As we're hitting week three of the nationwide lockdown, it's a really good time to assess where you're at with your business, and start to look at how you could operate at the different alert levels. We covered managing your cash flow during COVID-19 here, hopefully you've put in place some steps to come out the "other side" as unscathed as possible.
Shifting to alert level 3
If the Government deemed the COVID-19 lockdown successful, the current alert level could be dropped to 3. The decision on this will happen on April 20 at this stage, which potentially means businesses will have two days to implement arrangements. The guidelines on level 3 are still being developed by the Government, expect more information next week.
Now is the ideal time to consider what a level 3 scenario might look like for your business, and be as prepared as possible so you can hit the ground running. There are still a lot of unknowns, so try and work through some hypothetical situations.
Following the Government-mandated restrictions will need to be a top priority for you and your business. If you're able to operate within these restrictions, make sure you have clear health and safety processes set out, and they will need to be strictly followed. Keep in mind there will likely still be restrictions around travel, including public transport. So if you travel in your business, what local work could you do? Are there some new local initiatives you could be apart of, or can you start one yourself!?
As mass gatherings are likely to still be banned, you'll need to adapt your business model to suit. This might include opening with a one in, one out policy, or offering only takeaway or delivery on your product. You may need to look for ways to operate with a reduced staff, or split shifts to keep numbers down. There's a good chance you'll need to look at contact tracing - who you and your workplace come into contact with. Are there tools you can use to keep track of your supply chain and customers?
No matter how you're able to operate within this or any level, your cash flow should always be looked at and forecasted for each scenario. For example, if you're operating with one in and one out for several weeks or months, your 'usual' revenue will still be reduced. What can you do to balance that?
Does your business import from overseas? If so, you'll need to take into account extra time for deliveries to be cleared through customs. That might then have an impact on your cash, and your ability to fund further business. Map out a worst case scenario for this and try to balance it.
Keep your customers updated with your current situation. If you're open and operating, don't assume that your customers will know that. If you are open, let them know of any changes to your hours, what your current offering is (if different to usual), and what steps you’re taking to keep your employees, customers, and work environment safe and clean.
Expect that at alert level 3 there is likely to be more widespread activity with more people back at work, but strict rules around physical separation and hand hygiene etc. It might also be worth keeping in mind that a drop to level 3, doesn't mean rising back up to level 4 won't happen if rules aren't followed, and spread was to accelerate again.
Operating in alert level 2, or 1
A drop down to level 2 will be a welcome relief to a lot of businesses! If you have the ability to keep your staff working from home, you should do so to continue physical distancing. If you do have all your staff returning to your workplace, maintaining physical distancing should be looked at, as well as what health and safety practices need to continue, or be heightened, to keep everyone safe.
You may need to look at some changes to your premises to fit physical distancing rules - spreading out work spaces, tables/chairs, product displays etc.
Where to start
Write down each of the alert levels with some hypothetical scenarios, and put a few ideas for how you'll operate against each. You should look at some of the below points against your scenarios:
- Health and safety
- Restricted travel, adapt to what is in your local area
- Physical distancing
- Utilise technology, like going cashless
As with all of our advice, we recommend reaching out to an expert to support you through these challenging times for business. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, we have business advisors, accountants, and HR specialists that can chat to you about what options you have in your business, and they can work through a step by step plan with you. We have a video meeting system which means we can meet and talk to you from anywhere.
And check out our Facebook Business Hub page, there are some really useful updates and discussions happening on there. This page is managed by RightWay business advisors, tax experts, and HR advisors to keep you updated on news and information for your business.