Cash controls during Coronavirus lock down
Focus on livery yards and riding schools – each has different challenges
It is assumed you will maintain your income stream during the lockdown – see previous blog concerning customer retention.
Income may go up if your clients require increased service provision but of course your costs will increase as well. Depending where you are geographically, the weather may have been kind and horses can out for longer so if you are a full service yard this should mean reduced feed and bedding costs.
Your cash flow will have to be examined in minute detail because it is highly possible that riding schools with see little or no income until July or even August. So, wipe all income from your spreadsheets and take stock of the end result. It will of course be very scary so, what can be done?
All costs must be smashed down to the lowest possible levels, e.g. taking shoes off horses (front and back), longer turn out reduces feed and bedding costs, fewer vet bills (hopefully) will all help.
Any pre-paid lessons are important to hang on to. Issuing refunds when you have no money coming in will make life even more difficult. See previous blog on retention during lock down.
If you run competitions or a riding club, try and run online competitions such as at-home jumping and at-home dressage – issue and send out rosettes. Have quizzes and so on – it will generate a small revenue but keep your customers engaged at the same time.
Applicable to all riding centres
The aim will be to maintain a positive cash out-turn to the end of July and beyond
- Check your insurance policy to see if you have business interruption cover.
- Apply for all grants and business rates reliefs that you can. Speak with your local council and the local Growth Hub to see what you are eligible for. EBC can assist if required.
- There is a Community Emergency Fund for CIC or Charity centres. If you have had Sport England funding previously, you will have a better chance, but the application process is simple so try it. EBC can assist if required.
- Reduce all staff costs where possible. Reference to an HR professional regarding Employment Law would be advisable. EBC can point you in the right direction if required:
- the furlough schemes and self-assessment schemes may apply
- freelance and part time staff – look at reducing hours, pay rates, unpaid holidays, volunteer hours etc.
- Ask customers and friends to volunteer, perhaps for riding lessons or other favours later when conditions permit.
Now, check your cash flow again and revisit all cost lines, then reduce the costs further still. Negotiate with all suppliers to see if you can temporarily reduce payments, get better rates or have payment holidays beyond lock down.
Talk to HMRC and ask for deferred payments until the end of lock down. This will not be a payment relief or grant so you will need to find the cash eventually.
If still have a shortfall, speak with your bank. You may be able to get a capital repayment holiday on any business loans you have (interest must still be paid). You could apply for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) if you are eligible. The bank will take a risk on 20% of the debt and the government will guarantee 80%. This has to be paid back over 6 years (maximum) so your business plan will have to demonstrate your ability to repay. EBC can assist you if required. temporary facilities such an overdraft may be another route to obtaining funds.
Finally – plan the relaunch!
This is a positive thing for you personally, but it also keeps you in contact with your customers. The guidelines will eventually relax, and much like we are waiting for the government to announce the process, think about what you will do so your customers know your plans. Will it be special offers, new services, improvements to existing services or just a big party! Generate interest and enthusiasm for your centre to start bringing in cash at the earliest opportunity!
- Keep your cash flow forecast positive
- Except for livery yards, assume no income until July or August
- Smash down your costs
As ever the theory sounds sensible and simple but behind it is hard work, permanent attention to detail, team building, being proficient at marketing, be willing to talk to all your customers (not just the preferred friends) whilst retaining the flair, creativity and positive attitude of a business leader.
I will continue to publish these blogs and articles outlining key strategies for building a really successful livery and riding centre. Over the last seven years, my wife Jo and I have built up what we think is a very successful enterprise that we are proud of www.reinandshine.co.uk We made our own mistakes and learnt a lot on the way.
But when we started there was no help anywhere, from anyone in the riding centre market. A few marketing people but no real insider business knowledge specifically for riding establishments. Well now there is.