During the lockdown period, our Regional Business Partner Network (RBP) team have been flat-out helping businesses manage and overcome the challenges they face due to COVID-19.
Around 600 or so Bay of Plenty businesses have accessed the support of the RBP programme through the Biz Hub helpline. From cashflow, wage subsidy and HR advice, through to business continuity, health and safety and future planning, the queries have been varied.
One of those businesses was The General, a Mount Maunganui cafe. Its owners Aaron and Malika were eligible for capability funding, to gain access to one-on-one support with one of the RBP’s expert providers, The Icehouse.
We caught up with them to find out how they were helped and what their future looks like.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business, particularly heading into lockdown?
Going into lockdown we saw a slow decline in trade two to three weeks prior, then there was a significant decline the week prior to lockdown as we went from L2 to L4. Lockdown meant a complete cease of trading for us.
What do you think the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be for your business?
We have made the decision that we will not be opening in Level 3 as it is not viable for our business so we will be at least seven weeks without trading. This was a decision that was not taken lightly. We went through many different scenarios, but unfortunately the best decision for the business was to stay closed during L3.
Obviously for any business it is tough to pull back from that and with restrictions in L2 we will still not see our space used to its full capacity. We are concerned about the social change that COVID will have brought to the community. There is no doubt it will affect the way our business was running pre-COVID. We are using this time to work on refining the business.
How did you hear about the Chamber’s RBP services?
I first heard about the services prior to opening The General, but like many people starting out in a new business it was head down and working from the get go.
I talked with one of the Chamber’s employees at a Groundswell breakfast last year and told her of some of the trials and tribulations I was having in business. She provided me with information at that point of all the great services the Chamber offers. I then attended an event that Priority One and the Chamber put on the week prior to the lockdown. It was a great community event where you very quickly realised everyone was in the same boat. They made it very clear they were there to assist in any way they could. I was again talking with the same employee and I knew that if there was anytime to join it was going to be now.
How did you find the process and what was your experience of this?
The process was incredibly easy, quick and enjoyable.
What is the planned work you will be undertaking with Icehouse? What kind of areas are you getting support for?
We are determined to get our business up and running so our planned work with Icehouse is looking at survival and pivoting in the short term, along with growth in long term.
We feel incredibly fortunate to have been granted the funds to have the opportunity to work with Icehouse. They have been encouraging, inspiring and have set us on a very direct course with where we need to be heading.
This coaching is exactly what we needed and will play a big role in us hitting the ground running. With every aspect of the business being thought through and the power of being accountable to someone else who has your businesses best interests at heart will drive us through this.
As we move into a COVID affected business world, the RBP team are here to help you plan for now and into the future, to help you overcome any challenges you may face and help put your local business in front of customers.
To access this support, please contact the RBP team on the Biz Hub helpline: 0800 BIZ HUB or firstname.lastname@example.org