Coronavirus: Focusing on local advertising, marketing and making goals

How to cope with the coronavirus financial crisis and emerge from it even stronger.

Bank Hapoalim (photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
Bank Hapoalim
(photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
 Ronit Leon
We Brought Our Vision to Life and Opened a Store for Directly Imported Products
“My husband Rafi, brother-in-law Avi and I set up our family business 20 years ago. To begin with, we specialized mostly in importing cleaning and paper products for institutions, clinics, factories, restaurants, hotels etc. In 2012 we expanded significantly after one of our suppliers collapsed and we purchased their production line, which included canned food for animals, brushes, mops, stands for bathrooms, disposable plates and cutlery and more. We import a lot of products from Turkey, but we also work with suppliers from the UK, Germany, Belgium, Italy and the Far East. When the pandemic started, there were 16 people working with us—drivers, warehouse workers, salespeople and office staff. During the first lockdown we furloughed them, but we have since restored most of them to work, because we are recognized as a vital business.
“In the middle of the first lockdown we had a stressful period after we were forced to leave our previous location in Moshav Ginaton because of the new law that forbids businesses from operating out of Moshavim. Luckily, we found a 1,200 square meter warehouse in our home city of Yehud and fixed it up beautifully. We always had a vision of opening an import store that would allow private customers to purchase products at lower prices directly from the importer to the consumer, and the move to Yehud allowed us to make that vision come true. The store also has wonderful gifts and packages for workers, pharmaceutical and beauty products, equipment and decorations for birthdays and more besides. Because most of the big customers and the institutional ones are still closed or have not yet returned to full activity, the store is helping us to increase our cash flow.
“It was not easy to move from a warehouse in a Moshav to an industrial area in a city, when you are required to pay five times more for rent, not to mention municipal property tax. On the other hand, the residents of Yehud are really coming through for us, and we have been able to build up a very loyal and friendly customer base. Anyone who comes here and sees our products and our low prices understands that there is an element of social justice being put into practice here.”
The writer is the co-owner of Leon’s Import LTD. 11 Avraham Giron St, Yehud. 
Tel: 053-5112238. 
Tzahi Levi
I Would Bring Customers Their Eyewear to their Doors
“I’m an optician, optometrist and orthotist by training, and I opened my opticians in Ganei Tikva in 2000. I do eyesight tests, fit glasses for people and specialize in contact lenses for young people, with multi-focal lenses too, and most of my customers are from the towns and villages in the Ono Valley area and central Israel. Before COVID-19 struck, there were three workers here, but when the first lockdown started I kept one of them and furloughed the others. As the store is considered a vital business under the healthcare exemption, we stayed open throughout the entire period.
“During the first lockdown there was not much to do, because people were afraid to leave their homes. So I sat in the store and answered telephone calls from the morning until lunchtime, then I closed up and went home. After the first lockdown the situation improved slightly, but then the second lockdown came about during the Tishrei holidays and the traffic to the store stopped. The third lockdown that we have just recently emerged from was the toughest of all, because Ganei Tikva was categorized as a “red” town based on Israel’s “traffic light” system. A situation was created where customers would order glasses but were unable to leave their homes, or were afraid of coming to collect them because they were afraid of coming into contact with other people. So at the end of each day I would get on my motorbike and run a delivery route for people at home.
“When I look at our balance today, I see a drop of 50% compared to the same period pre-COVID. Part of that is due to the fact that I work with a number of government institutions, which were also paralyzed. There were also cases where I chose not to make sales, because it was important for me to adhere to the rules and restrictions—inviting customers into the store one by one and checking them as thoroughly as possible. 
I hope that as soon as the winter eases, work will begin to come back, because the peak times for my business are spring and summer—April to October.”
The writer is the owner of Tzamarot Optical, 78 HaGalil St, Ganei Tikva. 
Tel: 052-3644884
Nir Shafir
Preparing a Post-Lockdown Plan
A stitch in time saves nine. The third lockdown has been lifted, and here we are returning to regular business activity. 
On the one hand, we are aiming to increase our sales to attempt to recuperate some of the lost earnings and the time lost to lockdowns over the past year, but on the other hand we do not want to reduce our profit. 
That is why I recommend stopping for a moment before the race begins and building a structured work plan.  
This plan should include various objectives and tools to increase sales, such as advertising and special offers for customers, developing a system to supervise direct expenses and setting a desired gross profit for the business in the current climate. 
In addition, carry out a weekly assessment to regularly check whether you are meeting the gross profit targets set out in the work plan.
The writer is a business and management consultant
Sigalit Michael

Defining and Reaching New Target Audiences
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted many sectors of the economy, including the commercial sector, and business owners found themselves in a situation of total uncertainty, with most of them forced to occasionally close their businesses and furlough staff. Even those who were defined as vital businesses had to adapt themselves to the changing regulations and the situation. In order to overcome this challenging period, many business owners worked to reduce costs and streamline their business, while on the other hand reinventing themselves with the help of creative, blue-sky thinking. They were able to adapt to changes, increase their sales and reach new and different target audiences. For example, pivoting to private customers and increasing market share – from wholesale alone to retail, advertising and local marketing with an emphasis on the residents of the area and providing solutions through home deliveries. At the same time, business activity must go hand in hand with financial management. That means continuing to manage the cash flow effectively in a way that will help you to react efficiently and make it through this period safely.
The writer is the manager of the business banking department at the Yehud branch of Bank Hapoalim