9 BIHA “Emergency” Top Tips to help your business survive during this COVID-19 pandemic (as of 18-3-2020)
1. DON’T STOP MARKETING YOUR HIRE BUSINESS!
The Covid 19 outbreak will come to an end at some point and once it does – there is likely to be HUGE demand for your inflatables – especially if some of your competitors have ceased trading. It’s no good waiting until the crisis is over – you need to act now to make sure that you are in the forefront of your customers’ minds when they want to hire a castle. Getting customers for when the crisis eventually comes to an end should be your highest priority.
2. “RING-FENCE” YOUR CUSTOMERS AND PROTECT YOUR CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS.
Jealously keep your customers yours! Call your best regular ones up (including your corporate customers) if possible – not to hire them a castle – but to see how they are – and how they’re coping. Chances are they’re be stuck at home – and bored and would appreciate your phone call or text message. Then when it’s all over – hopefully your customers will be there for you – and loyal to you. If you are a larger hire company and currently have employees that are effectively idle, then one non-delivery job you could give them is to call up your best customers and just touch base with them. Help and support them if needs be.
3. ADD MORE VALUE AS WELL AS CONTINUING TO PROMOTE YOUR HIRE SERVICES.
DO NOT lower your hire prices to get more bookings during this crisis (although there are some exceptions). If you lower your prices, then it could set a horrible precedent for when the crisis is over. Instead, add more value (e.g. include a garden game) to the hire. Try to be creative when you add more value to your bookings.
4. TAKE THE MONEY THAT COULD BE OWING TO YOU.
Protect your cash-flow. The UK Government have announced various measures to help business owners (especially small and medium sized businesses) and they have set aside many billions of pounds (Allegedly £330 Billion) – so claim your share to help you through this crisis. This changes pretty much every day, but as of 18-3-2020, if you speak to your local bank (where you hold your main business account) then they may be able to offer you a “Business Interruption loan” and it’s pretty much guaranteed because the Government have agreed to underwrite 80% of this loan – so the risk to your bank is greatly reduced. It’s apparently going to be rare for them to turn down a business for this “emergency type business interruption loan”. As of 18-3-2020, these SPECIAL LOANS ARE DUE TO BE LAUNCHED NEXT WEEK. If you employ staff – don’t forget to tell them about money that they may be able to claim from the Government. E.g. some mortgage lenders/landlords may be prepared to offer relief for up to say 3 months. Also see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
5. FOCUS OBSESSIVELY ON YOUR WEBSITE.
Chances are that you have now got a lot more time than usual – and so I strongly recommend that you invest some of that time in making your website better and more Google friendly – so that when recovery comes – you will be in a stronger position to benefit from the flood of customers that will want to use your services. One of the services I offer BIHA members (whom I help with SEO) is a weekly BACKLINKING service (where you get 2 high-quality backlinks to your website every weekend). The service has been currently running uninterrupted for 14 months – and if you are interested in high-quality backlinks to your website to push you up the Google rankings (especially in these difficult times) – then please PM me. (You will need to be a BIHA member in good standing to benefit from this service). I currently help around 100 BIHA members with their backlinks as a very important component of their overall SEO, and it’s extremely affordable. Also, try to add more content to your website, whilst you have extra time on your hands. Websites that are thin on content ALWAYS rank less well than websites that have lots of content, regardless of the number of backlinks to that site. The BIHA has a brilliant content-writer available and she typically charges just £10 for a piece of unique content (such as a 200 – 250 word blog post or article). However, in these troubled times (despite my point 3 above) she is prepared to TEMPORARILY drop her prices to help BIHA members with their content writing. Some of her normal client work has not surprisingly dried up – and so she has more availability than normal. If you focus on adding content and backlinks to your website during this crisis – then when the recovery comes your website could be TEN TIMES better than what it was before simply because you carried out work on your website, (or got other people to do it) that ordinarily you might NEVER have found the time to do.
6. SEND MONTHLY EMAIL NEWSLETTERS TO YOUR EXISTING CLIENTS.
This could just be making sure that they are ok – and keeping them informed that you are still around and hiring out inflatables and other relevant news about the industry. If you do this, then you’ll be rewarded massively when this crisis is over. In the next few days, the BIHA will be offering a unique service to its members – where you can send out newsletters to your customers (via email) that we will prepare for you. As mentioned above, we have a content-writer based here in the UK, and she will be writing newsletters for anyone interested in this service (More info coming very soon). And it will be very affordable – even during these difficult times.
7. THINK OF CREATIVE WAYS THAT YOU CAN EARN EXTRA MONEY FROM YOUR BUSINESS (That you may not have considered before).
Some inflatable hire companies have started using their vans (which everyone has) to carry out light deliveries and other duties. I even heard about one enterprising and caring hirer who delivers essential provisions (e.g. soap and loo rolls!!) to the elderly and vulnerable. I even heard a rumour that Amazon need a lot more delivery drivers to cope with the extra demand from customers buying more books etc. whilst they are at home and need a good book to read! Another idea: Contact your existing customers and tell them that you can supply a bouncy castle to just their child (or children) at a reduced price. Regarding point 3 above, reducing your prices is not normally a good idea because it can cause a horrible precedent for the future when the crisis is over. However, what you could say to your customers (to avoid setting a precedent) is that because the castle will be used by far fewer kids – then the wear will be less and so you can offer a small discount. In these tough times – cash-flow is king! I’ve even heard about restaurants that are really struggling and so what they have done is to offer their customers a “meals-on-wheels” delivery service. And apparently, the customers love it – and means they can eat their favourite “restaurant food” at home (while self-isolating) and the restaurants can then hopefully survive.
8. SUPPORT AND HELP ONE ANOTHER THROUGH THIS CRISIS.
E.g. if you hear about a competitor that is really struggling – help them in whatever way you can. This will also help you when the crisis is over. In 1994, 3 years into my inflatable hire business, I had a competitor who was continuously running me down, and in the end I decided that enough was enough and so I took him out for some beers and our heated differences “thawed” considerably. We even started passing work to each other – and was a major factor in the growth of my inflatable and marquee hire business.
9. PREPARE FOR THE “MORGAN FREEMAN” MOMENT.
If you’re a fan of big budget “disaster movies” e.g. The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, War of the Worlds etc. you will notice that one thing they pretty much all have in common is that at the very end of the movie, amongst all the rubble, scarred landscape and demolished buildings etc. the sun rises to a new dawn, and the President (often Morgan Freeman) gives a resounding speech to the Nation about how life will begin again, birds will sing in the trees again, and people will start to laugh again in their homes etc. It’s a tear-jerking moment. But, that SAME moment will one day arrive here in the UK, and once it does – there will be MASSIVE, PENT-UP demand for entertainment services including INFLATABLE HIRE. It’s no good just waiting for that moment to arrive in order to fulfil the demand, we need to PREPARE for it RIGHT NOW. And that can be done by applying all (or some) of these 9 emergency survival tips and plans.
So, to conclude, let’s support one another – be smart and look after yourself and your families. Things could be a lot, lot worse. There is still a vast amount of money just sitting around in the UK – it’s just that less of it is now being spent – but it’s still there. Try to take utmost care of your health and your immune system because a strong immune system has been shown to help combat the worst effects of this virus. Taking Vitamin C is supposed to strengthen the immune system. Be on the lookout for more information and emails from myself at the BIHA about how your inflatable hire business can survive this crisis. If you’re not yet a fully-fledged BIHA member – I would encourage you to join. It will help your hire company in many different ways (including helping you survive this current crisis).