Top 5 business tips to manage clients amidst COVID-19
Pete Reis-Campbell, CEO at Kaizen, shares his thoughts, experience, and advice to successfully manage your clients during COVID-19, how to protect your team and how the virus has affected his own business.
As a business owner, the prospect of a pandemic that affects many global economies and potentially the day-to-day running of your business can feel daunting. It can be tricky to know how, and where, to lead your business.
1. Be there for your team
Your employees are the most important part of your business. It’s important to recognise that they are likely to feel anxious during this time. Respect that you might see a dip in productivity whilst employees find their feet with this new way of working.
For businesses that have moved to remote working during the pandemic, communication is more important now than it ever has been. Be over the top with it. This means more video calls, more meetings, and more contact. Consider introducing more chances for team check-ins and let them know you’re readily available for a ‘virtual tea’ or to answer any questions they might have.
Slack is a great communication platform that allows everyone in your company to converse throughout the day. This becomes more than just the general running of projects, but a space to encourage employees to share highlights of the week. For us, this can be any activity from beautiful design work to top-tier media placements.
2. Put steps and a POA in place
If you haven’t already, it’s time to consider how COVID-19 is affecting your business and what you can do to reduce the negative impact. This action plan can be split into three manageable steps:
1) Firstly, reduce costs
Once coronavirus picked up, we went through all costs line by line to remove unnecessary cash loss. From software providers to fruit deliveries, this is the time to renegotiate with your suppliers. Reach out to all of your suppliers and see if you can obtain a deferral, a payment holiday or a reduction in overall cost. The more money you can scrape back during this time, the better.
2) Taking advantage of the employee furlough scheme
Do all you can to protect your staff. If you need to, lean on the scheme to cover employee costs and for job reassurance. This can be a lifeline for very small businesses that may see lower cashflow during COVID.
3) Reconfigure and reconstruct your business to cover any losses
If business did get worse, how can you operate at a reduced capacity? Work this out in your business so you know how to act if the worst did happen.
Do right by your employees and look at all three of those plans. A well-prepped business owner has to look at the worst and the best scenario.
3. Give your clients options
Like us, our clients are often business owners. They share the same uncertainty and anxieties post-COVID. With this in mind, consider what you, as a business, can do to continue delivering great work during this time.
Every client has a different culture and this pandemic has made that clear across our own client base. For example, one of our motoring insurance clients has wanted to increase their budget and do more work. A number of our travel clients have wanted to defer or stop work completely.
In the PR and marketing world, we came up with four different options: pause work, carry on like normal, do less work or do more work. Check-in with your client first to see how they’re coping and what they’ve done already before offering those four options.
4. Stick to your original goal
Simply, there was a reason you started. Remember your business ethos and goals throughout this time. There will be an end to this period and normality will return.
5. Remember the importance of a rainy day fund
This pot should cover at least two months’ worth of wages and running costs. My accountant advised me to do this early on.
If this wasn’t achievable for your business pre-COVID, be sure to begin working towards having this money in the bank after the pandemic. Agencies, in particular, will always face the challenge of cash flow - regardless of COVID-19. Having the rainy day fund to hand can help ease your own anxieties and protect your business in the long run.
For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”