A few years ago I set-up a little Facebook page for something called ACP – Accumulated Credit Payment – I wanted to encourage others to give a lifeline that had been given to me when I needed to start a business, without having a single penny disposable income. I’m raising awareness of it again now – as it may be just what you, and your customers need, to help your business not only survive, but thrive during Covid-19.
It is very simple, and very easy to administer.
I see a lot of posts where people are offering either discounts, or vouchers, in the hope that this will help to generate some income in difficult times, and whilst that holds great intention, it does not solve the issue of uncertainty about timescales or finances. Many people will naturally be vary wary about spending £40-£100 on a voucher, when they may be worried about how long their finances have to stretch. Equally, offering discounts still requires an outlay, and devalues your product or service.
That is where ACP comes in - it is something that I desperately needed when I formed the company 7 years ago. I needed a professional corporate photo, so that I could confidently communicate as 'a business woman', and have a press ready pic etc, but the £150 charge for this was unmanageable. In the early days of business I was very quiet about my own personal finances as I did not want to raise concern over my products or services, but I had not long suffered house repossession and my credit file was in tatters, I was working part-time as a newly single mum and £30 or £40 was all I could stretch to food and household each week, and so the only way I could progress, was to open myself up and ask for help.. and this is what is so crucial about ACP..
ACP is not credit, nor is it discount, it is simply enabling your customers and clients to pay an affordable amount each week. I have always been proud to offer this for the KIH Bed, and with every product or service that I offer, as once you have experienced financial stress, you do not want others to be locked out, essentially in ‘relative’ poverty. I paid that photographer £10 per week, I was very happy in the knowledge that 3 quick months later I could have my pictures and share my biz with the world, and it inspired me to keep going. I needed to commit in this way, and I need the money to leave my bank, if I had put aside £10 per week I would not have spent the money on photos. I would have used £150 on filling the fridge and freezer! I had to force myself to take care of both home, and professional development. I did the same with my massage therapist a couple of years later, I told her that I could not justify spending £30 every six weeks on myself (despite knowing how important it is as a qualified therapist), and so she agreed that I would pay £5 per week by standing order, never in arrears – I paid a manageable weekly amount, and every six weeks I enjoyed a massage without needing to dip into my weekly budget.
As it stands, I think that come September, when the children are in school and we can get back to much needed maintenance, business, in the beauty and holistic industries, will thrive once more, so why not let your customer base know that they can start an account with you now, so that they have credit with you and all they need to do is book in when you are open again? It saves them the embarrassment of worrying about outlay, and you benefit from immediate, and crucially consistent income. It is easy to set-up a standing order, and of course you have options such as regular FB payments now, and if you are a limited company you can let GoCardless do all the admin for you – the customer sets up the DD with them, they pay you, and they let you know if the customer cancels the DD – they take a small fee, but it’s not much, and well worth it for the convenience for you and your customers.
Here’s the FB page with some SO templates – you are in a very powerful position right now, to not only help your own business, but to offer a lifeline to your clients in times of uncertainty. Even your more affluent customers are likely to appreciate and enjoy having consistent credit with their favourite practitioners, so that they can enjoy regular treatments without even thinking about the money.
We are all able to help each other. Let your customers help you now, so that you can help them in the future. This can be applied to any business in any industry. Car servicing, MOT’s, restaurants, therapies, DIY, electronics, Legal, Support roles; whatever it is you offer, let people start paying you now, so that they can reap the rewards in 16 or so weeks when the children are in school and they are ready to push forward with business whilst taking good care of themselves.
And of course if you are pregnant, take a look at the KIH Products website – on the find a therapist page you can have a look on the map for a chiropractor, osteopath, spa, hotel, or massage therapist near you, offering treatments using the KIH Bed Pregnancy Cushion – which enables you to lay prone (on your belly) in both your second and third trimester of pregnancy.