With various reports and predictions circulating about when and which businesses will be able to reopen, along the number of businesses that are unlikely to survive lockdown, it’s now that business owners need to look at if, and how, they can adapt to the new normal. Here, Marc Smith (48), MD of GHS Heating & Plumbing based in Hampshire, talks through how using the online business community tool, BBX, saved his business.
“We suffered a great deal when lockdown started, we were doing really well, and were on actually on track to double the size of the business and then lockdown happened. We worked predominantly with pubs and as a result had a huge £800,000 hole in our business and lost about 90% of our clients mid-March. I decided to tackle the issue head-on and used this time to invest in the company, the staff and in the local community. My priority was protecting the cash reserves I had left, so I utilised our BBX account to fund these improvements.
For the company, the first thing I did was employ a funding expert, Maureen Frost, through BBX. She was an absolute lifesaver and helped me navigate the very confusing landscape of grants and loans that were available. Like many businesses, I haven’t received any of these government grants as yet, so I’m glad that I went through all the applications when I did, as who knows how long they’ll take. For anyone else that’s still trying to make sense of these, I would strongly advise getting in someone to help, I doubt I could have done it without her, and she definitely saved me a huge amount of stress and made sure I got as much support as I could.
Once all the applications were in process, I turned my attention to streamlining the business and started with installing a new CRM via BBX, this is something I’d been meaning to do for years but could never find the time. Usually we have so many jobs on the go that introducing something like a new CRM would have been very disruptive, but with weeks without work, this task suddenly became much easier to do. The new CRM will streamline the business and make the logistics and admin side of things run much more smoothly when we’re back in business.
For the community, the first thing we did was offer a free telephone service for fixing boilers, where our engineers were on hand to talk through people’s boiler issues to try and fix them over the phone. The second thing we worked on was the GHS Trust, we set this trust up when one of our engineers met a vulnerable person that couldn’t afford to have their boiler fixed, the engineer asked us if he could use his spare time to fix it and of course we agreed, and so the GHS Trust was born. During lockdown the GHS Trust is working hard with our engineers donating their time and GHS donating parts.
For the staff, I really wanted to support them as much as possible while they were furloughed. I know a lot of my engineers have families and so I used an incentive scheme on BBX, Perk Cards, to get them all a card that gave them discounts on their grocery shops. I also wanted to use this down time to upskill my engineers, so I’ve been looking into all sorts of training via BBX from health and safety, to asbestos training. If I can give something back and help them keep busy, I hope to make this difficult time a bit easier for them. None of us really know when this is going to end, or how it will affect families and businesses, but for me, they are one and the same. My team are my family, and I really wanted to do everything I could for them, and I wated them to feel as valued and supported as possible.”
GHS Article – Published in Refrigeration & Air Conditioning (June 2020)
GHS Article – Published in H & V News (June 2020)