Coronavirus: 'What can we do to preserve our jobs?' That's the question staff should be asking, Re/Max CEO says

As businesses struggle to survive COVID-19, a real estate expert who sank to the bottom and rose back up again says that recovery is possible and it's about working together.

Property tycoon Don Ha, now CEO of Re/Max New Zealand, told The AM Show on Wednesday that business owners must stay focused - and employees can do their part.

"We're going to war now: you've got to win this war against this pandemic - every day [we've] got to stay focused," Ha said.

Before the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, Ha was worth $60 million, a fortune which he lost within six months.

"When you're young and you think you're invincible, you just keep on buying and buying - the structures were all entangled together.

"Interest rates went from 6 percent to 12 percent in no time and from there, it all just fell down  like a [pack] of cards," Ha explained.

After he was placed into receivership and made bankrupt, Ha has since built his fortune back up. He says that the current situation is similar.

"The whole country's in receivership right now, with the Government controlling our business," Ha said.

He said that business owners should be creating blueprints and talking to their staff - but they share some responsibility too.

"Preserving that job is not about the company paying the staff, it's about the staff [asking] 'what can we do to preserve our jobs?'," Ha said.

He said that staff need to be on board with business challenges and understand if there's anything more they can do for the company.

"We all need our jobs and the company needs you: collectively, we have to work together, contribute ideas and [ask] how we can create [more] revenue to what we get paid and for the company," Ha added.

From a property perspective, landlords who own multiple properties could use the mortgage repayment holiday as a short-term reprieve to avoid panic-selling.

"It will preserve that value so the property market won't crash - we've got time to sell some of those properties down," Ha said.

Adding to his comments on The AM Show, Ha said that owners who have their properties secured against their business should look to sell off what they can't afford to carry.

"To preserve what you've got, go early and go hard," Ha said.

"Selling 20-to-30 percent off is better than getting stressed and selling everything off at the end."

Ha suggested that business owners make a 'top ten' list of priorities to help them through the COVID-19 crisis, with one being the most severe.

"[For example], having to sell assets off, reduce staff, reduce costs," Ha suggested.

He also urges business owners not to put off making hard phone calls to creditors, suppliers or banks.

"Every day you delay, you cost [the business] about three other days - the hardest phone calls need to be made first.

"The more we communicate, the more people understand our situation better," he added.