Tips from the experts
During the current public health crisis, businesses both large and small will likely experience disruptions and challenges. We want to help our members through these tough times, and ensure that architects get the right support.
In this video, Melissa Healy, Director at leading business advisors and accountants DFK Everalls, has some practical tips for architecture firms on how to protect your practice, look after your team and protect your cash flow during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a growing impact on global and Australian businesses. Business owners, therefore, need to make sure they are well prepared so their business can survive until all this settles down.
You need to be open for business as usual – but differently.
So, what do you need to do to protect your business going forward?
There are three areas you need to focus on:
- Protecting your team
- Protecting your cashflow
- Protecting your business.
Let’s look at these in a bit more detail:
1. Protecting your team – because they are your biggest asset.
- Talk to your team every day – about how the business is going and find out how they are going. This keeps them informed and therefore reduces stress and boosts morale. This is critical if they are working remotely.
- Reduce the risk of transmission by improving office hygiene, having meetings where people are spread out, using Work from Home strategies & using Zoom meetings.
- Get everyone to update their contact details. Set up a WhatsApp chat group.
- Make sure you comply with any government regulatory requirements regarding COVID-19 like travel and self-isolation/quarantine restrictions as well as the usual O&HS rules (especially if your team is working from home); and the normal Fair Work Australia requirements (eg if you need your team to go on leave).
2. Protecting your cash flow – because cash is king.
- Protect your top line revenue by letting clients know you are open for business – Business as usual, but different. So, watch your pipeline of work closely and check in with your debtors to make sure they are going to pay you on time.
- Minimise capital and discretionary expenditure and organise supplier payment plans.
- Manage your team:
- Can they work from home? Is it safe & secure?
- Do they need to take voluntary leave or compulsory leave? Do they need to take unpaid leave eg 4 days weeks? Work out who is critical to operations and/or see if they can share the pain so all can survive.
- Take advantage of Government Stimulus Packages including the ability to defer tax payments but make sure you lodge your BASs and returns on time even if you can’t pay.
- Update/prepare your cash flow forecast for the next six months and perform good/bad/ugly analysis – where are the pain points? What can you do to fix?
- Talk to the bank ASAP about extra funding or reducing loan repayments to minimum or interest-only (or even put on hold)
- Check your Business Interruption Insurance policies – can you claim anything?
3. Protect your business so you can ride this out.
- Talk to your CLIENTS – Let them know you are open for business but let them know what has changed eg office hours, zoom meetings, job completion dates etc.
- Talk to your suppliers – Most obvious is your IT Provider and talk to them about cybersecurity issues.
- Adapt operations – what do you have to keep doing versus what can be suspended? What do you have to do differently?
- Work out if your team can work remotely
- Test NOW (before you find out the hard way). Do they have the equipment (eg dual screens), safe space (OH&S issues) and internet bandwidth to work from home effectively?
- If still working in the office – make sure team members take home their laptops each night just in case they can’t make it back to the office in the morning.
- Manage capacity and productivity – Give your team clear productivity goals to keep them on track. If there isn’t any client work they can do from home – what else can they do? There is always something productive to do.
- Training – catch up on CPD via reading, research and online webinars;
- Marketing – can they help write blogs, newsletters or new website content?
- Product/Service development – can they work out ways to improve the quality, variety or efficiency of how you do business?
- Document processes – This is the perfect opportunity to update your checklists, templates, job descriptions, induction manuals operation manuals etc.
Architects should be well placed to survive this crisis by talking to your team and using technology to stay being able to do business as usual, but differently. If you need any help or just need a sounding board then talk to your accountant or local DFK Australia New Zealand Accountant.