Drawing Positives From A Tough Situation

By Martin Matthews, Martin Matthews
Joint Head of Audit and Assurance
30 April 2020

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention and COVID-19 requires business to think differently. Looking at this situation through a glass half-full lens, is COVID-19 providing us with an opportunity to better position our businesses? Some of the ways it could be helping you innovate include:

Consider your distribution channels: Some key questions to ask – what can you do to retain your existing clients? What can you do to attract new clients now and into the future?

We’ve seen restaurants and cafes offering take-away for the first time. What can other businesses and industries learn from this? For example, what’s stopping gyms or personal trainers delivering online fitness classes? Or offering to rent or sell kettle bells to their clients for use home use? This benefits two businesses; the fitness business and the kettle bell manufacturer/seller.

Benefit: An innovative approach to the delivery of products and services can enhance your custom – it will be worth the effort!

Teamwork and encouraging innovative thinking: Business owners don’t have a monopoly on good ideas! Dedicate time each week for your team/adviser to get together (virtually of course) and encourage and brainstorm new ideas. Does COVID-19 give your business the “blank canvas” and the time to remove any existing inefficiencies that would no doubt still be present when normality resumes.

Benefit: You’ll be able to remove inefficiencies but also identify and reward those innovative and engaged employees wanting to help your business through.

New technologies and systems available: Working remotely is challenging the way we interact with our employees and our clients, however, let’s not lose sight that many companies have been working this way for many years. There are a number of tools and systems available to assist. A myriad of technology companies are offering free versions of their services and tools during the outbreak. It saves your team time with no commute and, could save on your leasing needs in the future?

Benefit: Systems and tools introduced now can manage your current teams and positively influence what your workplace in the future looks like.

Review your customers: Perform a proper interrogation of the profitability of your clients and the margins you’re generating. Are you serving those that aren’t adding to the bottom line? You’ll come out of COVID-19 with a clearer understanding of who your key customers are and who you want to be in business with.

Benefit: Understanding who your most profitable clients are.

Is there fat in your Profit & Loss? Can your business function properly without the provision of certain goods and services? Most organisations can reduce at least 5 - 10% of operational expenditure by eliminating non-essential costs. Generate rapport with your suppliers by guaranteeing them custom but asking for discounts/extended trading terms in return. Adopt a ‘minimalist’ attitude to spending in the coming months.

Benefit: Certainty of supply and better supplier terms now and into the future.

Access to assistance: The Federal Government has recently announced measures to help business cope. Most SMEs will have access to this assistance.

Benefit: There is much stimulus and relief available – don’t suffer in silence, make the most of it and if you don’t understand how best to reap the benefits, seek advice!

The pace and severity of COVID-19’s impact has caught all of us by surprise. It presents an amazing opportunity for organisations to challenge the traditional paradigms. Adaption now may help you to come out the other side in stronger shape than pre-COVID-19.