When it seems like so much is out of our control, we must focus on the things we can control.
“When you can’t do what you do, you do what you can.” That’s the chorus for a new song Jon Bon Jovi is writing with the help of his fans about finding ways to cope and contribute in this age of quarantines and social distancing.
The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is a global challenge without parallel in our living history. We are all navigating uncharted waters, everyone everywhere.
All industries are adjusting the way they operate in what is a fluid and dynamic situation. But as Bon Jovi wrote for the first verse of the song, “’Round here we bend but don’t break.”
Your Financial Plan
“Start from reality,” advocates Andrea Hill of the Hill Management Group. “You can’t make good decisions if you don’t know your starting point. It seems like something that doesn’t need to be said, but when stressed, many people will go into denial and avoidance rather than face their finances.”
Do a clear-eyed review of your finances, Hill advises. How much do you have in the bank? How much is owed vendors? How much do you need to pay employees? How long can you go paying the bills?
Check with your insurance company to see if you have business interruption coverage, and if closure due to illness and/or government mandate qualifies, suggests Kate Peterson, president of Performance Concepts.
Be proactive and communicate with your creditors for deferred payments, Sherry Smith, director of business operations for The Edge Retail Academy, told jewelers in a recent webinar on navigating COVID-19 by InStore. Connect with vendor partners on how you can work together, things like special terms, drop shipping, coop advertising, and social media support.
Confer with your accountant and tax advisor regarding the best outcome for your employees and business, whether to furlough or layoff, advises Liz Chatelain, president of MVI Marketing. She notes that right now the federal government is throwing money at the problem, and like no time in history it appears to be beneficial to employees in unemployment compensation.
Moreover, the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance (EIDL) program for small business owners, offering an immediate $10,000 advance that need not be repaid (Emergency Economic Injury Grant) within three days of applying for an EIDL for those who qualify. And, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a loan program to keep small businesses afloat during mandated COVID-19-related closures. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), it authorizes up to $349 billion of federally guaranteed loans to qualifying small businesses to retain their employees. PPP will make forgivable loans of up to $10 million available to qualifying small businesses.
There is no magic bullet, says Smith, as your financial situation will guide your decision-making.
Hill advises jewelers to lead with their values. “During a crisis, your values will serve you like a port in a storm. Make every decision in harmony with your personal and business values. This isn’t just about being a good person. It’s about making good decisions. If you don’t have that centering-device you will make inconsistent decisions, second-guess yourself, and delay or avoid making decisions that must be made.”
If you haven’t already, have a transparent conversation with your team of what can be done to come out of this crisis standing on the other side — working remotely, adjusting work hours, weighing paid leave versus unpaid.
“Be open with your employees,” Hill echoes. “They’re frightened, too and deserve good information. You don’t need to sugarcoat anything. Just be open, clear and calm.” Smith advocated companies’ share with their staff a cheat sheet of links to navigate local resources for worker assistance.
Communicate with your customers to let them know what’s happening with your store, share information on your website, social media and email. If open, detail what you’re doing to maintain safety in store for employees and customers, changes in hours, and invite them to check your website for updates, news, and immediate gift needs, says Peterson. Don’t forget customers who have repairs or special orders pending, give them an update and arrange how to proceed.
Think of what you can do today in five-day increments, until things become clearer, Hill advised jewelers as a speaker in the InStore webinar.
The Jewelers Vigilance Committee has a resource page to keep jewelers informed at https://jvclegal.org/covid19/.