15 July, 2020 / IN Business Advisory / by Chad Stead & Kurt Purkiss
In a time of crisis, clear, concise & proactive communication creates calm. This was the message we reinforced to our team when the number of COVID-19 cases kept rising throughout March 2020 and the situation intensified.
On Monday 16 March, we sat down together as a leadership group and enacted our continuity plan on how our business, our employees and our clients would get through the uncharted road that was to lie ahead. We are big believers that if you have a plan, you will have a competitive advantage over most businesses.
The following provides an insight into to the areas we focused on during our planning for COVID-19 prior to the arrival of the pandemic:
Be Visible & Communicate
- Clients want to know you are still there for them during a crisis. Proactively communicating there is a continuity plan in place which will allow you to continue operating as usual will not only help with alleviating your clients stress but also assist in reducing your own businesses disruption.
- People seek support at times of crisis, usually from a trusted partner. Consider sending out short communication pieces to clients early on to show you are aware of the issues and you will provide further support and guidance as information comes to hand. Remember, the content must be relevant and timely.
- Be proactive in your communications, provide solutions not the problem. Clients count on you even more than usual during a crisis or pandemic. Do not make them search for their own information and answers, instead bring it to them. Proactively communicating with clients not only alleviates their need for information but will free up staff to focus on the tasks which matter most.
Benefits of Delegation
Clients are expecting answers at short notice during times of crisis. Delegation allows other team members to be across client matters, it provides clients with another point of contact. The result of delegation is the staff become empowered and the bottle neck that can occur is alleviated as secondary contacts and relationships are formed. The key top delegation is in the balance of how much contact to retain.
Impact on your Bottom Line
Keeping your business alive was/is the priority. How do you know if your able to survive a crisis if you have not prepared a budget and forecast? What about if the crisis lasts for 6 weeks, 6 months or longer? Understanding your cashflows is a critical part of continuity planning and extends to scenario planning -” what if”? But it does not stop at your own business, it extends beyond this, you should be in regular contact with your customers, your suppliers and your financiers.
This was a big adjustment for all. Even though like most businesses we had technology which allowed staff to work partially at home from time to time, when Covid struck, the shift to moving from home 100% was significant. What we found was our teams stood up in a time crisis and worked around the clock. They had to juggle home schooling, their families and looking after our clients. Interacting with the team regularly using video conferencing was a critical component to ensure that a social connection remained in place and the mental health of the team was an important consideration. As the weeks dragged on, most of the team were very eager to return to the office and re-engage with their peers.
IT Systems Review
You need to ensure your systems are secure. This rings true regardless of the circumstances but when your team becomes remote overnight & video conferencing is the new norm, having an IT plan is critical. Forming a trusted working relationship with your IT provider is key to achieving the right outcomes. When staff work from home, having top shelf anti-virus software is critical, together with multi factor authentication, portable devices & adequate equipment for video conferencing.
Knowing Your Customers
Knowing your customers enables you to provide tailored solutions. there are endless reasons why you need to understand your target audience and customers, but during a crisis, it becomes extremely important. Profiling your audience allows you to get inside their head and their business. It provides insight into their pain points & what is important to them. As an advisor, once you know this, you can provide specific advice addressing the direct problem.
What did we do well?
- Provision of timely and relevant electronic content for our clients and business associates
- Ensuring every business client was assessed for job keeper
- Supporting clients every step of the way through the various government stimulus packages
- Providing clear and concise directions to our team, everyone knew how we were going to get through this
What did we learn?
- Remote working works! Trust your team, empower them to step up & they can thrive
- Video conferencing with great tools such as Zoom works, embrace it
- Embrace technology, bring staff along for the journey, involve them in the discussion
What would we change?
- Previous attitudes towards cashflow and operating budgets need to be revisited, planning for operational & process related challenges that may arise as a result of potential future shutdowns should all be high on the agenda of things to tackle
- Improve our technology suite such as laptops and multiple screens for home offices
Downturns can be scary in the moment, usually because there is no plan in place for your business and the world around you appear to be panicking. If you are clear, calm, and have a plan, you will have a competitive advantage over most businesses.
Lambourne Partners is an integrated advisory practice offering a full range of services to our clients. We thrive on helping owners better understand their businesses and their personal wealth through the numbers.
Contact our business advisory team to find out how we can help your business.