With a number of major construction projects planned around the Perth area and the regions, knowing how to deal with the potential disruption that can be caused by construction work is important to minimising its impact on your business.
If construction work is due to take place near your business, planning ahead will help you take advantage of the improvements the project may bring and/or help minimise the impact on your business.
Here are our tips on how to deal with disruptions to your business.
1. Get involved early
Major construction projects are generally planned several years in advance, so it’s important to keep an eye on any communication from the government agency, utility or your local council so you are aware of the project and what is being proposed.
The earlier you can make contact with the project owner with your concerns or suggestions, the more likely you are to be able to influence change. Attending any planning meetings to find out more about the works or to share your views is also a useful step to take.
2. Ideas for your local business community
Consider joining forces with other local businesses to work together to keep customers coming back. You can do this via a range of tactics such as:
- Planning a series of business-generating promotional events in your neighbourhood. Pool your ideas and resources to do something really special and creative – people love being the first to try something new (and will share their experiences on social media).
- Agree on a shared tagline (eg. ‘Beach Street misses you – come back and visit us soon!’).
- Place professionally created signs in prominent areas around the site and in nearby locations. Check if you need local government approval to keep this signage in place throughout the project. You may also find that previous stringent restrictions have been relaxed during this period of disruption.
- Create images of the tagline to post on websites and social media.
- Look at options to get other community organisations involved, such as schools and sporting groups, to encourage local support for your business.
3. How to handle the impact on your business
It is reasonable to expect that your revenue may drop during the construction phase of a major project near your premises. However, there are a number of practical steps you can take to reduce the impact of the works on your business.
You could reduce expenses by:
- planning staff leave over the construction phase
- reducing hours for casual staff
- contacting your financial institution to see if debt and lines of credit can be restructured
- reducing your inventory
- changing your business hours to work around the construction.
Explore ways to attract new customers:
- by diversifying your products or services
- if customers are finding it hard to reach you, try going to them. For example, providing home deliveries or promoting telephone/online business.
Find ways to keep your existing customers happy:
- Share what’s going to happen with your customers and keep talking to them – don’t assume they know or have remembered what’s planned.
- Don’t complain to customers about the disruption – they might be supportive of the project and decide to take their business elsewhere. Customers might also be put off coming to the area if they are hearing only negative messages about construction restricting access.
- Build a customer database, so you can keep them up-to-date with anything you are doing differently during the construction (such as changing trading hours), and let them know about new initiatives.
- Consider ways you could reduce the construction noise or mess. For example, you could put felt under tables to absorb sound or install better seals around doors and windows to keep out dirt.
Make it easy for people to find you:
- If regular access is going to be difficult, plan a different path for customers to reach your door.
- Consider changes to parking, public transport stops, as well as foot traffic and their likely impact.
- Contact your regular customers and suppliers, so everyone will know how to find you.
- Explore other locations for collection points or delivery services.
- Provide information on how to access your business across digital channels and through a script for staff.
- Discuss the construction schedule with the agency/council in charge of the works. For example, if your busiest time is from 7am to 8am, could the construction work start at 8.30am to avoid your peak trading time? Are there likely to be any disruptions to power and water supplies at key times that could be rescheduled?
- Find out whether the project will result in permanent changes to access to the area. If yes, consider whether you need to change your marketing materials (eg. directions to find your business).
4. Handling unexpected issues
When it comes to any major works project, expect the unexpected!
Weather conditions, equipment obstructing walkways and entrances, project delays and seasonal events can all cause problems for you and your business. If a particular issue arises, focus your energy on solving the problem and finding ways to avoid it in the future so that it won’t have as much impact on your business.
If you haven’t already been contacted, get in touch with the government agency or local council in charge of the project to ask for a single point of contact so you can get to know the team. While it may be a stressful time for you, remember that they also have a job to do. The quicker they can complete the project, the sooner you’ll be back to business as usual.
Need more help?
If you need help planning for a disruption to your business, either before or during a construction project, download our free comprehensive guide Preparing for local construction works and contact our free small business advisory service. Our experienced business advisers can provide you with support across a wide range of issues, including:
- new ways to promote your business
- making operational changes
- financial management
- negotiating with landlords
- managing disputes