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BRA Covid-19 Retailer Resource Guide (strategies, webinars, loans and more)

BRA Covid-19 Retailer Resource Guide (strategies, webinars, loans and more)

Welcome to the BRA COVID-19 Resource Guide. Below you will find resources for the benefit of all board specialty retailers (BRA Retail Members and non-members alike) during this challenging period. The Board Retailers Association is actively aggregating resources to assist you in navigating these uncharted waters. We will be updating this page with additional resources as they arise. If you are interested in contributing relevant information or helpful resources that will benefit other board specialty retailers, please email our Executive Director at doug@boardretailers.org

Relevant and trustworthy online resources providing facts related to transmission of Covid-19 (Corona Virus) and strategies to battle the spread #spreadthestokenotthevirus

Flatten The Curve   Everything you and your customers need to know to battle COVID-19 is on this website

https://www.cdc.gov/ Center for Disease Control (CDC) Official Website

Image Courtesy of Reddit / Darth Voter

Relevant and free educational webinars happening soon

WEBINAR: COVID-19 WEBINAR: UNDERSTANDING WHAT’S IN THE ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE

The U.S. government has approved over $2 trillion in new stimulus spending to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The funding will be distributed to certain American businesses, consumers and federal safety net programs in the coming months.

Learn more about the major components of the stimulus package and what may come next from Congress in this short, informative presentation by Monument Advocacy, a leading, bipartisan government and public affairs firm in Washington, D.C. Thursday, April 2nd 1:00 p.m. EST / 10:00 a.m. PST Presented by T.A. Hawks, Kimberly Ellis and Matt McAlvanah, Monument Advocacy, Washington, D.C. Register For This Webinar

Completed Webinars that can be viewed again:
>Small Business Development Center Preparing for Covid-19 – What Small Businesses Should Do

> Outdoor Industry Economic Impact of Coronavirus and What Happens Next and SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Information for Small Businesses

>Procopio’s Labor & Employee Team Answers to the Questions Employers should be asking regarding COVID-19

>Procopio discussion on how business insurance can help cover losses related to COVID-19

>With rent being one of the highest monthly expenses for brick and mortar retail businesses, it’s a good idea to approach the subject of temporarily altering the structure of your agreement. The Art of Landlord Negotiation to Ease the Highest Monthly Expense In Retail”

Financial Resources and Government Updates

Tap into financial assistance, tax relief and other options.
State by State Tax Relief -The American Institute for Certified Public Accountants has created a guide for state tax filing guidance for the coronavirus pandemic 

Tax Filing Update from the IRS – Details extension on tax filing deadline

U.S. Small Business Administration – Funding options – The SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. According to the SBA, small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible for a low interest loan due to the coronavirus.

Small Business Resources from the US Chamber of Commerce– The coronavirus is causing financial difficulties for businesses across the U.S. Here are five resources that can help you navigate this difficult situation

Lobbying Efforts on Behalf of Small Business – Provided by the Institute for Local Self Reliance

Overview of Federal COVID-19 Relief Bills – Update on government efforts to support individuals and businesses. 

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released a mandatory employee rights poster that should be posted or be distributed to employees electronically (email or online portal) by April 1st. Also be sure to visit their Questions and Answers page

U.S. Chamber Foundation – Corona Virus Response Resources

IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief – https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus

U.S. Small Business Administration – Funding options – The SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. According to the SBA, small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible for a low interest loan due to the coronavirus.

A plan of attack

So many possible ways to address concerns over this developing situation. Here are a a number of possible strategies (compiled from a variety of trusted online resources as well as professional retail business consultants) that as retailers you can focus your attention on right now:

