Philip Youles, the vice-chairman of the National Motorcycle Dealers Association (NMDA), has written an open letter to members providing practical advice, hope and support as the coronavirus crisis tightens its grip on the nation.
Dear NMDA member,
I am writing as the COVID-19 virus wreaks havoc through the UK economy, not to mention the lives that will undoubtably be lost.
However, there is no point in us putting our heads in our hands and doing nothing. As deputy chair of the NMDA, I am writing to give you support and hope. There are a few things we should do and sooner rather than later.
Most of the major manufacturers are talking about re-ageing stock, and let’s hope they can do so. But we must be responsible for our own business and, as sure as I am that everyone is trying, don’t bank on it happening.
That brings me to banks. Speak to them and speak to them now. Many banks have a shadow limit on your account, so ask them if there is one on your account as you should know. Will they extend your overdraft limit? If you have a mortgage will they give you a capital repayment holiday? The same question needs to be asked about any loans you have.
Hold VAT, national insurance, corporation tax payments, and talk to them – they all have schemes for helping people pay even in the good times.
If you are in rented property, talk to your landlord as they might just settle for a reduced payment.
Stop your direct debit for your rates and negotiate with them afterwards – you are not going to get evicted today. Yes, you might be entitled to rates relief under the Chancellor’s scheme but why wait for them to sort that out.
Look at every cost and where possible cut it. Even simple things like doing your own cleaning can save a few bob.
Above all, talk to your staff – you will have to consult over redundancy and reduced working hours, but these are exceptional times so take any necessary action quickly and above all with consideration, care and fairly. Don’t forget your staff are possibly your biggest asset and when things pick up you will need them.
Look at your business and offer contactless purchases, and things like offering to push a bike outside for a customer to view. Contactless service drop-off and collection are also good options.
Now is a good time to review your online presence and business.
Above all, trade will return, so use the time wisely to prepare for when it does. Think of all that money customers have saved by not going on holiday or out to restaurants – this will inevitably be spent somewhere.
Philip Youles, NMDA Vice-Chair