NAJ News

Coronavirus Advice (part four) from NAJ

20 Mar 2020

coronavirus IV-NAJ

Image: defense.gov

NAJ recognise the unexpected pressures that you and your business are facing at this time and we would like to send a clear message of support, offering telephone guidance in addition to the benefits that are available to you as part of your membership package.

Take five minutes to review your member benefits and services; you will require your NAJ member area login to delve further into all the benefits available to you, including some which are referenced below.   

The Association is following up on our letter to PM Boris Johnson requesting further support for UK business. The measures so far, while welcome, will not help many businesses for whom loans are of little use. We further request that UK Government introduce the following measures:

  • An immediate freeze on PAYE and NIC 
  • An immediate freeze on VAT for UK businesses 
  • An immediate freeze on retail unit rent payments 
  • Further clarity on the loans promised to UK businesses 
  • Greater support on business interruption insurance, pension and payroll contributions 
  • Salary payment support, as in other European countries, such as the introduction of a universal basic income 
  • A request that all employees must be encouraged to take any paid holiday during the hiatus – we will need all hands to the pumps after this is over.

We hope that our voice will be heard. NAJ Chief Executive Simon Forrester is meeting with the Independent Retail Consortium on Monday to discuss further lobbying on behalf of the whole retail sector. We will, of course, keep you updated as things change.

If you have any suggestions about what else you would like to see in the Chancellor’s package of support for our sector, please contact simon@naj.co.uk direct.

 

Again, the following links are key reference points for you to explore, as well as your local authority where several the support schemes are to be administered.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response

Other government links:

Information on Government support to businesses 

Register for regular Government Updates 

 

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Maintaining reputation and staying connected

With the current severe lack of footfall in UK towns and cities and the increasing likelihood of a ‘lockdown’, many business leaders will no doubt be having to consider difficult and delicate decisions in order to maintain commercial objectives. As previously referenced, NAJ has called upon the government to implement further action such as declaring high streets off-limits and enabling many retailers to claim on their insurance, but what happens once the situation has passed? Restoring consumer confidence quickly is absolutely mission-critical.

Coronavirus has sparked a huge jump in social media use, so members that are turning to their platforms to engage with customers are making a sensible decision to maintain communication and do good for their reputation. Some examples I’ve seen over the recent weeks include members using WhatsApp to broadcast to their client base giving the latest information on a one to one basis. 

This may be about current service levels or opening hours, as well as invite a friendly chat if people are feeling isolated, the later with an invite to come into store once the situation has passed (a pledge in many ways). If you are not currently using WhatsApp broadcast it’s a good time for someone to set this up for you. This is in addition to your newsletters and mailing lists that you use such as ConstantContact or Mailchimp. However, engagement is likely to be generally much higher for WhatsApp broadcasts as most people will be using their mobiles through the pandemic to ‘stay tuned’.

LinkedIn is also a powerful means of engaging one to one, not necessarily with your local community, but to keep in contact with other business professionals in the supply chain. The NAJ LinkedIn Group is available for members to join and post questions or comments.

Likewise, if you do have a particular question please let us know what it is and we can share for responses from the wider membership, with no reference to any organisations. Of course, retailers who are part of the JET Business Network will benefit from the JBN community to reach out to others. 

As well as communicating with your network one to one, other key platforms to maintain your presence include Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Utilising stories and posts on both to work through the range of items you stock over the coming weeks should aim to keep awareness high as well as wetting the appetite for buying more jewellery. Keeping people excited about Jewellery is the key here. Jewellery can be recognition for getting through challenges experiences together, a sign of love and affection and also reinvent the old to the new. Posts which highlight ranges that present how certain pieces were brought back to life, or cleaned up, repaired or even reformed through a bespoke request demonstrate just what is possible, as well as featuring customer stories of engagements and other milestones.

If you’re unsure what to post or when to post, we like this blog from sprout social on how to create a social media calendar that works.

