Author and property developer Greg Wilkes shares his thoughts on how small construction businesses can survive and thrive following the coronavirus outbreak.
There is no doubt about it we are facing difficult times. Even when the coronavirus disease itself has come and gone, the economic impact will be huge and felt across the construction industry.
This epidemic will likely affect everybody but we will always need buildings. We will need homes, offices, shops. Our living and working spaces will need to be adapted. We will always need bathrooms, kitchens and electrical appliances.
Now is the time to get every part of your business fine-tuned to be the best it can be, all set up and ready to go for when this is all over, try and do what you can right now to cut back and weather the storm
There will be short, medium and long-term affects to businesses from this pandemic.
In the short term, With the uncertainty of people’s jobs and financial situation there will be a reduction in enquiries and for some even planned works have come to a halt. It is very unlikely many clients will be giving large deposits for home extensions, lofts or refurbishments at the moment until things stabilise as they will be unsure what is happening with their own jobs/business.
What immediate action can you take?
You have heard the saying cash is king and this has never been so relevant to now. It is time to see what you can cut back on, to free up as much cash as possible. Review things like the following:
- Make sure all of your invoicing is up to date
- Offer customers a payment reduction if they pay early
- Take advantage of the government’s schemes
- Reduce utilities bills
- Request mortgage payment holidays
- Only pay a bill when its due, not earlier
- Sell off unused equipment and computer hardware etc.
- Sell excess building materials
There is still a need for reactive works to be carried out and this is where you need to focus your attention on to get you through the short term and try and hold on your team of workers.
Boilers do not stop breaking down, electrical items do not stop breaking, roofs that leak need to be fixed, for the short term this is where you may need to turn your attention to keep your workers busy and you making some sort of profit.
This is a time to think outside of the box. What is happening in your area? Has there been flooding or fires recently? Those properties will need repairing. Could you do work for insurance companies? Will your local hospital need repair works? The supermarkets? Look at all the businesses that are NOT going to suffer through this pandemic and try and get business from them.
You may simply assume that these businesses already have a construction company in place and likely they do. However, just as you will, many businesses will not be able to carry out their works if staff are self-isolating and they will need a construction company to step in and take over. It’s important that they know you are the business they can turn to.
Your clients may also be worried about having you in their houses, so reassure them that you are following government guidelines i.e. hand washing, social distancing. You may want to start equipping yourself and any staff with protective masks & overalls too if you are in close vicinity of the public. This measure would help reassure your clients that you are not going to be spreading the disease inadvertently.
In my book, Building your future: a step-by-step guide to creating a £1million+ business, I have a seven-step DEVELOP strategy that will recession-proof your business and make it thrive the other side. It covers all areas of the business including sales, marketing, operations and finances. There are tasks and strategies you can implement right away to see immediate results.
It is available at Amazon and on the 8th and 9th June , there is a Kindle promotion where you can purchase it for just £0.99