Your business through Covid-19:
Reflect on current successes to plan future processes
The coronavirus pandemic caused many of us to make overnight changes to the way we run our businesses. As news breaks that we’re heading into the next stage of managing the crisis, we’re now looking towards moving our businesses to the ‘new normal’. Though we’re yet to fully understand how that will look, reflection on the last few months of change, and how the changes have worked for your business, helps you plan your new processes and manage their implementation.
Which key areas do you need to reflect on? How can you understand them so you can thrive in the coming months? There are five key things to consider:
Working: remote methods for effective teamwork
The way your team work together has completed shifted. Are your team in the office and socially distanced? Or, have your workforce all been working remotely? The latter has become incredibly common and, like many organisations it’s likely you needed to make the shift to remote working quickly. Naturally, with that comes many challenges, such as monitoring performance, maintaining communication, and understanding the needs of parents balancing childcare.
Remote working is something you may have been considering. Or, it might be an entirely new way of working that you’ve never felt could be successfully implemented. Resources may have included pooled support, with admin worked through a central inbox that outlines clear priorities, or switching from a call centre to a web chat function. As you look back at the last few months, are you surprised at how effective remote working has been? Have your team operated differently that before Covid? Think about whether this is better practice that can work long-term.
Flexibility: revising approaches for ongoing successes
Take a look at your sales over the past few months. How has your business changed? Have you evolved to meet a new, or ongoing need (in retail, services, or an entirely new sector)? Or are you expecting a significant peak of activity as we take steps to return to more normality?
Offerings and interactions are likely have dramatically changed. Reflect on what’s been a success, and what, perhaps, has not. Has the way you communicate with customers altered? Has there been greater flexibility in work patterns (to accommodate childcare, for example)? How have you continued to engage people across departments? If these changes have been successful, now’s the time to get new processes in place for a new way of working. Embedding these strategies now will result in long-term success, no matter what new regulations await and how long they last.
Customers: changing communication and increasing understanding
Think about how you have adjusted your communication with your customers. Are these ways sustainable? A reduction in phone calls to replace with web chats and other ‘self-service’ approaches may be one answer. Yet is it right for your customers long-term? For example, a recent workshop carried out for a client identified less then 10% of phone calls from customers turned into real orders. The business, who had grown substantially, had never had the opportunity to really understand either the numbers or the client journey.
Now is your chance to understand customer patterns and make changes that work. Whether you’ve continued to engage with customers in quieter times, or had to stop all promotions due to furlough, think about how your market has altered in the last few weeks. Recognising any buying behaviour changes shows how many people have begun to put different values on the products and services they buy, impacting how your business engages with its customers.
Team: virtual interaction for long-term engagement?
How have you kept your team members in contact? With some working in offices, others remotely, or some even furloughed, maintaining a sense of belonging is key: at times of uncertainty, security and togetherness is more important than ever. How have you done this and ensured you’re still valued as a business and team. Has it worked?
Video conferencing is ideal to reflect on, as it’s become exceptionally common. On one hand, it’s a fantastic tool for interaction, group meetings and collective decision making. On another, you may find it has extended call times, perhaps due to keenness for social interaction or a lack of adjustment to SMART meetings. Reflect on your own experiences: can you change your communication method to virtual calls for the better? Or, in fact, is sitting round a table together more productive? If the latter is true, have a think about what that looks like in your new working environment. What processes can you put in place to engage everyone together safely?
Finances: accessing cashflow for monetary management
You may be burying your head in the sand about your finances. After all, there’s a great deal of uncertainty remaining around productivity levels, furlough schemes and ongoing changes. Yet it has never been more important to understand your current cashflow.
Use this opportunity to look at not only monies out but also inbound. Business may have been booming, or your customers might have amended their payment terms (without asking), looking for deferrals that could continue to impact your cashflow for months to come. It is always better to take mitigating actions, such as loans or similar agreements, early on, as it demonstrates to lenders that you have a handle on your business.
The current crisis has many parallels to the 2008/09 recession, so I speak with both previous experience and knowledge of the current situation. During and after the recession, practices needed to adjust but books still needed to balance. To continue in business and grow, it’s crucial to reflect on the changes you’ve made these past few months to identify achievements, challenges, and the processes you need to implement for ongoing success.
For support to get your processes in place, contact Sarah: firstname.lastname@example.org.