We need to keep the economy moving, and businesses need to make plans for coming out of lock down right now. Don’t know where to start? Here is a framework, based on the proven Mustard methodology, for putting those plans together.
1. Leadership and Vision
Even with the end of formal lockdown, restrictions on movement and social distancing are likely to continue for some time. Your business will need to adapt the way it works, and to challenge some long-held assumptions. There will be a lot of anxiety among your stakeholders – investors, customers, suppliers, and your team, and you will need to show resilience and strong leadership.
There are signs that society has become more thoughtful and purpose-driven. Does your company vision sit comfortably with how you and your stakeholders feel right now?
It is even more important to have a vision for your business that will inspire your team right now. If you don’t have one, it’s time to get writing. If you do have one, make sure that it still inspires and motivates people to follow your leadership.
2. Customer Service
The companies that continue to provide excellent service are the ones that will stand out and be more resilient in volatile markets.
How will the changes in the market impact on demand for your products and services? Can you adapt to different modes of delivery, can you develop or distribute complementary products and services? Is your current offer still appropriate?
Communication with your customers is absolutely crucial. You need to understand their plans, how you can support them, and how their plans will impact on your business.
Which customers are open for business? Are they operating changed hours? Have they changed their good inwards arrangements?
3. People Management
There are some excellent resources out there to help you understand how to bring your team back from furlough, and guidelines for safe working. This advice will continue to develop over time, and by the time this article is published, no doubt, there will be more information, and more comprehensive advice.
Essentially, there are three aspects to this:
- When is the right time to start bringing people back into the office?
- How can we keep our employees and the people that come into contact with us safe?
- How can we keep the team engaged?
For the time being, it seems that if people can continue to work from home effectively, they should do so. If your business has been shut down for the last six weeks, now is the time to think about what activities could be done remotely as you restart your business.
3.1 Working Arrangements
For furloughed employees, you will need to consider a phased return to work as business starts to pick up, and as your facilities allow. What skills are you going to need, and in what order?
You may need to consider flexible working arrangements as people who are at home may still have to juggle the needs of their families around the working day. If you have vulnerable employees, or employees who have to stay at home to shield someone they live with, they will need to work from home for longer – if their “normal” job doesn’t lend itself to working from home, perhaps they could pick up other work that would.
3.2 Keep People Safe
There are really helpful resources from the Government on how to keep people safe when they are at work. At the very least, you need to review your Risk Assessments in the light of the pandemic, and don’t forget to carry out a mental health risk assessment – some of your workforce may become more anxious, some may be struggling with isolation. There’s a detailed guide to do this on our website.
3.3 Keep the Team Engaged
Keeping your team engaged is vital. You will need to communicate clearly your plans for recovery. You will need to make sure that those still working from home are as well informed about the current situation as those who are in the office, and provide them with a means for social interaction to avoid a “them and us” situation. Don’t forget to treat them as individuals too – they may have issues that they would rather not raise in a team get-together. There is more advice on our website here.
You are likely to have people working remotely from home for some time. Make sure that you computer infrastructure, telecommunications and cyber-security measures are as good as they can be.
Check your insurance arrangements – are they appropriate for the new ways of working?
Keep close to your supply chain – how have your suppliers been affected? Are your raw materials readily available? What impact will this have on your capacity and lead times?
Are your normal distribution channels all operating as normal? Do you have the logistics capacity you will need?
Review your arrangements for goods inwards and despatch – how will you make sure that your employees and visitors are safe?
Revise your operational budgets, and maintain a detailed cash flow forecast. Cash is the life blood of your organisation, and you need to review your cash flow forecast at least weekly. If you haven’t already done so, take a look at our article “How to Hold Onto Your Cash” for tips on how to manage your cash flow.
How much working capital do you need to be able to pay your suppliers and your employees? What additional funding do you need? Investigate the Government’s “Bounce back” loans to see how this could help.
It might be tempting to reduce your marketing spend, or you may think that it is in poor taste to carry on promoting your business when there are so many people suffering right now.
Remember that your marketing efforts are how you communicate with your stakeholders – your investors, your customers, prospects, suppliers, employees, as well as potential employees. Whilst straightforward advertising might be in poor taste, you should still provide value for your stake-holders. They all need to know that you are serious about building your business for the long term.
You may need to review your sales process and find innovative ways of working. Whilst your business is starting to bring people back to work, your customers may not.
Make sure that your sales team have the resources that they need. If they are working remotely, do they have access to all of the customer data that they need? Make sure that if they are using video-conferencing they know how to present the company professionally – this means know how to use the software, having the right equipment for clear communication, and conducting discussions in the right environment – having a toddler photo-bombing a video networking meeting might be cute, but your customers deserve 100% of your attention.
For many businesses, the phones have definitely gone quiet. This is the ideal time to review your vision for the company, identify opportunities that will be available when restrictions are lifted, and position your business to advantage of those opportunities.
If you would like help to take stock, to look at how to reduce your costs or build your business for the future, Mustard Advisers can help. We can take an objective view of your business, challenge your assumptions, and broaden your horizons. We will agree an action plan with you, and hold you to account, so that you will have more time, more money, and more fun.
Contact Us Today
For further information, get in touch with Mustard via email by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 02921 111 262 and ask for an adviser to call you back.