  • Confront the threat
    • Hoping for the best is NOT a strategy. Accept the fact that a real threat to your business is imminent, and organize a team meeting with your employees to formulate a strategy and manage expectations.
  • Contact every vendor
    • Find out what is getting shipped and how they are dealing with supply chain interruptions. If you cannot handle additional product or your invoice right now, convey that to them as well as the sentiment that you absolutely value them as a brand partner and want to work with them to set up a plan over the next few months. Realize that the brands are suffering from and were blindsided by this horrible pandemic too. Be sure to use this time to build Vendor relationships.
    • Convey specific instructions related to accepting goods from your vendors, based on issues including closures and staff shortages related to coronavirus threats.
    • Start the conversation about fall orders now, and position yourself in the front of the line by communicating clear needs and timelines for delivery. 
    • Hustle to get the goods!! Reassess your vendor list and sourcing channels to explore new product lines that could resonate with your audience.
  • Push Gift Cards!!!
    • Fact: 20% of the value of all Gift Cards are never redeemed
    • Some of your customers may not have an immediate need to purchase products from your online, but most will want to keep your business from sinking by simply purchasing a Gift Card
    • You can incentivize your Gift Card Sales by tying a five to fifteen percent bonus on the dollar amount for every $25 increment.
    • In these uncertain times, you may not be able to effectively fulfill online orders due to closures and potential delays in shipping but you can always send an email to confirm payment that you can hold until you reopen.
    • Consider receiving other forms of payment including via VENMO, Paypal, Credit Card over the phone or other formats that do not involve actual touching of cash or commonly used credit card terminals.
  • Engage your customers on Instagram and Facebook even more now
    • Just because your doors are closed does not mean you cannot create remarkable customer experiences via social media
    • Host Instagram and Facebook contests
    • Post and repost positive / helpful images and videos reduce fears, help build shop loyalty and sell Gift Cards.
    • Filming and posting videos of you speaking directly to your customers and reassuring them that you will be there for them in the future despite your doors being closed now.
  • Analyze and organize your product classes
    • Inventory is the lifeblood of your store, and it’s important to know how these goods flow in and out if you are to make more informed decisions. Organizing your goods into meaningful classes and sub-classes—and structuring your sales reports around them—will provide quicker insight into what merchandise is resonating with your customers. This data is crucial when prioritizing which items to source as you enter a difficult buying market.
    • Your unexpected down time should be used to sharpen your business tools and processes not to binge watch
  • Markdowns: Hold off on clearance and deep discounts
    • The risk of inventory shortages should give you pause on that next clearance sale. Evaluating your inventory flow at the class level can reveal which areas can absorb a markdown without stocking out. 
    • Providing a discount on shop branded product can be justifiable since your margins are typically higher and those products also serve to promote your business. Hit us up if you would like to be introduced to one of our Vendor Partners that will accomodate lower minimums and lower prices on shop branded product for BRA Regular and Distinguished Members
  • Consider slightly increasing markups on select items
    • Don’t stop at markdowns.  Spend the time and energy necessary to see where you can grab a little more margin from hot sellers without alienating your customers.
  • Alleviate customer concerns
    • Your customers are seeing the same media coverage about the coronavirus as you are.  Getting ahead enables you to use all available lines of communication to confidently ease their concerns about product availability and even store cleanliness. 
    • As mentioned above, a video post of you speaking to and relating to your customers will go a long way.
  • Be a community leader, cross-promote other businesses in your retail community and share positive and helpful information.
    • All ships rise with the tide. You are a community leader (whether you like it or not). Lead your community by organizing with other community oriented business owners and sending a message that pulls the community together for a common goal of increasing awareness, positivity and even local sales while decreasing fear and negativity.
    • Reaching out to fellow retailers could reveal strategies that might work in your store as well. 
  • Assess your financial position and don’t hide from your Landlord
    • When was the last time you did a full break-even or a comprehensive financial analysis of your store? A reality check could help uncover areas of flexibility to help increase your cash flow and improve long term operational practices.
    • Approach your landlord in a way that requests rental abatement for April and May professionally while conveying what other costs that you are reducing and what else you are doing to keep your business running.

You can email doug@boardretailers.org if you would like us to send you this customizable form letter template as well as some links to relevant articles that back up your position, which you can send along to your Landlord with the letter.

If you are not already a BRA Regular (no cost) or Distinguished Retail Member, please complete the super simple join form and (once received) we will email you the template and links as well as the link to access the BRA Office Depot Preferential Pricing Program.

Additional applicable retail related articles and resourceful websites via the following links:

PLEASE NOTE:  That although the informational resources and strategies contained in this resource guide were derived from what were deemed as reliable and credible sources, the views and opinions of those sources are not necessarily in line with those of the Board Retailers Association, its Board of Directors, its Chairman or its Executive Director. In addition, we are not legal, tax or financial consultants and highly recommend consulting your lawyer or accountant before making significant financial related decisions.

From time to time, BRA will be sending out updates that we consider important to our board specialty retail community. To stay informed and receive special benefits related to Board Retailers Association including the Office Depot Preferential Pricing Program, be sure that you opt in to our email distribution list by joining as a Regular (no cost) or Distinguished Retail Member via this super simple join form.

You can also follow Board Retailers Association on social media via Facebook and Instagram.

Do not hesitate to call, text or email our Executive Director with any questions or if you need anything that this guide does not cover.

Doug Works

Executive Director

Board Retailers Association

760-500-5716

doug@boardretailers.org