6 Crucial steps for Businesses to take during the Coronavirus Pandemic
In times like this it’s more important than ever that companies strengthen plans and work to future proof their business. In collaboration with the NDM Hub here are some tangible steps your business can take during the Coronavirus crisis.
I don’t think that anyone was truly prepared for how COVID-19 would impact our lives, from panic buying to people self-isolating. It is more important than ever that companies bolster their plans and work to future proof their business. Our business experts have put together the following 6 step plan to help you ride out this unprecedented storm.
Step 1 – Plan & Prepare
It is hugely important that companies look at the ‘whole picture’, step back and evaluate where the business is currently and how this crisis could impact you, this includes finance and future plans.
What planning have you done to cope with staff shortages? The NHS are prepping for around a 20% absenteeism rate – which for most businesses is like coping with the summer holiday season. Cutting down travel, reducing numbers at work all go towards creating this separation barrier the health officials are talking about.
Ensure you plan now for school closures, how your company negotiates this depends on the industry that you are in. What key roles are there that only one, or a few can do? What would happen if a key member of staff were absent?
Companies are of course concerned about how their employees will cope. We are all aware of employees who take the day off when they have a sniffle and those that come to work regardless of how bad they feel. These extremes are difficult to cope with as they don’t want people taking advantage, likewise they don’t want people coming to work ill due to fear they will not be paid and be on SSP – £94.25 per week! Be clear about what you will do pay wise if people self-isolate.
Restructuring and putting plans like this in place can of course unnerve staff who are worried about financial impact. In the back of their minds will of course be worst case scenarios, with questions being asked from home adding to the feeling of worry. Have a strategy, cost it and let employees know what the contingency plan looks like and how it affects them. Preface it with “if the worst happens this is our plan”.
Be resolute but be optimistic, let your team know that you are taking this seriously but you are planning so the worst case scenario doesn’t happen.
Step 2 – Assess Suppliers, Service Providers & Customers
Ensure you take time to review your whole supply chain from start to finish. You might be able to get raw materials and produce product, but then your logistics company may be unable to deliver it. Questions such as ‘is my bank set up to cope with staff shortages?’ need to be considered. Again, communication is key and taking the time needed to contact suppliers, service providers and customers really is important. Be pro-active and reach out to your customers, as well as letting them know that you are still here, showing what procedures you have in place demonstrates strength in uncertain times.
Step 3 – Have a ‘work from home’ plan in place
Conduct a review to see which areas of the business can be moved to working remotely from home. There is software on the market which will help you to facilitate this. NDM are not only experts in this area but as Microsoft Silver Partners we have the ability to configure and manage the full range of 365 products that Microsoft offers. This includes shared document storage, business e-mail, video conference calling and a ‘chat’ facility so you can continue to communicate effectively from home. Please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can help ensure this time of transition is as smooth as possible for your organisation.
The next issue to consider is that working from home may mean people are in isolation for long periods of time. Mental Health issues will kick in, especially for those where work offers them the only human interaction they get. Where you don’t live alone, being locked up with someone for a long period may also become fractious. Most people like order and some formal routine. Employers can help all of this by making sure that they step up their level of communications – make sure online meetings are scheduled at 9.00am so that people have to get up. Do as many as possible via a video platform so that people have to shower and dress. Be more hands on with targets for work so that people don’t drift off into holiday mode.
Step 4 – Diversify
If there is ever a time to look at other ways your business can earn money, now is it! Of course, taking crazy financial risks may not be the best idea but there are other ways your business can look to increase their revenue.
Look at your business – what do you have to offer? Are there any products at the moment that you can promote that you haven’t?
Are you on social media? Now more than ever with people at home they are going to be spending an increased time on their phones and on social media. You need to be visible. Get a strategy in place, communicate with the outside world, let them know that you are here.
Do not pull back your efforts at a time like this, increase them and if you can’t or are unsure of which direction to take your business, social media or overall marketing, find someone that can. NDM and our team of business strategists, marketeers and industry experts are here to help.
Step 5 – Evaluate your cash flow
Cash is king in most businesses and very few companies will be able to sustain an extended period of low activity. We just need to look at what happened with the Financial Crisis of 2008.
Some businesses will already have credit insurance to cover the problem of non-payment by their customers. If you don’t it may now be more difficult to obtain. Ensure you take the time to conduct a detailed cash plan to get you through the next six months in which you can model various scenarios. If you don’t have in-house staff to do this this look to get help.
Areas that you can look into are:
1. Cash already in the bank and due from customers.
2. Additional borrowings from banks – will depend on the value of any assets to underpin the loan.
3. Shareholders and Directors injecting more cash.
4. Claiming back R&D Tax Credits and Capital Allowances (Please contact NDM Hub for more information).
5. Applying for grants (Please contact NDM Hub for more information).
6. Delaying payments to HMRC by agreement – speak to them before they speak to you!
7. Agreeing extended payment terms with funders – Hire Purchase, Mortgages etc.
8. Agreeing extended payment terms on Invoice Discounting Facilities to ensure good debt stays funded longer.
9. Cutting overheads to reduce outgoings.
10. Laying off staff.
This all sounds daunting but not putting a cash plan in place at a time like this could have catastrophic consequences for a business.
Step 6 – Do not avoid the issue!
The overriding message is to create a contingency plan. Deal with these areas now and increase communication. Hiding from the problem and hoping it goes away will almost certainly ensure you fail. Facing issues head on constantly telling everyone what you are doing will allay fears and help you ride the storm.
NDM Hub, NDM Creative and our team of experts are here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us through LinkedIn, online or call on 01952 287346/ 0333 006 4477.