The Coronavirus pandemic has already had a fast and hard impact on many businesses, with many more expected to be hit from the resulting trickle down drop in economic activity. To protect your business and your family, make sure you act quickly to minimise the impact and ensure your business can weather the storm by looking at your strategy and taking action.
1 – ASSESS THE IMPACT ON DEMAND
Make an assessment on how this will impact on your customers, including:
– How will their behaviour change amid the lockdowns and self-quarantines.
– How will this impact them economically and will there be a subsequent drop in demand as their incomes drop
– Is there an opportunity for you to help your customers through this time and thereby increase the demand for your products and services
Also, get on the phone to your key customers and make your business an integral part of their plans, either in the downturns or as part of their recovery. Do they need you to adjust how you service them as they get disrupted.
2 – REVIEW YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN
Can you still get access to the products you need to service your customers. If you believe some suppliers may be impacted, explore your alternatives.
At the same time review your buying behaviour and assess whether it is time to reduce or increase the volume of certain items.
3 – LOOK AT STAFF IMPACTS
For a lot of business, their staff are the key to operating profitably. Develop a contingency for when staff are sick or in quarantine. Communicate your policy with staff on working from home, reiterate the sick leave policy. Review your obligations on leaves of absence under the various situations such as when the employee is not sick, but self-isolates; the employee is not sick, but you request that they self-isolate; the workplace is forced to close under a shut-down.
Look at your equipment and the practicalities of working from home and ensure staff have a safe and effective work space set up at home.
As a final measure, look at your staffing levels to cope with the decrease (or increase) in demand. Should you postpone new hires or redeploy staff into different areas.
4 – FORECAST YOUR CASHFLOW
Looking at the changes in demand, supply and staffing – how will this impact on your cashflow. Prepare a 12 month cashflow forecast for the business to ensure you will get through this time and can take advantage of any rebound in demand when it arrives. Look at not just your profit and loss, but also your loan and finance payments and ensure you can keep up with those. If cashflow looks like it will be an issue, take immediate action and look at your alternatives such as cutting costs (including staff), temporarily closing doors or changing operating hours, adjusting your product mix, or if the worst case looks possible – how can you liquidate the business and protect your personal assets such as the family home.
5 – SLASH OVERHEADS
In good times, business expenses get lazy. Many discretionary and non-essential costs become part of your standard operating costs. Some of the key items we see that can creep in or increase over time include: subscriptions (including software); amenities such as the fancy biscuits; office supplies; transport, parking and travel.
Once you cut the non-essential overheads, look at your fixed costs and explore alternatives.
Rent – can you sublet part of the office or negotiate with your landlord if times will be tough
Utilities – Are you on the best deal for your gas and electricity
Telephone/Internet – when did you last review your monthly charges
Insurances – does your business insurance provide the right coverage and the right price.
6 – SPEAK WITH YOUR BANKS AND FINANCE COMPANIES
Most of the banks have already released details of assistance for people and business hit by the coronavirus. Review and take advantage of the concessions available, which can substantially assist with your short-term cashflow:
The Australian Banking Association has released guidance on how the various banks are helping and how to obtain those concessions. https://www.ausbanking.org.au/campaigns/financial-hardship/
In addition, review your current finance arrangements and ensure you are getting the best deal. Are there alternatives you can switch to, so you can save on interest or reduce your repayments.
7 – REVIEW YOUR INSURANCES
Do you have the appropriate cover for your business and does any of your current coverage help in this situation. Does your corporate travel policy have pandemic exclusions or are you able to claim for disruptions to recent or upcoming travel. Many businesses have business interruption coverage, however many of those policies also have a pandemic exclusion attached to them. Speak to your broker about what coverage you have and what claims may be available. Chat with Tim Drake of AB Insurance to discuss your current coverage.
Above all, act fast and decisively. Delays in taking action can make the possibility of recovering from the downturn too difficult to overcome.
And always remember, we are here to help. Get on the phone if you have any queries and we can work through your strategies together.