With the recent announcement by the UK Government that restrictions will be lifted on the 19th July, businesses throughout the UK will, despite their frustrations be counting down the days.
So with Boris Johnson describing this as a "terminus date" suggesting that the roadmap will not face further delays, is your company on its own path to recovery to ensure that it is ready for "business as usual".
David Tilling , CEO here at Advantedge, provides some worthwhile advice on getting businesses in their best shape to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
Revisit your business plan
Much has changed over the last 15 months and your business plan may have been thrown out of the window as you were forced to react to the new found situation that you found yourself in. By adapting ,you have found new customers and new markets or simply used the time to focus all your efforts on emerging out from the other side relatively unscathed. Review your plan now to cement these changes and seize upon new opportunities. It will help you focus your actions.
Get your finances straight
Many businesses took full advantage of the Government backed CBILS & Bounce Back Loans to keep themselves going throughout the pandemic. With these schemes now closed to new applications and soon becoming due for repayment, it could put pressure on cashflow and day to day working capital. Businesses should be mindful to look at the full range of different funding options available to them to ensure sufficient cashflow to meet their funding challenges that lay ahead.
Set realistic but challenging goals
Now's the time to ensure you know where you are in your market and where you intend to be. Take this opportunity to set your business goals so you and your team know what you are trying to achieve. They may be short term of 3 months or less if your business has been significantly impacted by the crisis or they may be considered over a longer period , say 12-36 months if it's managed to hold its own. Above all make your business goals accurate and realistic but challenging at the same time.
Focus on Marketing
Engaging customers is your No 1 priority – making sure they know who and where you are and that your offering is competitive can make all the difference, Ask your customers if your product continues to service their needs and if not, how could you improve. How are your competitors behaving? Is your pricing competitive? Is your website up to date and fresh content added which is customer centric and repeatedly adds value? Are you engaging customers on the correct social media channels. Use your CRM to contact customers and tell them about special offers or new products.
Businesses and consumers have massively increased their adoption of digital technology throughout the pandemic whether it was through the purchasing of goods, communicating with employees, colleagues and customers, or actively promoting their business online. You need to ensure that your business is now keeping pace with this change and that you are connecting with your customers in the way that they want you to and have now become accustomed to. Working patterns, habits and behaviours have significantly changed. Consider whether as a business you can do more to extend your reach. How are your competitors engaging as evidenced on their website activities and how much presence and following do they appear to have across defined social media channels.
Communication is so vital and none more so than over the past year. Whether that is with employees, customers, or suppliers, making sure that your key stakeholders know what you are doing and that you are considering their needs should not be underestimated. Engage with your employees to ensure that they feel comfortable returning to the workplace and make sure that you talk them through any changes in your business or your plans, so they feel part of the journey. Make sure your customers know of any changes and that you are their to support them with their requirements. And don’t forget about suppliers. Making sure you can access goods is critical to your success – make sure you discuss your requirements and any issues that they may have with supply.
Show your business cares
Over the last 15 months and with the vaccine program now well and firmly in place, we have learnt to live with Covid-19. We have throughout this time adopted many measures to make our workplaces safe for employees and customers. People may still be apprehensive upon returning , so show them that you care by maintaining some of these measures and keeping lines of communication open so that you can understand any anxieties and are better equipped to respond.