Dear CEW Members,
Following on from our newsletter last Friday, where we shared some initial sources of information and guidance for members, we wanted to build on this and will continue to do so as the situation evolves which it has rapidly done so in the past few days.
CEW is operating as normal, albeit remotely and we are here to support our members in any way we can throughout this crisis. If you need advice, for us to provide contacts that will help your business or for anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Whilst we have had to pull back on our usual busy schedule of events, and meetings, we will continue to contact you via our social channels and newsletter and are all here on the phone and email as needed.
At times like this it is important to strike the right tone for all and CEW will continue to provide information relevant for your businesses, along with updates on what we are doing for our community and how the beauty industry is pulling together to get through this.
You may have seen that yesterday we ran a post about our Beauty Awards, this was in response to demand from brands who have entered for us to keep up the flow of information. If there is anything in particular that you would like us to provide or do less of, please let us know. This is your CEW and we are working for you.
It's clear that things are going to be very tough for an undefined period of time and every business will experience significant disruption as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Given the initial observations of the virus lifecycle in China we had been hoping for a relatively short but deep period of disruption, followed by recovery into Q3 as discussed with WWD last week. However, a prolonged, ongoing period of around six months, with the population broadly confined to their homes for three to four months, is also now possible given the moves made by the government this week in the UK and the situations in other countries around the globe.
Whichever scenario plays out, it is important to remember that whilst the situation we are facing and already in is unprecedented, it will come to an end, and consumer recovery when it happens will be swift if we are ready.
What we do know is that planning for your business, no matter the size, is vital. We must all plan for different scenarios and each business obviously has different circumstances and pressure points to consider.
Talking to various people in CEW’s community, we know that some businesses are more prepared for this kind of situation than others. We have put together a checklist of things that we should all be doing to protect our businesses and put us in to the best shape for when we emerge from this period of uncertainty and change.
1. Plan, plan and plan again…
It’s really helpful to run a sequence of scenarios of varying severities and periods of disruption and how this may impact your own business.
Walpole suggests that if you don't know where to start, you could go for these as starting points - assume that there will be 4 weeks of decline, 4 weeks on the bottom and 4 weeks of recovery. Then do another one where the time on the bottom is 3 months and so on. This phasing may not be right for your company, so work out what are your key indicators that will show you when to press the activation button on the different plans.
The obvious impact for all of us will be on revenues, but it is also worth looking at your supply chain.
You’ll need to investigate what delays do to incoming materials/supplies? If you have a long and complex supply chain, or one which extends overseas, expect disruption. What effect will this have on your business?
Economists are saying that the problems are both supply and demand side. It’s important to talk to your suppliers and work out how to stick together - you will need each other when things resume again to get things back to speed.
And then stand back and decide realistically where you are – no matter how tough it’s going to be. Does your business look okay, or is it close to the strip back stage. Work it out and plan accordingly.
You can then use these different scenarios to run some cashflow forecasts. Work out how much room you have with each of the scenarios for your business. If you don't know your cashflows already and how to manipulate them, this is where your FD, accountant or other advisors will be helpful.
If cash is going to be an issue, maximise the amount of cash you have now, and then plan how to spend it as slowly as you can for your business.
2. Government assistance
Take full advantage of the offer from the government to slow down tax payments, and think about what you might be able to agree with other people. If you need to delay payments to others - suppliers, landlords etc - talk to them. Don't miss payments and hope they won’t notice. People will often be helpful, especially if you speak to them. It's a lot harder to say no to a polite request over the phone than on an email
Find information on support available for businesses here.
This link is likely to be updated regularly so use it and keep checking for changes.
If you have investors, as many beauty businesses do, you should be talking to them anyway. If you are not then this is a must. Investors will be there to support you through this period and it will be in their interest to help your business get through the next months.
3. Workplace disruption
If you haven't already, work out what you can do if your premises are closed or you can't get to them, or something similar.
The government has advised home working for employees where possible and we expect this to be rolled out more stringently in the coming days. You may want to try to phase this in to establish what works and what doesn't, but you should aim to make it work as quickly as you can. Pregnant employees or those in more vulnerable categories are strongly advised to work from home and we see that playing out in most businesses now.
Establish how you are going to stay in contact with colleagues, customers, suppliers etc - make sure you can use Zoom, Hangouts, Skype, Microsoft Teams and so on. We have seen services like Zoom restrict their free services this week and so for instance at CEW we have moved to Facetime or WhatsApp group calls which can be made for free over WiFi.
Work out which systems the team can access, and how to divert calls or similar. If you have different sites doing different things, what can you do to keep these moving forward?
In terms of the working day, it’s important for employees to work out a schedule that works for them to get optimum results – there are lots of online resources which suggest different methods - 45 mins of work with a 15 min break works for some, or others may prefer to start working two hours earlier than normal in order to complete tasks before the children need feeding or the dog needs walking. As long as employees know what needs to be achieved each day and this is being achieved then they should be able to flex their day as they wish.
4. Take care of your team
You and your staff are in this together. They can help the business get through this crisis if they feel part of the plan. It’s essential to communicate regularly, and agree goals and discuss progress against these as you move through the working week.
Set a regular virtual team meeting to discuss not only work-related topics but also do a check-in to see how team members are doing. This is an excellent way for team leaders and team members to show their support for one another and to offer up tips that they find helpful in staying healthy.
This is a good time to share fact-based videos and news from authority sites for discussion. Sorting through myths and keeping heads calm is important when dealing with low morale during this time.
5. Take advice and ask for help
Talk to people who might be able to help, whether that be offering advice, or practical assistance, or to share what they are doing.
There are some great online resources and insights out there such as Facebook’s Business Resource Hub and Global Web Index's insights in to the effect of the virus on consumer habits, and also Ogilvy’s insights published around communications during this time.
We will keep our website updated with as much information as we can which you can find in the News section of the site (under Events at present).
The CEW team and wider CEW community is here to help and if we can assist anyone in the Beauty Industry we will do so. This is a promise.
Above all, remember this will come to an end.
It is a question of doing all you can to weather the next few months: do that and you will be fitter and stronger and ready to respond when the customer and the market bounces back.
Best wishes and keep in touch,
020 7940 2924