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Mar 29th 2020 Back to latest news

Saving our Business During Coronavirus
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Saving our Business During Coronavirus

Farmer Palmer’s Directors Sandra & Phillip Palmer have some experience of how to save and support their award-winning visitor attraction in the time of crisis.

Looking back to 2001 when Foot & Mouth was infecting cows in the UK Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park had to think on the hoof. Phillip and I had to make key decisions to ensure the future of Farmer Palmer’s. We had to:

  • Close
  • Move All cloven-hoofed animals to a different part of the farm
  • Lay off our staff for a month, they had to sign on
  • Re-market ourselves as a Play Park rather than a Farm Park
  • Re-open our doors with foot-baths for everyone’s shoes
  • Trade our way back into profit

Directors Phillip and Sandra Palmer run the family business Farmer Palmers Farm Park

Farm Parks and Visitor Attractions Normally Thrive In Spring

Spring is magical on farms. With baby lambs bouncing around in the fields. Beautiful goat kids tearing around and every animal enjoying the sun on their backs after what has been a really WET winter. Easter is normally one of our busiest times of the year. We are now thinking about May!

As Closure Became a Reality

As the world watched China we could feel the net tightening. The PM’s announcement, 2 days before Mother’s Day to close all tourist attractions was unthinkable. Something that only normally turns up on a SWOT analysis.

Brother and Sister team who run Farmer Palmer’s met at 6pm and Sandra said: “It’s got to be done”.

Friday Night we told our team and set about updating the website and social media. We had birthday parties to cancel and a plan for the team to put in place.

Considering it was such a sunny weekend and people had not mastered the art of social distancing we watched sadly.

Farmer Palmers Farm Park Brochure for Family Days Out

A month in the life of a closed business

The UK has transformed beyond recognition. And most of us haven’t had time to stop and take stock or really mourn the temporary loss of the businesses we have worked so hard to create. The businesses we are all so incredibly proud of.

Our team have all been successfully furloughed which means we look after our amazing team, they get to enjoy the sunshine, and the Government help us to give them 80% of their wages. That is a huge weight off our minds.

What Business Owners Are Doing

“In times of uncertainty, when things have no clear end, similarly, all the information is new to you and changing, it requires great communication and effective management.

Listen, learn, plan and prepare. Then take decisive action. The things we do know are ahead we can get ready for and meet it head-on.

Key in all of this is the ability to look to the horizon and into next year.  Above all, step back for a moment. Open your thoughts to creative ideas rather than focus on the immediate moment. For instance, modifying, or even writing, your  12 – 24 business plan. Start with a broad, holistic view of both challenges and opportunities.

  • this week
  • next week
  • commitments next month
  • What autumn and winter 2020 will look like, best and worse case senario
  • Who can help?

This may include stripping out the things that you thought were essential and now realise are not. By delegating to key team members you can focus on what is really important to your business. For example, how has your marketing changed?

From this, your goal is to seek order and clarity. As a result, you may find you have improved communication, guidelines, and secured a better future for yourself.”

 

 

What Are We Doing?

We are moulding and shaping a business plan which covers Annual Passes, Birthday Party Re-booking, Bump to Baby Passes, Vouchers, Free Family Entry Tickets. We are so grateful that the UK Government is announcing grants that will really help. Some are immediately accessible. Some are complex. Keeping up with all of the information is exhausting, our team do a great job!

Obviously, the time delay in the grant will cause concern amongst many businesses

Government Covid-19 Business Support We Have Accessed Already but are waiting to see

Business rates holiday

£25,000 Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme​

Government Covid-19 Business Support Which Will Be Automatic if we qualify but we will still owe this when we re-open.

HMRC Time to Pay

VAT deferral​

Government Covid-19 Business Support Which Will Be Accessed If Required

Reimbursement of Statutory Sick Pay

Government Covid-19 Business Support Which Needs a Full Business Plan and Forecasting, tricky when an opening date, as social distancing measures are the unknown!

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme​

Government Covid-19 Business Support Which won’t Work For Us As We Have To Work On Our Business

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Income Tax deferral for self-employed individuals

Source of Links: Sage Who Have Been Really Helpful

Swans on the pond

Take The Time To Reflect – Month One

As I reflect on the month I am thankful the sun is shining, the lambs are bleating and I know the CBILS form is a tricky critter!
Time to spring clean the beast that is our businesses guys!

  1. Communication and remote working -nailed
  2. Projects are being put under the microscope
  3. Documents on computers, old emails etc can be archived or cleaned out
  4. Financial reporting is going in the cloud – and only the key stuff

Simplification will prevail over – “Because we have always done it like this”
This is an opportunity to become leaner and keener ready for “On the other side”
Reflect and Think
Pause and Reboot
What do you plan to change?

Think about which areas are providing the best value to your customers. Can you improve that offering? Have you learned a new skill? I have learned Zoom! Are you re-opening press release written? I know I am busy writing the blogs about the Palmer family history you have asked for.

Spring Cleaning

Can you empty those emails from 2016 or archive folders? Does your website need a tidy up for broken links etc? Are the images you are holding on your computers really marketing quality or just taking up space? Are the jobs you had in the pipeline now really so important after all?

Blue skies with white fluffy clouds at Farmer Palmer's

 

 

 

 

Blue Sky Thinking and Light Bulb Moments!

On a brighter note, we came up with a new idea. When I was having to speak to some mums and refund money for Birthdays an idea sprung into my head. A real light bulb moment.

Have you started taking videos related to your business? Nature is huge for us. Sharing the countryside by photo. Many people will find new job roles as they cast aside the old way of working.

Birthday Party Shout Outs

We are loving recording happy birthday video messages to all of the children who sadly had their parties cancelled in March, April, or May. The fun thing about this is we are getting lots of other parents asking us for birthday messages for their children. We can definitely do photo shout outs. Please email fun@farmerpalmers.co.uk for this with at least 5 days’ notice.

The animals joined in and it has received such a great response!

Saving our Business During Coronavirus – written by Sandra Palmer-Snellin March 2020. Updated April 20