Coronavirus pandemic and the impact on business
Today I am looking at our plans right now and how they will need to change. All the plans I had will need to change; spending patterns, buying needs and customer behaviour will all change and we all need a plan.
This 10 point plan is for us all to use and should help us navigate the tough times ahead. It is clear there is a bell curve through which the virus will go and therefore your business. The fear factor will definitely kick in when it comes to doing business and I hope to tackle the main issues here today.
- Communication: When a crisis happens people become negative and fearful. It is therefore essential to build relationships with all your stakeholders at this difficult time. It will pay real dividends.
Your Team – You need to communicate with your team on a daily basis. Tell them what you are doing.
Your Customers – Use technology, what are you doing immediately to navigate this crisis.
Your Networks, Suppliers and Stakeholders – Communicate through all of your social media, what are you doing because of this crisis.
Community – Press Releases are really important at this time. Get a message out to the market place and let people know what is going on.
- Positive Thinking and Positive Approach: In any time of crisis and change you should be looking for the opportunities that arise. Where are the chances for your business to do better and create more success at this time and add value to your business?
You need to be the most positive member of your team and lead from the front – how do you win through this economic impact, stay focused on the positives and think about what you can do and not on what can’t be done.
- Know economic cycles: Usually, there is a 7 – 10-year cycle. We have been in the boom, Brexit and Trump were settling down and then suddenly crisis. After a boom, there is always a downturn and you need to understand the impact that the virus will have on the global economy and your business within that. Already some countries are coming out the other side and your business will also go through this cycle too. You will come through this but remember your business focus, be prepared to act and think differently, and don’t give up.
- Understand Change: You can’t wait for these economic crises to happen, you need to get ahead and take action now. Have a 90-day plan and do not think that this will blow over before then. If however you have used this time to become a leaner, faster and smarter business and it blows over before 90 days then you have still made positive changes that will have a longer-lasting impact on your business. The only constant in life is change. Look at your products, services, pricing, delivery and staffing. Use this time to do some serious analysis and strategic thinking.
- Cut back: This is going to be a time of real economic challenge for your business. Cash will be king and you’ll need to stop spending on certain things. Don’t stop spending on areas that will help you grow, like sales and marketing. But can you reduce your outgoings, renegotiate your fees and not do that upgrade you were planning?
- Extend your credit: Get it now while they are still lending. Get credit cards and extensions on the credit. It gives you the opportunity to extend the survival of your business. It might be that you don’t need it in 6 months’ time but at least you have it there now. Try and re-negotiate your rates and refinance if you can.
- Staffing cuts and changes: This might be the hardest decision you need to make. If you can not lay people off it is much better for moral. You could have your staff do less hours and you could consider letting people take holidays. You might need to do pay cuts and suspend any bonus programme you might have.
- Plan to work from home: This is going to be the reality now for many of you. The Government is encouraging us to do this and the technology is there to help you. What technology do you need to enable your staff to work from home? How will you do meetings and how will you get reports through. What processes and systems will you have in place? Do you have a customer service issue and simple things like collecting mail from the office? You need to be thinking all this through now.
- Online and Deliveries: Can you deliver your product or service virtually or physically? If you are in a restaurant how can you get deliveries into your customer’s homes? If customers aren’t coming to you how are you going to keep everything moving and get to them? Do you need to train staff? Key here is communication with customers and understanding what you can deliver.
- Marketing and Selling: I can’t stress enough that in times of economic crisis you should not stop your marketing. You must keep it going but your marketing is going to have to change. You can’t just think that your old marketing is going to work in this crisis situation as people are thinking about different things and are worried and fearful. Remember to be positive in all your communications. Create new offers and rates and know your numbers in terms of leads and conversions. In this market can you get cash upfront?
In conclusion: At this time it is vital that you keep and look after your existing customer base. Keep working with your customer base. Communicate with them and make sure you are reaching out all the time through deals and offers. Make sure your existing customers feel valued. You need to over-deliver on customer service right now and it will set you apart. Use the above points to help you make a plan now.