Learn to deploy your limited and stretched capacity to focus on what really matters—in a logical and practical manner.
Bad times are a fact of life. While we can do everything in our power to control our own circumstances, there’s no way of knowing what’s just around the corner. When situations change, all we can do is react—and it’s how we react that determines how well we sail through stormy seas.
There is a chance here to turn something painful and scary into a time to create more value, and offer more value-add services to the clients who need it.
Where do we start?
Start with your strategy and direction. Like us, you might have already devised a strategy for the year, full of company goals that might now be irrelevant. The world has changed so much in the last month that we all need to recalibrate. Beginning this recalibration is simple, but not easy: figure out what really needs to happen, and make it happen.
Here’s what you can do:
- Get a (virtual) room, get a pen, sit down with your team, and get all ideas down on paper now. Pool your brain power. This is critical—allow your team to share their ideas and be part of the solution. Get them invested in seeing the company ship sail safely into harbour.
- Lean on your managers for their team leadership, and through them, make sure everyone is supported. Now is the time to maximise efficiency and processes, and find ways to keep productivity and motivation high while working from home.
- Make sure that your clients are at the heart of your strategy model. Now more than ever, we need to be going above and beyond. Act quickly for clients who need to be made a priority, and set goals for all clients that will see them through this period: the short-term shock, the medium-term transition to the new normal, and the long-term successful exit.
- Ask clients what they need. Show them that you’re adaptable. Maintain focus on what matters. Continue to train, communicate, and educate. Lock in your new “business as usual”, and strategy and direction will fall into place.
Good communication will be one of your biggest assets going forward. Avril Hillind from Laurenson Chartered Accountants, explains this effectively: “You can’t beat a personal conversation. Bulk emails are great to get a message out but your client is going to feel most supported and likely to work with you to the best end result if you pick up the phone and have a chat with them. It is very difficult to convey empathy in an email, it is best done with the human voice. Relationships count.”
Now is the time to work on relationships, not just externally, but internally
- Here at Spotlight Reporting, CEO Richard Francis starts every day with a video check in, to boost motivation. We use Slack calls to stay in touch with team members, we’ve doubled our Zoom meetings, and we make sure every member of our company is supported, both within and outside our business. This is something you can do not only with your teams, but with your clients. We’re in a better position now than we were during the GFC because of the tools at our disposal.
- We’re all online, and communicating in networks—Xero and Quickbooks both have communities, there are podcasts available like From the Trenches, and our own Advisory Advantage. If your clients are not online, pick up the phone.
Lastly, your service mix and priorities should change. What might once have been nice to have is now crucial. The need for cash flow certainty is now urgent. Modelling, forecasts, banking options, debt optimisation—it should all be happening. If your team needs to upskill, now is the time to do it. Ensure great execution of value-add services, and ship fantastic product and advice now.