Coping with the Covid-19 restrictions for a young business
Pipe&Cable is a young but growing business run by Jon Worsfold and Ben Webster. At the beginning of this year we launched their new website and were working with them on a search engine optimisation campaign. The future was bright and it was an exciting time for Jon and Ben who had a strong vision of where they wanted to take their business.
Who could have predicted what was to come. This is how Jon and his team have been dealing with the crisis.
It’s still early days for Pipe&Cable, established in late 2016 and quickly growing. We are a strong independent company, with 10 employees servicing the plumbing, heating and electrical industry throughout Cambridgeshire.
Like many small businesses, we had no idea that something so restrictive to our way of life was on the horizon which would change nearly every aspect of the country and world, and stop most businesses in their tracks.
It was easy to bury our heads in the sand leading up to lockdown, not realising the extent of what was to come, thinking media scaremongering was to blame for hysteria, and the notion of a lockdown was simply unbelievable.
Jon Worsfold - Managing Director
However, it was soon to become a reality, with Boris Johnson’s announcement of locking down the country and restricting trading for a huge proportion of businesses up and down the country.
On the Tuesday following the government’s regular 5 o’clock briefing, a sort of disbelief followed by a sense of urgency to act followed. At Pipe&Cable we made the decision to stop all scheduled works immediately until we were in a position to understand our responsibilities.
We were aware support would be put in place for workers and businesses, but at this stage realised we had a lot of research to do to navigate the new and incomplete information that was developing every day. Along with this came rumours and hearsay of schemes and support that were to come. It’s amazing how news travels so quickly.
As directors, Ben and I had long discussions of what action to take and we decided that it had to be a period of waiting and therefore pausing all works scheduled in. It was important to protect ourselves and our staff, so we furloughed all staff for the next 6 to 10 weeks and only undertook emergency call out work cautiously. We also did some minor works within controlled environments such as an empty house we were lucky enough to be renovating.
During this period, we watched every daily announcement and kept staff informed of changes and developments. Our clients were in the same boat and understanding across the board was mutual.
Getting back to work
We soon realised that to get back to work we would have to change the way of approaching our works completely.
Main contractors such as builders had closed, partly through choice, partly due to the shortage of materials available across the board. This meant previous pressures of meeting time targets of certain contracts had relieved, which was a welcome weight to be lifted.
Following the Government’s announcement to steadily re-start the construction industry providing safety guidance can be met, we knew we had to make changes.
PPE was near impossible to get during the peak of the UK pandemic, meaning we were unable to follow guidance. Gradually it started to appear in suppliers ‘back to work’ kits, giving us the opportunity to create a safe system of work for ourselves and staff.
We planned different ways of getting our business operational again. As we are consumer facing, generally working in homes, businesses and sites, it is crucial that we are as careful as we can be.
Gradually works have started to resume and our staff are being brought back on board and trained in the new safe system of work to in order to protect all parties. The safety measures we are taking is reassuring to our clients who are also coming to terms with the changes ahead.
Main contractors are beginning to re-open sites and adapt to government guidelines. Life is beginning to re-start, albeit in a strange way.
The government did, in my opinion, act quickly to put support and advice in place during a fast paced and unknown pandemic, and businesses with rateable premises have benefitted from this help. However, many smaller businesses like Pipe&Cable have fallen through the cracks leaving us with no option than taking out large loans to weather the storm. This is going to be an uphill battle to repay but we are confident in our business and will continue to push on through the unknown future.
Pipe&Cable offer a wide range of electrical, heating and renewable services.
For more information visit their website https://pipeandcable.co.uk/.