Danielle and Jacqueline from I Love Fabrics

Danielle and Jacqueline from I Love Fabrics.

06-05-2020Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

Continuing with our local business support, how are others finding the current working conditions, and can they see positives as well as the challenges? I spoke to some business owners and sought some advice as well.

Jeanette Brown, Jacqueline de Rio
I Love Fabrics
971 681 740

We were closed from March 15 until last Monday. During the lockdown we obviously couldn’t go to people’s houses to fit blinds and curtains which we would normally do. But instead our seamstresses volunteered to make some masks at their homes using swatches of fabric that we had to hand. We didn’t make the masks to sell, but we did ask for a donation to the Red Cross if the individual could afford it. Our clients were very generous. We decided to give the money to the Red Cross because they support Associacion Mallorca Sense Fam which is a food kitchen and service for people who are going without food. We thought that was the best thing to do as we thought that local people would be suffering and we wanted to give back to our community. Now what we plan to do as we are able to be open again is we are giving each of our clients a mask with their order. The immediate problem we were facing was getting fabric stock, but our Spanish suppliers all seem to be managing, now we have to wait to see how our international suppliers are doing. It has been very encouraging to see how we are still getting messages from our clients, old and new, looking for things for their homes. We have quite a lot of clients who don’t live here and it is very frustrating for them to not be able to come to the island, but they are being very supportive of us and also we hope we are doing the same for them! We are feeling positive, we have work to do, and more to come!

What can the general public do to support local businesses?

Please don’t shop online, it is so easy to just get anything online now through Amazon and the big businesses which deliver. Don’t be frightened to call and ask your local businesses about what they can offer. Stay close to home, and think about how you can shop from the businesses around you.

Donna Marie Suarez
Calvia Properties
971 097 875

Even during the lockdown we have been working. I have been working from home. We have had some viewings on empty properties, we went wearing face masks, with shoe sanitiser, antibacterial gel and gloves. Unfortunately that is only for individual properties, we have some people waiting to view apartments in apartment blocks, but we can’t show them yet because of the communal areas. The only way to get around that has been if it is a complete emergency, i.e. the person has nowhere to live, their rental contract has come to an end and they have no choice but to move. But there have been a lot of grey areas even where they are allowed to look for properties. During the lockdown we have introduced an online signing system so we can email clients directly and they can sign their contract and this is something we will definitely continue to do. Something else I would love to see is the continuation of the new procedures around signing at the notaries, it has been lovely! Going to a notary can be quite frustrating because it can take a long time and you have a lot of waiting around, but in this case, the quarantine meant that all the paperwork was sent to the parties prior to the appointment. So when you actually got to the notary, (you had to take your own pen, wear gloves and a mask), one by one all the parties went into the office to sign. It was so pleasant, fast, efficient and stress free!

Coming out of the lockdown I think we will see the price of rental properties go down perhaps by as much as 15%. A lot of seasonal workers have left their rental properties and returned to their homes in the UK, Germany etc. which means there are more rental properties available.Property sales will also be affected and we will have a lot of investor buyers snooping around.

What can the general public do to support local businesses?

It is really important that everyone looks locally to their area. There are enough of us spread out over the island, if you can look within your community area for either your estate agent or your loaf of bread, that evenly disperses the workload and economy more fairly. When we had the crisis in 2008 it was “every man for themselves” but now there is a greater feeling of community. Even the banks seem to be more considerate. I think people have more compassion for each other, it is beautiful to see people being kinder to each other. It has taught us all that the pace of life doesn’t have to be what it was. We need to take a breathing space, we will still be a success, just a happier success!

Eva Burns
EM Properties & Services
671 65 34 06

During the lockdown we had to reduce our team and rescheduled various things. Yes, we have had to work through because we do property maintenance and management, but we mostly work on our own, or the gardeners would normally be working in pairs. We have various organic plots which we were producing fruit and veg for our guests in the holiday homes we manage. Our clients, who are mostly non-resident and have a second home here were very appreciative that we sent them regular videos and photos of their properties, and I know it has kept their spirits up as well. I’ve used the time to change the web host and server on my website, and I have introduced some new things as well. Our head gardener has been working on a scheme for the last few years to offer 100% organic Majorcan compost. We collect from the agricultural warehouses in Sa Pobla, and the local restaurants, use manure from our horses and another local stables.So we have been busy developing this idea. We sell it by the bag, but our best seller is the trailer delivery. Just before lockdown we did a course, to be able to offer processionary caterpillar eradication so we have been working on developing that service as well. Coming out of the lockdown, currently for this season for the moment, the cleaning team will be a skeleton crew, we’d love to be able to be back to our regular numbers, but we will have to see. We hope to keep growing the compost side even more now as everyone has time for gardens and finca, we want to re-nourish the soil.

