The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused millions of businesses — from family-owned restaurants and niche manufacturers to oil companies and global airlines. As the country is slowly opening, old ways of doing things clearly won’t work for most corporate operations.
But there is a silver lining: Major economic disturbances may provide opportunities for business owners who can discard the status quo and “think outside the box.”
Over the short run, businesses that “pivot” promptly was able to stay afloat till things conclusively turn around for the better. There also may be continuous opportunities that add value and revise your existing financial planning.
Old Concept, New Twist
Swivelling isn’t a new concept. Some of the most known and profitable businesses in the country changed paths midstream before becoming successful.
A classic example is Starbucks. The company didn’t start as a franchiser of coffee shops. Initially, it sold coffee shops, bulk coffee beans, and other items before shifting to its current coffee houses model. Now it looks like Starbucks has a shop at every corner of the country— and a loyal following of coffee enthusiasts.
What makes the existing situation different is the sense of necessity and vagueness. With some states in numerous phases of slowly reopening, local companies may have to adapt their operations and modify to the “new normal.”
What’s more, smart business people are seizing on pandemic-inspired chances for creating goodwill.
Swiveling needs an evolution period, especially if you’re shifting to a new product line or service. It’s not as calm as snapping your fingers and broadcasting a change of plans.
Here are eight real-world suggestions to smooth out those rough edges.
Let your buyers know that you are still there to attend to them and that safety is your primary concern. Explain the extra safety measures you’re taking. The use of face masks by staff, contactless payment systems, and cleaning practices ensures that doing business is a safe experience.
Also, flaunt new products and facilities — such as free delivery or contactless pickup — on your website. If people don’t know what you’re selling, they won’t be ordering. Expand the influence of your social media handles.
MODIFY YOUR BUSINESS HOURS
Whether you’re a basic necessity business that’s been open throughout the lockdown or you plan to reopen soon, shorter business hours may be needed. You’ll need more time to cleaning+, and you might need to balance back nonpeak hours to control labor costs. Many organizations are also planning to have a particular senior-only shopping time, say, between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Post pandemic in your business hours at the brick-and-mortar location and on your website and social media.
You need to meet the new demands and needs of the buyer. Be creative about helping customers stay at home. Can you offer to pick up or deliver?
If a car dealership can drive the vehicle to a customer’s residence, can you do the same for your products? Or can you use video calls to walk a client through the steps of a purchase?
If people can’t buy your goods or services right now, you may be able to inspire them to purchase later.
For example, if you own a brick-and-mortar outlet that’s had to close its doors, you might offer gift cards for future purchases at reduced rates. When restrictions in your zone have been raised, customers can cash in. In the meantime, you’ve advanced the current cash flow.
UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE
Now maybe a good time for a complete overhaul of your website. Test your online order system from a customer’s perspective and ponder how it can be updated to smooth over customer’s orders.
At least, revive your site and make it more aesthetically pleasing. Incorporate all the up-to-date information, discard out-of-date or inaccurate information, and fix any broken links.
When you can, hire an expert to handle the changes. Also, if you don’t by now have an app, now might be a decent time to create one to allow buyers to order from your organization using their smartphones.
LEARN A NEW SKILL
Faced with need, business owners, along with their employees, may explore the areas they previously hadn’t touched.
For example, if you aren’t skillful in social media, navigate new social media handles. Or you could become adept at arranging pickups through software. Or maybe you can do some managerial work that had previously been delegated to others.
PROTECT YOUR EMPLOYEES
Remember that safety measurements should cover both customers and employees. Let your team know about the measures you’re taking to keep them safe and within SOPs in the workplace. In crisis times, business owners and their managers should practice before preaching because employees look to their heads to set the example.
Employees also appreciate honesty. So, notify them as soon as possible if layoffs are coming, benefits are being delayed, or bonuses won’t be rewarded for the year.
When the financial conditions start turning around, companies will likely continue to face the long-term talent absences they’ve suffered in recent years. These demanding times brings forth an opportunity to build long-standing loyalty among your workers.
MONITOR YOUR STRATEGY REGULARLY
Don’t rely on gut feeling or quarterly financial statements to inspect your company’s performance. Well-timed, accurate financial reporting is critical during unstable market conditions. Consider making daily or weekly “flash” reports emphasizing what’s working and what’s not — and then take remedial measures.
For instance, you may need to regulate your pricing, staffing, or operation hours to improve profitability.
What metrics should be included in your company’s flash report?
Keep an eye on the revenue, payroll costs, and sources/uses of cash. Your CPA can help verify what other metrics would be most useful in your situation.
For example, a restaurant’s flash report might break down the revenue generated into subsections. They can categorize the payment by days of the week and compare them to the previous week and the overall budget. Other important metrics for a restaurant might include average order size, food costs, gross margin, and spoilage.
The pandemic may have disrupted your previous plans for the business, but it indeed has made it harder to plan for the future.
But planning for the future of a business is a constant process that is worth the effort. We suggest you to check regularly. Setting aside time to set goals, track progress, and review the competitive landscape for changes and innovations that could affect plans.
You would want to remove yourself from the day-to-day of the business sometimes to think about where you want to go. As bad as times during the pandemic was for so many people, and how quickly it came, one needs to act right now to save it. It is also a good idea to look ahead and prepare for the next possible crises. Embracing that level of preparation and the faults in our financial planning can actually help us make better money-related decisions in the future.
Time spent planning becomes an asset of the business; spend it wisely.
Did this article help in clearing your head in the messed-up financial conditions? Let us know in the comments below.