As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to impact companies locally and globally, here are some ideas on how you can help to safeguard your business.

Ask for help

The Government unveiled a $12.1 billion support package last month, with almost half going towards businesses affected by the pandemic. New Zealand businesses will be eligible to apply for wage subsidies if you can show a 30% decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before. If the application is approved, you will be paid $585.80 per week for full time staff, and $350 for part time staff and it will be paid in a lump sum. The Government has now removed the $150,000 limit to these payments. To apply, head to www.covid19.govt.nz

Bridget MacDonald, Executive Director of the NZ Alcohol Beverages Council, says that during this uncertain time, it’s important that businesses know what help is available to them and how to make the best use of it. “We encourage businesses to familiarise themselves with, and register for, the support that government has announced around wage subsidies, cash flow and tax relief measures,” she says. “It’s also important to take proactive steps – talk to your landlord, bank, IRD and suppliers to find out what your options are and how you can be supported.”

Facebook has a $100 million grant programme for small businesses impacted by the pandemic , the details of the 30 countries eligible are currently unknown, for more information, head to www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants

Sell online

It’s no secret that with Kiwis self-isolating, winery and cellar door sales will take a hit. But according to Rob McMillan, Executive Vice President and founder of the Silicon Valley Wine Division: “There is no chance we will see sweeping abstinence as a consequence of the virus.” In other words – people will always want wine. So what is the option for Kiwi vineyards? If you’re not online already, try to do so as cost-effectively as possible. Then emphasise your online options. McMillan says there will be an increase in home consumption of wine and higher levels of online wine sales from smaller wineries who promote their online options. “Consider offering coupons for new consumers and discounts to existing club members for online ordering,” he says. If you have been forced to close your cellar door, try selling gift cards, or offer free delivery for online orders – as done by wineries including Palliser Estate and Milton Estate – or curb-side pick-up as is being offered in the US. Please note that it is still being determined whether online ordering during Alert Level 4 is available.

Stay connected

MacDonald says that as the landscape changes, “people might have to reassess their business plans to consider any potential diversifications to trading and services that could be implemented”.

Stay connected to your customers via social media – Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – plus your website, emails and newsletters to share important information and to encourage customers shop local and order online. “Have a chat with your team about any ideas and initiatives they might have, and with your RTOs about regional #golocal campaigns,” says MacDonald.

Caro Jensen, founder of SipNZ and drinkfo.com, says wine producers should continue to provide value to consumers if they have resources available to do so. “With many wine lovers stuck at home, it offers an opportunity to engage with them and create a virtual tasting room via live streams,” she says. “Think guided live tastings, Q&As or insights into a specific topic such as organic vs conventional winegrowing, aging or food & wine matches.

“Share the streams with your database and followers afterwards. Or simply take customers along via a GoPro camera during harvest.

“Make sure to send out regular targeted offers via newsletters and social media or [even just] pick up the phone. Top customers would love to hear from wineries personally while stuck in isolation!” says Jensen.

Hospitality NZ has produced a COVID-19 toolkit that covers advice on prevention, food businesses, accommodation, employment, health and safety, business support, mental health, business planning and marketing. This kit is being updated daily. Visit www.hospitality.org.nz or call 0800 500 503 to get a copy.

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