give your brand a human element.

Manage your customers’ expectations when it comes to delivery

  • Make sure that you make your customers aware of the possible delays on delivery, especially if you’ve just transitioned to ecommerce.  It is better to be honest and transparent than to lose customers because of miscommunicated time estimates.

Want to discuss your specific business situation? Drop us a message so we can schedule a session to plan your business recovery.

How to Manage an Underperformer Remotely

Poor, PerformanceAlthough many businesses are re-opening and some people are returning to the office, the work from home setup will persist.  As a business leader, you will be faced with new challenges such as managing an underperformer in your remote team.  This Harvard Business Review article shares some tips on how to handle such situation effectively so your operations won’t be affected:

Revisit your expectations.

  • Review your recent directives and check if you have communicated your expectations clearly and consistently from the beginning.  Also, identify where the underperformer’s difficulties come from.

Learn more about them.

  • Know their goals and what they care about.  Learn about their remote set-up, schedule, and home obligations so you can adjust your management approach to match their needs.

Level with them and be specific.

  • Provide feedback to give them an opportunity to actively make some changes in their practices that are not working.

Help them learn how to improve their own performance.

  • You can avoid micromanaging by using questions so they can self-assess, modify what needs to be improved, and project into their own future.

Stay in close enough contact.

  • Stay in touch regularly and keep them in the loop.  If you feel like you’re not getting a good read on your team member’s state of mind because you communicate mostly via email or chat messages, plan some of your interactions by phone and listen intently.  The tone of their voice will give you more clues about what needs intervention.

If you need more techniques to strengthen your relationship with your team, improve performance, and consequently boost your business results, feel free to get in touch with us.

Protecting NZ Jobs

The latest data released by Stats NZ shows that the unemployment rate in the June quarter, which includes the period the economy was in lockdown, was at 4%.  This decline from 4.2% in March shows that the government’s plan to protect jobs and minimise the impact of the pandemic on businesses is working as we hoped.

If you’re looking for great talent – there’s no better time than right now!  With many skilled workers out of a job, you may want to keep your eyes peeled for new hires.

If you need help hiring new employees, Work and Income offers free recruitment services.  You can advertise jobs for free and easily access work-ready people with skills to suit all kinds of jobs.  You can also talk to them about tailoring a recruitment plan to meet your business needs.

Mentoring Scheme for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses

Rbp NetworkLast week, the Economic Development and Small Business Ministers announced a further $40 million for the Regional Business Partner Network, on top of the $15 million invested since March.

The Regional Business Partner Network gives business owners access to advice and resources on business continuity planning, finance and cashflow management, HR issues, and sector-specific concerns amid the COVID-19 crisis. You can find more details in this article from Treasury.

If you’re looking for ways to adapt your business, get in touch with us.

Government Loan Applications Extended

The government is offering one-off loans to small businesses employing 50 or fewer full-time employees, sole traders, and self-employed individuals, that have been affected by COVID-19 to support their cashflow needs.

The Small Business Cash Flow Loan Scheme means you can get financial assistance of up to $100,000 and an additional $1800 per equivalent full-time employee.  Repayments are not required for the first two years, but if the loan is paid back within a year, there will be no interest.

The government has extended this loan until the end of the year.  For those who haven’t applied for this government loan yet, you can check your eligibility here or you can get in touch with us so we can assist you with your application.

Application for Wage Subsidy Extension Still Ongoing

Applications for the Wage Subsidy Extension are open until 1 September 2020.  This initiative is aimed at supporting employers, including the self-employed, who have been significantly hit by COVID-19.  Under this scheme, the wages of your employees will be covered over an 8-week period.

To be eligible for this financial support, your business must have had at least a 40% revenue loss for a continuous 30-day period in the last 40 days before the application.  Eligible employers must also reapply for the Wage Subsidy Extension once their 12-week Wage Subsidy has ended.  You can read through the guidelines and apply online here. If you have any questions about this government program, contact us.

Watch out for COVID-19 scams

ScamScammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to con people into giving their money or confidential personal information.  Here are some of the Covid-19 scams to look out for:

  • Scams offering COVID-19 testing, vaccine, or cure
  • Fake charities
  • “Person in need” scams
  • Scams targeting Social Security benefits

While the reason behind the fraud is new, the tactics are familiar.  The best defence is to say No if anyone contacts you asking for your bank account information, credit card details, or driver’s licence number; someone you don’t know requests money through payment app or pre-paid gift cards; someone you don’t know sends you a cheque for some reason and asks you to send a portion back; or simply your gut tells you that it is too good to be true or it doesn’t feel right.

On the Bright Side…

We’re now in the third quarter of 2020 and we are still in the grips of a global pandemic– leaving many scared, frustrated, and struggling.  However, among the dire news, there have been a few bright spots, as this article points out, with a listing of 100 positive things that have happened so far in 2020.  For example, drive-in movie theatres are showing a resurgence, adoption and fostering of homeless animals has risen, and museums around the world have opened for virtual tours.

We understand that this year seems incredibly hard, and it surely doesn’t feel like a moment when you can easily see the glass as half full or make lemonade out of lemons.  While it’s okay to not be okay, we encourage you to find the silver linings.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.

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