What can the general public do to support local businesses?

The islanders have to reduce the amount of dependence they have on Amazon and large chain stores. Go to the local market or local producer, buy fresh, stop using people who don’t work legally or don’t pay tax here just to save a few euros. Stop relying on someone else to make the change, when personal efforts, little and often creates more momentum. Remember we live on a beautiful island, enjoy it and make use of all local production from vegetables to furniture, pull together and work through this.

Hannah Russell
www.viveco.co

Along with running my business which supplies sustainable and local products in Majorca, I have also been homeschooling my six year old son, Noah. He has been amazing, but we have had ups and downs. If you had asked me two weeks ago how it was going then I would have given you a very different answer, but being able to get outside again has really helped him. When we were in complete lockdown it was easier, I felt quite calm and told myself, yes this feels good, I don’t want to go back to feeling stressed and hurried, but now that the rules about the lockdown are constantly evolving I am getting that manic feeling back. We have a physical shop in Alaro which has been closed since the beginning, but you can also shop online. We sell sustainable and alternative cleaning and hygiene products including things like local handmade soap. I’m really happy that I have the online option and I have had the chance to spend more time working on getting it right, it is now in three languages, and I have started to pick up some more Spanish clients. An interesting thing about the lockdown is that as people have run out of products they would normally buy in the supermarket but wanted to explore using an alternative for, well they now have the chance, the opportunity to do that, so I have had some clients making the switch and choosing to buy from Viveco rather than a big supermarket chain. Coming out of the lockdown, I am not sure how I can do it, with my son and the shop. The shop can be open if we maintain all the physical distancing and hygiene rules, but with the schools closed he has to be with me, but he can’t be out of the house! It is tricky.

What can the general public do to support local businesses?

Check and see if your local businesses are online. A lot are now. You can make your order online and choose to “Click and Collect” so you won’t pay the delivery charge and you are supporting a local business.

Nick Rees
SMEs Business Consultant
+44 74447 41569

What can local businesses do to help themselves?

In Spain, it’s very different to countries that don’t rely on tourism as much as business in Spain do, but there are a few steps that I think SMEs should be considering:

1. Cost control - negotiating commercial rents isn’t an option, it’s a necessity and using the huge drop in market prices will help negotiations. Don’t be afraid to demand what you need to help your business stay open. Remember, it could take months or even years for your landlord to replace you. Once you know the base level of your costs, you will know what income or gross profit you will need in order to break even.
2. Client or customer contact - don’t let your clients forget you, because your competitors will be doing everything they can to steal your business from you. Be empathetic and see what you can do for your clients now, to help them to help you. Show your clients that you’re trying to create a win-win situation. Maybe they can’t help you now, but you need them to only want to work with you once business returns to some sort of normality.
3. Be aggressive - I don’t mean physically aggressive, of course, but most business is simply a ‘numbers game’ so the more clients you try to sell your services to, the more chance of having enough clients to see you through these testing times. Sell, sell, sell....and even diversify if you can.
4. Think outside the box - do things differently and maybe use social media to show this off. Keep your eye on your core business ethics, but look at different ways of attracting new clients, or even creating a new revenue stream.
5. Always remember to give your existing or potential clients a reason to choose your services or product NOW! Don’t always send nice branding messages, be direct and give them an offer that they might not be able to refuse.
6. Finally, if your business was failing before, you were probably doing something wrong so consider either looking at doing something different, or bringing in a business partner whose skills compliment yours. I’ve seen many failing businesses thrive once the right partner takes over a specific part of the business that you simply might not enjoy, or be good at. It’s better to have 50% of something rather than 100% of nothing.

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