How to Help Clients Reopen Their Businesses Post-Pandemicby
As parts of the country start to reopen, many of our clients are anxious to get back to work. Although you can't solve every problem they'll face, there's plenty you can do to help them make a strong comeback.
Many of your clients thinking about reopening are not just anxious in the “I’m ready to reopen my business” sense, but also in the “I don’t know what to expect when I reopen” sense.
Although we can’t solve every problem they might face, there is plenty we can do to help our clients make a strong comeback. Here are five tips that can help you help your clients navigate this next phase of our “new normal.”
Tip #1: Help Them See the Whole Picture
Very few businesses will return to pre-lockdown levels of revenue, at least not right away. Pent-up demand might boost sales for a few weeks, but continued social distancing requirements and customers’ reduced income will mean lower revenue for many businesses for some time to come.
Although it makes sense for your clients to be concerned about decreased revenue, it’s important not to let them dwell on their top line for too long. When you help your clients see their whole picture – not just declining revenues, but also the declining expenses that naturally accompany them – it removes some of the fear about how their business is going to survive.
Take some time to do an in-depth analysis of your clients’ expenses with them, and point out those that can be eliminated – or already have been – due to changing business conditions. Then, do some income targeting with them to help them see what their top line needs to be in order to remain in business. This simple activity will help your clients get more clarity and see the whole money picture.
Tip #2: Analyze What They Have Already Done
If your client was able to keep their business functioning in some capacity during the lockdown, they were likely able to do so by being creative in their offering or the delivery of it. Take some time now to analyze what they’ve been doing for the past couple of months and see if it makes sense for them to continue leveraging their short-term creative solution. In some cases, you and your client might find that it doesn’t make sense for their business to return to the status quo, and the client’s business might be healthier in the long run as a result.
Tip #3: Help Them Navigate a Workforce Facing Unique Challenges
In many parts of the country, the summer camps and activities many working parents rely on have been canceled. This causes a hardship not only for our clients’ employees, but it also creates a challenge – and an opportunity – for our clients.
If you aren’t familiar with the tax laws as they apply to your clients, enlist the help of tax professionals to brainstorm ways your clients can get their employees back to work while navigating tricky childcare situations. Can your clients provide some sort of benefit to their employees to help with childcare? If not, what can your clients do to help facilitate alternate working arrangements, possibly with a tax benefit to the business?
In the worst-case scenarios, it might be necessary for clients to permanently replace employees who can’t come back to work. Help your clients turn this into an opportunity to level up their workforce and restructure their team in a way that helps their businesses become more profitable.
Tip #4: Set Up a Cash Management System
Once sales start picking up again, your clients might be inclined to go on a spending spree, or at least return to spending as usual. Although there’s nothing wrong with your clients investing in the things their business needs, it’s important to help them keep their spending in check so they don’t end up in a bad cash position in the months ahead.
An effective cash management system is important during business peaks and critical during business downturns. Especially now that many of our clients have received PPP loans or EIDL funds, we need to help them make sure they are using the proceeds responsibly. Work with your clients to set up a cash management system that lets them cover their expenses AND sock away some cash for a future rainy day.
Tip #5: Facilitate a Support Group
I know…you’re not a therapist. But you don’t have to be to have a huge impact for your clients by facilitating a support group for them.
If you have clients in the same geographic location or in similar industries, consider introducing them to each other in a (virtual) group setting. Depending on your clients, it might take some time for them to open up to each other about what they are doing to help their businesses get back on track. But, once they do, they will be able to leverage each other’s knowledge and experiences to help them all succeed in our new economic environments.
In many ways, this reopening period could be as stressful for your clients as initially launching their businesses was. As their accountant or bookkeeper, you are uniquely positioned to help your clients make reopening successful and profitable. This not only ensures your clients’ business survival, but it also ensures your firm or practice will remain viable as well.
Billie Anne Grigg will be speaking at AccountingWEB Live Summit this May. She has been a bookkeeper since before the turn of the century (this one, despite what her children think). She is a QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor, LivePlan Expert Advisor, and a Mastery Level Certified...