One way or another, COVID-19 has likely impacted your business — for better or worse. We’ve been busy creating content to help you through this challenging time. It is organized here by category to help you easily navigate through it all.

Many businesses facing COVID-related closures must make the difficult decision to temporarily lay off or furlough employees. Here's how to handle it properly.

From transparent communication to offering emotional support, there are several best practices small business owners can take if forced to lay off employees during coronavirus.

As cities and states across the nation implement business closures and "shelter in place" mandates for coronavirus, countless small businesses are facing an unthinkable reality: They can't afford to pay their staff until they're allowed to reopen their doors.

This is a difficult and likely heart-wrenching decision for business owners. Luckily, the newly passed CARES Act contains a provision that allows businesses to take out loans to cover payroll can be converted to a grant. For more on those loans, see our full story here.

If you find that you end up having to furlough staff after all, there are ways to handle the situation properly and survive it. Here are some steps to take if you are forced to cut back your staff during the coronavirus outbreak.

Come up with a plan
If your business is forced to shut down entirely, it may be inevitable that you need to lay off your entire staff. However, if you are able to continue operating but simply need to scale back, it may be wise to design an "on-off" furlough plan so your employees are not completely without income for months on end.

Staff need to feel that they still matter to the company and haven't just been abandoned or forgotten about.
From promoting gift cards and discounts to holding online events, there are several ways small businesses can hold on to and engage with their customers during this difficult time.

Social distancing, while good for public health, is bad for small businesses. Many business owners are worried that the impact of COVID-19 will be deeper and more long-lasting than anticipated. As a result, distributors are looking for ways to keep their customers during the coronavirus lockdown. Here are some tips to keep your employees and customers engaged from a distance.

Communicate proactively with your customers
The situation is evolving rapidly, and no one is quite sure what news each day will bring. Customers can empathize with distributors facing a crisis, as long as you communicate with them properly. Let your customers know if you’re closing your doors, changing your hours and what steps you’re taking to keep your employees and work environment safe and clean. If your business is closing, notify your customers on your social media channels, through email and on your website. If your business is staying open, describe the steps you’re taking to mitigate risk.

Beyond letting customers know the logistics of your approach, give them a way to stay connected. Customers spending more time at home will still need to shop for things. Direct consumers to your zoom meeting, take orders over social media and be prepared for more people to view your website than in previous months.

Recognize that most consumers are craving entertainment while being quarantined at home. So give them a reason to reach out to you.
From boosting liquidity to avoiding wasteful expenses, these expert-recommended strategies may benefit various businesses that are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

The worldwide coronavirus outbreak threatens to disrupt operations for companies large and small for the foreseeable future. In fact, 82% of business leaders recently surveyed by the Young President’s Organization anticipate revenue declines over the next six months. To help stem losses, 95% of chief executives polled are taking action, including canceling major events (64%), nixing business travel (53%), cutting costs (39%), and allowing employees to telecommute (28%).

There’s much you can’t control during uncertain times like these, but you can take steps to protect your business from being financially crippled by COVID-19. While we recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, following are three expert-recommended strategies to consider in helping your business survive the pandemic.

Forecast cash flow and boost liquidity
James Cassel, co-founder and chairman of investment banking firm Cassel Salpeter & Co., said your company’s survival depends on addressing financial/liquidity issues during this crisis.

“Create a 13-week cash flow forecast, which should be stress-tested to explore likely scenarios, including worst-case scenarios,” he said. “Here, you must consider your cash needs looking ahead after thoroughly reviewing fixed and variable expenses.” Concurrently, seize every opportunity to maximize cash inflow by offering cash reductions to customers and clients who pay more quickly. “You also want to make what you have last longer. To help, reschedule where you can toward a longer payment period for outstanding expenses. And head to the negotiation table with your vendors, keeping in mind that many of them are facing the same issues you are,” added Cassel. Lastly, amplify liquidity via extended credit, a second mortgage or a business loan. Small business owners impacted by COVID-19 in many states are now eligible to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loan.

How can Vernon help?

Enter an order, get paid on the next week’s commission statement. No waiting for the order to ship, no waiting for the customer to pay before you get paid.
HELP BEFORE THE ORDER
When you need a helping hand for everything that needs to be done before the sale - our Pre-Sales Team has you covered. From doing product research for your latest client project to getting quotes from suppliers, this group of experienced support people is available by phone or email. And if you've got a customer who wants custom products, this team will make that process easy.

Product quoting
Finding the right supplier
Custom orders
Off-shore quoting

CUSTOMER SERVICE
Need a bill sent out today? No problem! Would you like to give a client 60 days to pay? We may be able do that as well. How about setting up a program where a customer can get monthly releases on an order and be billed when the product is released? Not only will we do that, but if we have pre-determined quantities and dates we can pay the commissions up-front when the order is placed.

How about selling calendar orders in January for next year and getting paid next week? Not to mention that we do not bill the client until December! You can even sell our exclusive caps and split an order so that half can be shipped today and the remaining half can be shipped anytime within the next year. The customer only pays for the half that they have today, but the account executive gets paid for the entire order next week. Now that is financial support!
Have you ever had a customer not pay a bill? Sure, we all have had this happen! Vernon’s credit team is extremely proud of the fact that our bad debts last year were less than 0.3 of 1%. And because we believe in a true partnership, we allow up to 150 days for clients to pay us before we charge back the amount of the commissions that was advanced to the Account Executive. Vernon is responsible for the supplier payment.

The Vernon Company is recognized as one of the largest and most successful promotional product firms in North America. Founded in 1902 by F.L. Vernon, we serve more than 40,000 customers from our Newton, Iowa corporate headquarters.

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