Most of you who are reading this did not have an action plan for responsiveness to a global pandemic. The risk of this occurring was unlikely, remote or improbable. But COVID-19 has swept across the globe and most business strategic plans for 2020 have been thrown out the window. But, as the calendar readies to turn the page, many states are implementing limited ‘back to business’ regimens and the next month should provide a slow beginning on the pathway to a ‘new normal’ for society and businesses. Your most important responsibilities as a leader of your company are to evaluate your organization and how it must change going forward, determine how to adjust your strategic plan, change your focus from a five year plan to a six month plan and clarify what recovery is for your business.
In order to evaluate your organization and how it must change going forward, a key consideration is to ascertain how large changes in personal behavior will affect demand for and purchases of your products and services. More employees will be working from their homes. There may be less demand for office space. There will be fewer employees in the same square footage of office space. There will be less driving, fewer cars on the road, fewer business meetings and less entertaining. Attendance at large gatherings such as concerts, sporting events and theme parks may not return for months or until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. Travel on airplanes, trains, subways and cruise ships will be sharply reduced for the foreseeable future. These and other societal changes will affect your business, either directly or indirectly. You must consider how your organization will adjust to this new reality.
A major focus will be on re-evaluating your company’s strategic plan. Even the best companies will need to take that five-year plan and put it to the side temporarily and home in on the next six months. What are steps that can be taken to make the rest of 2020 the best possible for revenue and profits? When you do this, make sure that you look both ways. First, look inside-out from your company and what you do for your customers and determine what you can do better to serve them. Second, look outside-in from your customers as they see you. Many will be reducing their expenditures, so your goal is to maximize the chances that they will still purchase from you. You will need to do all you can do to enhance this likelihood.
Just a few months ago, you may have been focused on how to grow revenues, add new product lines or services and spend efficiently to grow profits. Now you must shift gears and ask yourself, ‘What is “recovery” for my business?’ In order to do this there are the societal changes to consider. In addition to those mentioned previously, there will be some technologies that advance more rapidly. Overall movement amongst people will most likely stay at a reduced level for years. Business models and meetings that have shifted online will continue at a higher rate than before COVID-19. These changes in personal behavior and associated shifts in public policy are here to stay.
So how to you do what is best for your company moving forward? Remember that you are not on an island. Assemble the best and brightest members of your team and use their ideas. Make a list of your trusted advisors such as bankers, lawyers, wealth managers, insurance representatives and industry leaders and utilize their experience and opinions. Search out webinars on business recovery after COVID-19 and glean the best ideas. For most of us, business recovery from COVID-19 will be a pathway that includes stumbles and wayward turns. But just as we plan during good times, we must now adjust and plan our best, even better than our best, during these times.
Nperspective has assisted many clients in improving their business results through implementing or helping with their strategic planning process. Gary Cohen has served in corporate financial management roles for over thirty years and for three multi-location companies with up to five dozen locations with a focus on strategic planning, improving operational efficiencies and maximizing financial outcomes.