“CBILS funding took away the worry, I could focus on new business and how I was going to rebuild relationships with clients.”
LRA Services work closely with organisations to make sure buildings are safe and healthy places for people to work in. They provide independent legionella risk assessments, water treatment, fire protection project management and for some clients bespoke health and safety training.
When the Covid-19 pandemic forced many of LRA’s clients to close their doors even to maintenance works, AskIf was able to help LRA with a CBILS loan of £40,000 to sustain the business. With a much lower turnover and some existing short term finance causing issues, CBILS funding stabilised the business through the initial months of national lockdown.
Two months later, work has almost resumed to pre-Covid levels. LRA is even working with some new clients.
Joanna Hill, Commercial Director, AskIf, commented: “In the current climate there is a lot of fear around what the future holds for British businesses. We come across stories like this everyday, where businesses just need a helping hand to get them through. There should be more confidence in what the SMEs in the country are capable of and more lenders willing to stand behind them in their time of need.
“Antony provides a brilliant service and has a huge amount of professionalism, adaptability and belief in what he does, CBILS has helped him over this bump in the road but it’s clear to me LRA has a great future.”
LRA Services provide vital and legally-required services, working closely with organisations to make sure buildings are safe and healthy places for people to work in. Headed up by MD Antony Paskin, LRA provide independent legionella risk assessments, water treatment/compliance, fire protection project management and for some clients, health and safety training.
Antony prides his company on the bespoke nature of its services, commenting: “Every contract is different and we create a service to suit your particular needs.”
“We will do risk assessments, training on awareness. We will do the monitoring and the maintenance. Remedial works. Anything that we can’t do ourselves we will use contractors. It all depends on what individual companies require.”
When the Covid-19 pandemic forced many of LRA’s clients to close their doors even to maintenance works, the business experienced a downturn in turnover. Antony commented: “Some clients just completely fell away. I used to do a lot of work with some independent nurseries but the need for childcare stopped immediately. Schools were closed for a long time but they still needed to do some of things I would usually help with. But with less pupils and staff they had availability to do a lot of things themselves to really save on costs. Some clients stayed on my books but they were at panic stations, it just wasn’t the time to do any maintenance or health and safety works.”
LRA’s reason for needing funding was two-fold. Struggles with clients were being compacted by some short term finance options which were put in place pre-Covid. Antony explained: “I’d had some short term finance. Had Covid-19 not happened this would have been paid off by now, done and dusted but that was causing me a bit of strain when Covid hit because of the amount I was repaying per month. It was a bad financial decision which was tied to my property.”
It was at this point when Antony contacted AskIf who were able to set up the business with a £40,000 CBILS loan. “The only way was to get a loan. Clear pre existing finance commitments, give me some funds to get me through initial months while I was waiting for pre-covid money to come in and business to build back up again. It prevented me from going into the red, massively.”
Commenting on what might have happened to his business without help from the CBILS scheme Antony said: “In hindsight, I probably would still be trading but I would have been sailing very close to the wind. It would have put a lot of strain on the finances.
“The CBILS funding took away the worry, I could focus on new business and how I was going to rebuild relationships with clients. I had the peace of mind that I didn’t need to keep shifting money around to try and pay every bill.
“It would be nice if my bank balance was a bit more helpful but everything is paid up to date, I deferred some VAT and took advantage of that deal, but other than that I’m happy. There’s money in the bank now, there’s invoices out. There’s a bit of a way to go but I’m confident that we’ll get there.”
Since receiving the funding and with lockdown restrictions easing, Antony has been able to get his business back on track: “I’ve noticed now, certainly in the last 2 months, work has pretty much gone back to pre-Covid levels but it’s not all the same clients. I’ve brought in some new clients.
“There’s a lot of change but from a legal perspective all of these companies I work with still have to engage in the services which we support so apart from a bit of a glitch when lockdown first started when everyone cancelled we’re running again.”
Commenting on the state of his industry, Antony said: “Some of our clients are looking at downsizing their properties. They’re looking and thinking: ‘half of these people can work from home successfully’ and it’s definitely a cost-saving exercise. I’ve experienced quite a lot of that. Property management companies are looking at reduced rents so they’re all looking at trying to keep costs down. So they are reviewing water rationalisation schemes which we might be affected by. It’ll create work for us in the short term but might change the way we work substantially.
“The hospitality industry is another story – I’ve recently done a job with a client with 35 hotels and only 2 of them have reopened – others are still closed”
With his advice for other struggling businesses in the UK, Antony added: “If you know what you do is good and you’re confident in it. Continue to believe that. And if that means you need to increase your debt to make it happen then do it.
“It’s better to owe a financier money than a small business or an individual, I know I’ve got to pay off the debt, but I know I’m dealing with it and I’m in control of it. It’s much better to have this than finance scattered around everywhere.”
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