Equine Retailers – 5 Steps To Take Right Now To Ride Out Coronavirus
For the equine retailers out there who are heading into tough times (if you’re not there already), I wanted to share with you five things that you can be taking action on immediately to help your business get through all the Corona craziness.
I’m Christina Jones & I’m the founder of the Equine Business Association. For over a decade, I had a business that supplied retailers in the equine sector and I am the third generation in my family to have had my own independent retail store. So while it’s not something that’s a big part of my business mix right now, I’ve been in your shoes and so I wanted to share with you five things that you can be taking action on immediately.
1) Free Up Cashflow From Your Dead Stock
The first one is to free up cashflow from your dead stock. As retailers, it’s our guilty secret. We’ve all got the things that just haven’t sold for whatever reason and you need to turn that into liquid cash as fast as you can. It’s painful letting things go for less than the trade price you paid for it, but that cash right now is going to really help you. That stock is sat on your shelves, sucking the life out of your store and you personally, so this is the perfect time to shed it all with a crazy sale.
2) Replace Trade Stands
Number 2 is for those of you who are looking to replace trade stands, so where you’re selling in booths or exhibitions at horse events all over the country. Certainly in the US those have already been cancelled and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the UK we have some big announcements in the next couple of days and then suddenly you’re seeing a big source of revenue going down the pan. You may already have the stock or it’s on order so, how do you replace that? No easy answer to this, but the fastest thing to do is start selling online. Selling wholesale is probably not an option right now because if there are restrictions on visiting, it’s going to make it difficult to get around the stores.
If you want to sell online and you don’t already, I would 100% recommend Shopify. My digital agency is a Shopify partner and I’ve used Shopify personally for five years. Shopify starts at £9 a month and I believe the US equivalent is literally $9 and if you buy through the link there is no additional charge to you but, Shopify will send me a little thank you present. In return, I will very happily have a call with you and help you either with your setup or the marketing strategy for your store. So get selling online quickly!
3) Partner Up
Number 3 is partner up. The one advantage you have compared to general retail is that horses still need feeding and a lot of people come into their local equine retailer to buy feed and bedding. This is perhaps an opportunity for you to partner with other non-equestrian businesses.
If movement is restricted, is there something else you can stock? Can you speak to other local businesses who will either give you stock on sale or return or can you sell fresh milk, for example, for a short period of time to give people more reason to come to you? But also I’m thinking about the wider community as you’re reducing the amount of times that people need to be leaving their house and visiting different stores. Equally, it may well be that your local village shops will act as a collection point so that your horse feeds sales can continue through other retailers.
On a similar note, Number 4 is could you consider doing some deliveries yourself? You might not be set up for this at the moment, but I’d say you could possibly keep it very simple. If you have a van (and a great deal of you have got three and a half tonne horse lorries) can you commit to doing deliveries? Firstly, you’re really helping your customers out and secondly you’re keeping your cashflow going and some brand loyalty.
And then my final point, Number 5 comes back to cashflow. So number one, you were freeing up some cash from stock, but that may not be enough and so you need to look elsewhere. The banks are coming on board to offer support so they would typically be your first point of call. They are extending lines of credit and waiving fees so speak to them. And, we’ve also got the government helping here in the UK. There are certain grants you’re going to be able to claim and if you currently pay business rates there’s some small business rate relief. A great place to go for help with that is either HMRC directly or the Federation of Small Business (FSB), but certainly look into what’s available.
Please be honest with your suppliers. If you’re going to find it difficult to pay invoices don’t bury your head in the sand, have a conversation with them, see if you can extend payment terms or make a part payment. You’ve got a much better chance of coming out the other end still having a commercial relationship with them.
And then finally, a couple of other places to look out for finance that you might not have thought about. PayPal have working capital, so if you use PayPal for card readers and taking payment, you’ll probably find it’s one of the easiest ways to get hold of money quickly. There are also other options like Iwoca. I’m talking mainly from my experience here in the UK but in general, as opposed to a loan where you have to hit a certain payment on a monthly basis, working capital is where you pay back a percentage of your sales. It will give you a bit more flexibility in such uncertain trade in periods.
I will say though, I am not a financial advisor and this is not financial advice! I just wanted to make you aware because a lot of people don’t know that working capital exists.
So those are my five things. And if there’s anything I can do, if there’s anything that the Equine Business Association can do, please reach out and make sure you are taking part in our community. Let’s support each other, collaborate and ride the storm together.