How I am protecting my business in COVID-19 times
By Peter Theuri | March 25th 2020
The sting of Covid-19 is becoming more painful, and businesses are being hard hit by the ongoing tumultuous economic period. The future doesn’t look too promising, so it’s best to take action early. While some businesses are looking at a possible shutdown, others are putting up measures to keep their head above the water.
What can you learn from these giants that you can apply to your business?
1. Tuskys is restrategising its sales and marketing
Tuskys CEO Dan Githua is upbeat that the retailer will continue operating at a high level, as several measures have been put in place to support growth despite the choppy seas.
Invest in alternative marketing
“At Tuskys, we are sparing no effort to provide practical interventions as part of our commitment to ease the social challenges arising from the Covid-19 threat. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary responses, and use of never-used options such as the WhatsApp platform, which we are using for the first time,” says Githua.
Consider pay cuts
The CEO has announced that he will be taking a 20 per cent pay cut effective this month for a six-month period as part of cost-cutting measures. This is something that may be emulated by other top managers.
The business community, he notes, is facing lean times occasioned by business uncertainty that will require internal cost management considerations.
Roll out innovative strategies
Tuskys announced a partnership with logistics company Sendy that would see it deliver goods to customers’ doorsteps.
This move is intended to ensure that customers continue receiving goods at their homes without risking their health by going into crowded stores, or handling cash.
With the service expansion, Sendy has more than doubled its motorbike delivery workforce, with more than 300 riders now dedicated to supporting the retail programme
Tuskys has also tapped into mobile messaging services to enable people to order products. Orders through WhatsApp and via SMS have increased by more than 200 per cent. This means the retailer is still making sales despite the tragedy and identifying a niche.
2. We are creating cash reserves to pay bills
Moses Okemwa, an architect, is the managing director of Amber Construction Ltd, a building construction company. The unfortunate strike of the Covid-19 pandemic has made the business situation difficult, and his company is set to take measures previously unconsidered as it seeks to remain in operation.
Scale down on operations
“We will have to move 100 per cent of our office operations home. We will also reduce the scale of our operations until the situation stabilises,” he says. While this action puts a damper on business profits, it also reduces operational expenses. This, in the short term, will create some cash reserves. This cash will enable the company to pay its bills, wages and keep going even as the situation hints at a bleak future.
Do what we must if it gets worse
And if, or when, the situation seems to be getting out of hand, the company will be forced to slash wages for all staff, and perhaps lay off non-essential staff and enter negotiations with service providers, such as landlords, for a grace period in weathering the storm.
So far, most of the firm’s suppliers have scaled down, and the company is experiencing a shortage of building materials. The results of this include cutting down on the number of casual workers required at construction sites, and slower work progress.
“Progress of works on sites has gone down; there is very little cash in circulation in the construction sector. This will eventually lead to various contractual issues with our clients, but we are hopeful that the situation will not get out of control,” says Okemwa.
3. We’re using this time to get stronger
Carry out any necessary maintenance work
Kempinski Hotels, one of Kenya’s high-end hospitality facilities, will use the period of depressed demand and closure to perform key maintenance tasks to keep its assets in good shape and ready to receive guests when business resumes.
“In case the situation gets worse and prolonged, we will assess at the proper time and plan accordingly,” says Roberto Simone, the cluster general manager.
Keep networking with key partners
Simone says that market demand cannot be influenced in a period of three to six months, and thus the hotel’s sales team is looking to and preparing for the future, keeping communication lines open with its most strategic partners, and at the same time planning different actions for when the market rebounds.
“We have to bear in mind that this unprecedented global business lockdown might change human behaviour, methods of work and how things will be done. The future might be different from the past, and we have to be ready to intercept the new trends. Covid-19 can disrupt the status quo and open new frontiers,” Simone adds.
Be prepared for rebound
And if you’re a business owner worrying about what’s coming, Simone offers this advice: “Defend your business entity, your team and your unique intellectual property. And then imagine the future because many things will change and you have to be ready out there with new ideas to cope with new trends.
“No matter how long it will take to defeat Covid-19, some of the effects on human behaviour will remain and will mute the consumer approach, and you have to be ready for these new customers.”
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