RECOVERY: Bevan Killick urges businesses to ask for help.
CONFIDENCE: Robyn Eathorne says the move into The Colombo centre has been 'brilliant'.
Nearly a year after February 22 many Christchurch business owners are still battling with post-quake issues like reduced cashflow and loss of premises.
For some, the real crunch will come in 39 days' time, on the anniversary of the magnitude 6.3 quake, when their business interruption insurance runs out.
In Addington, 23 Recover Canterbury business recovery co-ordinators working in cramped offices are trying to help hundreds of local businesses make it through this difficult period.
A wall in the Recover Canterbury office, which they share with the Canterbury Development Corporation, shows donations to the Canterbury Business Recovery Trust totalling just more than $5 million.
The initial target for the trust fund was $20 million, so it is still a way off achieving that, but business recovery co- ordinator Bevan Killick points out the trust has already distributed $3.463 million of the donated funds to 226 businesses, and still has about $2 million in the pot.
The organisation ensures the recipients are viable Canterbury businesses who need help rebuilding after the earthquakes.
The message is simple. If you need help, stick your hand up. The organisation is urging businesses not to wait until their business interruption insurance runs out before asking for help.
Killick is an accountant by profession and has 12 years' experience in the insurance industry. He joined Recover Canterbury as a business recovery co-ordinator last year and he and his 22 colleagues are working with hundreds of businesses in the recovery process.
There is no pattern, no trend. Businesses from all sectors, all sizes, well-known and relatively unknown, they all have distinct quake-related problems.
Since December 23 more than 90 businesses have contacted the organisation for help, the majority of them for the first time, Recover Canterbury communications manager Pip Tschudin says. Most were prompted by the December 23 quakes and the chance to take a breath and think about the future of their business long-term over the holiday period.
For many businesses, the continuing aftershocks are taking a toll. Stress levels are high and fatigue is growing.
Recover Canterbury is seeing a lot of "mom and pop" businesses, and Killick's advice to them is if you need help, ask for it. And keep your lawyer, accountant and insurance broker close.
Many business owners could benefit from some professional advice, or getting an independent director on board, who can help provide perspective and support, he says.
Since February the organisation has contacted more than 6000 local businesses, and the announcement of the Independent Advice for Small Business grant, developed by the Red Cross and Recover Canterbury, sparked a flurry of activity on the Recover Canterbury website and the phones on Thursday, its communications manager Pip Tschudin said.
It is available to any business with fewer than 10 employees that has been hit by the earthquakes and has a genuine need for financial assistance for professional advice. Again, the message is if you need help, ask.The Red Cross Appeal has ringfenced about $3.4 million of the $73m donated to the New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal, to offer contributions of up to $750 to small businesses.
Embrayce Skin and Beauty 'out the other side'
One business that Recover Canterbury business co-ordinator Bevan Killick says has "come out the other side" is Embrayce Skin and Beauty, which Killick now visits about once every three weeks to track its progress.
The salon was on Lichfield St. Staff left the building on February 22 not knowing that they would not be able to re- enter for three months as the premises were within the cordoned-off red zone.
While the building was not too badly damaged, everything around it was.
Managing directors Robyn Eathorne and Tania Behrns found themselves running their beauty salon in the middle of a demolition zone.
Initially keen to resume operating from Lichfield St, they soon realised it was no longer a good location for the business.
"People would come in and stare, cry, it was awful. A lot of our clients were just frightened.
"We did three months, " Eathorne said.
The directors had no insurance cover to pay for relocating the business, because their building had not been damaged.
They contacted Recover Canterbury for help in May last year.
Guidance from Killick and help from business mentor Jim Bishop to formulate a new business plan has paid off, Eathorne said.
Recover Canterbury helped Embrayce obtain funding to help pay for the fit-out of a new salon at The Colombo centre in Sydenham.
Embrayce reopened there in mid-September and is now back on its feet.
"It's been great for us, it's been brilliant.
"Through that time it just made you feel positive, having someone behind you," Eathorne said.
"Coming here was great. And [Recover Canterbury] made us feel confident about coming in here."
Having access to the resources of Recover Canterbury had bolstered the business, she said.
Client levels are "way better" than they were in Lichfield St, prompting the business to hire a new part-time employee.