Facebook particularly is a powerful way of plugging into engagement with the local community. Sharing news from the town or city, collaborating with other town/ city centre retailers to pledge a return to the local high street once things have passed can, potentially, help to restore activity after this pandemic has passed. With scenarios like this, it’s important to not shy away from social media, in fact quite the opposite. Posting about what the business is, and why it cares for its customers is vital and can strengthen your reputation.

We’ll be making every effort to share what members are doing on social media (as examples of good practice) to stay engaged with their community as well as answer any queries or advice on this subject. Make sure you’re following the Associations social media channels to learn about these examples:

NAJ on Facebook 

NAJ on Instagram 

NAJ on LinkedIn 

NAJ on Twitter 

 

Member benefits and webinars 

As and when we learn about relevant webinars, we will share with members through our social media channels, as well as reference them in our regular updates. If you learn about a webinar which will be useful for other members, please share with us so we can bring it to the attention of others. 

 

Upcoming Webinars 

Free webinar for relevant HR matters concerning Coronavirus (registration required) 

Free webinar for HR Advice – any topics considered

Free ACAS Webinars for Employers (registration required)

 

HiUp JET Certificate

NAJ Education

In a further step to support the Jewellery Community, the NAJ is offering free access to its online JET Essentials programme, as many members consider the implications of the Coronavirus pandemic on their business. 

The programme, which is designed to give students a strong grounding and appetite to progress in their own jewellery journey, is a precursor to the well-respected JET Certificate and Diploma and promises to help develop confidence to better serve the needs of the customer in the future.

Enrol onto free JET Essentials Module

 

General Advice

Which Advice for Small Businesses and the self-employed

McKinsey Report on Covid-19 implications for business

 

Your NAJ Member Benefits 

We have a number of benefits and services that may be particularly useful to you and your business right now, they are detailed below; 

1. NAJ Better Business HR Support Service 

Providing NAJ members with HR Support.  Do you need to understand your rights as an employer and those of your employees during this difficult time?

2. NAJ Better Business Legal Support Service 

Legal advice.  Our free to members legal service is available to answer questions about your rights with contracts, tenancies & disputes, along with any other legal matters.

3. NAJ Better Business Advice 

Check out business advice and blogs provided by our partners at SAGE who are providing tips for businesses at this challenging time.

4. Courier Services 

If you currently offer a courier service as part of your customer solution, take a look at offers made available to NAJ members.  This may be particularly useful to members who are looking to temporarily change the way they sell/offer their products/services to the consumer. 

5. Insurance & Financial Services 

Cover for the unexpected with our insurance offers and discounts.  Contact TH March to explore the enhanced benefits when joining the TH March Club.  Our financial services providers are also at hand to answer any questions regarding changes to the way that you process payments. 

6. NAJ Community 

The NAJ operate for its members.  We feel a strong sense of community and it’s important that we have the correct details for you. If you have the time, please review your online profile with the NAJ, to ensure your contact details are up to date. This will ensure that we are able to communicate any news that is useful to you at this challenging time. 

 

The NAJ staff team are available during normal office hours, by calling 0121 237 1110. 

 

Other suggestions and ideas:

  • Encourage your customers to have a jewellery valuation by post to understand the value in the event they need to sell or pawn items, and to ensure their insurances are appropriate – always use a Registered Valuer; look out for the letters FIRV or MIRV. 
  • Staff displaced by redundancies or cessation of temporary contracts may be interested in work at the Co-op https://jobs.coop.co.uk/food?linkId=84616254 or other supermarkets, who are actively hiring from the retail and hospitality sectors to ensure food remains available in stores. 
  • Whilst your business is quiet, why not spend some time updating and upskilling? Raw Pearls Academy provides informative and accessible training on natural, cultured and fake pearls, cultured pearls and the value of pearls  https://www.rawpearls.com/services/pearl-training/ 
  • Here's an example of jewellers contributing to the community (paywall): https://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/jewellery/jewellers-bit-coronavirus-crisis/

Thanks again for these suggestions – please keep them coming in to marketing@naj.co.uk  

 

Source: The NAJ