Nigel Quince, director of Reigate-based distributor, JDS Catering Equipment, and non-executive director of buying consortium, Cedabond, offers advice on positive steps the industry can take to generate trade:
The world has changed and we need to adjust since Covid-19 has arrived.
Let’s start by being very honest: most of the companies in our industries are run by low or moderately academic people that have either been handed the company down from father to son or people that have given it a go and worked very hard for many years to get their companies into a strong position, myself being the latter.
We have read or seen on the news that Covid-19 has changed the world we live in and I am fed up with listening to people repeatedly about how much it has affected then and it all being the government’s fault, and yes as the father of a Tory junior minster you would expect me to say that. However, I believe that in every negative there is always a positive and I have introduced this into JDS Catering Equipment.
As a board member of Cedabond I have a lot of communication with other Cedabond and CEDA members and hear all the time how business has dropped and when furlough stops in October we will have to let good staff go.
Maybe we are just lucky at JDS (or do you make your own luck) but these are a few ideas that John Spiers and I have introduced which seem to be getting results:
– Talk to your regular customers about Covid-19 and try and understand their challenges
– Talk to your customers about new items that Cedabond suppliers have introduced into the market place since the pandemic began
– Look back at your database and look for old customers that have stopped dealing with and ask yourself why not give them a call to see if you can help them with anything – what’s the worst that can happen?
– Look at the deals you can get from Cedabond suppliers, and question are you maximising your margins you can get by buying within the Cedabond network?
– Do not be frightened to ask for more help from suppliers; sales people want to help us distributors win orders for their companies which in turn secures their position
– Talk to you customers about leasing; cash flow maybe the only stumbling block stopping or holding up the project
– Do not hesitate to ask for more discount from the suppliers; they need the sales just as much as you, and they also have targets to hit and could strike a better deal for you
– Look at different areas which can be very profitable like small item sales, utensils and chemicals for instance. When we are all busy this is an area that the heavy equipment distributors leave to specialists, but at this time it could be worth an investment of time
– Email your customer database special offers or single items sales; it might just might get some sales and start up old relationship again
– Look at your staff and think is the something more they could do in working time, ie, we have one young employee in accounts who is now training to do CAD drawings in his downtime at JDS
– We have also introduced an apprentice which is being funded by the government and will before long be another valued member of staff.
And finally, my biggest tip of all if you are struggling and need help – please ask before it’s too late. Remember we have accumulated hundreds of years of knowledge available to help you, within the Cedabond and CEDA network, with great people that have a fountain of business knowledge and could help support your company in this unprecedented and challenging environment.