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LETS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.

Question :
On the 1st of March we had a thriving business, we were excited for the future, and we were meeting with clients from the UK to sign a contract to transport Prada and Americas cup sponsors this coming summer.We were looking forward to celebrating the end of another year living our dream and we were setting our financial goals for the year to come. In the space of 7 days 100% of our ongoing business  cancelled, and we were immediately struggling to comprehend a reality that no one’s business plan includes contingencies for. We have toiled for three years, 24hrs a day, seven days a week to build a business that supported a team of 14 contractor drivers, one office staff member, and my husband and myself.  Our team stepped up and looked afternoon New Zealanders and visitors to our country alike in the most humane and selfless way imaginable as the events unfolded. They have put all concern regarding their own future aside to transport people in need to and from the airport, wharves and their homes. In a unimaginably stressful time they stepped up to care for people and get the job done. Our people have now lost their livelihoods. And we were powerless to stop it. Over the course of 7 days we watched our creation die. By Thursday afternoon the email came I had been dreading, the last client we had left, one of the city banks was suspending their service. We were officially left without a means of income, no jobs for our team and no idea what our future looked like anymore. It’s so difficult to explain how this felt. Humiliating. Terrifying. Isolating. It took a few days before we realized what we were experiencing was grief. Even now as I write this that heavily weight makes itself felt again on my chest.  I wonder once this has passed, will be look in the rear-view mirror and realize the measures taken with the intention to protect and preserve lives has actually resulted in the loss of lives due to a serious impact on mental health and well-being.   As small business owners we are resourceful, persistent, self-reliant and strong. We have to be, going into business you risk it all, you put everything on the line to create something, to contribute and build a future for yourself.We’re fighters, and we are not ready to give up. Every day we are hustling to deal with our new reality. We want to survive this, we want to come out the other end and still be contributing to the New Zealand economy, for many years to come. We want have a place for our team to come back to. We understand now that we are collateral damage, one small business in New Zealand does not matter, and as the situation continued to escalate and every other industry and business in this country begins to be impacted our voice which has been struggling to be heard will be completely drowned out by the overwhelming need.Help.

Question submitted 16/04/20 @ 03:18pm
Industry: Tourism
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    Alpha, so so sorry to learn of the heartbreak of your business. And, the absolute right attitude to fight and not to give up. Can you tell us a bit more about the core capabilities and assets of the business? What type of transport were you providing? Do you own the physical assets? Do the services appeal to a domestic market? If we know a bit more, we can certainly offer some support.

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    Hi Leslie,

    Thanks for making contact. Our business, Alpha Shuttles is a passenger transport business. We have a market that is currently approx 70% airport work, the rest made up of private charters for inbound tourists, wharf transfers for the cruise industry and corporate events transport. Over the summer season we do some wedding work.

    There is a proportion of the airport work that is domestic. And we have grown the domestic corporate transport market (team events, away days, conferences) over the last 12 months.

    We own the fleet, consisting of 12 Mercedes vehicles, six and eleven seats. We’ve spent the last three years investing back into the business to position ourselves for APEC and the America’s Cup, catering to a high end tourist market and corporate events.

    The business has been one of high volume with low margins, to ‘keep the wheels rolling’ while we set it up to take on the private charter, corporate market, which would allow us a higher margin.

    We have a large mortgage on the business which we have managed to hold off payments for the immediate term, we’ve stripped every cost we can, and budgeted and budgeted again, and can handle 2 months of no work at all…..by month three we have to be doing something – otherwise we’re lost.

    Any insights would be greatly appreciated. How do we maintain hope when we have no control over our situation?

    Jess

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    Jess, Thank you so much for sharing your situation. It certainly is a challenging time. While at times it must feel like there is no path through, you don’t strike me as the type to give up. Well done on reducing costs and getting mortgage relief in the short term.

    Is it possible to reduce the fleet size to reduce the mortgage payments? In terms of passenger transport, this is going to take time. But, deliveries is something that will continue to increase as we all get used to online ordering. Can you contract to a delivery company or lease out your vehicles to be used in this way to others? Or, can you become a delivery company? Headfirst Travel, based in Dunedin, has pivoted their business to a new personal shopping service hiring tourism drivers to deliver goods, called ToMyDoor. They are looking to expand all over the country, and are deemed an essential service. Maybe you can link up with them, or do something similar?

    And, in relation to your core transport business and the amazing relationships you have developed with Apec, America’s Cup, and the Corporate Market, make sure you keep in touch and maintain those relationships. While Apec and America’s Cup may be delayed, the events should happen and you want to be right there to resume your contracts.

    Hope this is a bit of alternative perspective. Think it’s amazing what you are doing.

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