COVID 19 and business continuity- A guide for agencies to sail through rough waters

11 Jul, 2020

COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected more countries so far, than both the world wars put together. The virus has been continuously damaging the individuals, agencies, societies, and economies. In a short span of six months, the situation has moved from emerging threat to a long lasting danger both for consumers and companies. Consulting firm McKinsey's recent study suggests that the UK GDP in 2020 could shrink by 9 percent.

A recent study conducted with 200 small and large UK agencies found the following:

  • Both small and large-sized agencies in the UK experienced a large dip in their revenues.
  • The average revenue drop of 33% on an average as an impact of COVID-19.
COVID 19 Business Continuity Guide

Agencies need to thrive and can no longer afford to wait for this to pass as it seems normalcy may take a long time. Agencies that make the right move will lead the pack and create a more robust future for them. Here are few things which you must go with:

  • Keep your emergency response team, ready and in action: The situation is going out of control with each passing day and many areas need an immediate response. Agencies must build cross-functional teams to give responsewithout delays. The UK government actions to control the COVID 19 crisis are in continuation; agencies must follow the guidelines issued by UK government and National Health Service and comply with the samewithout fail. Give your team the authority to make recommendations around workforce, supply, inventory, and consumer sentiments, and implement the compliance requirements mandated by the UK government.
  • Plan for the safety of your employees and customers:Working from home is the new normal; leverage this to your advantage. Ensure the premises are sanitized and safe, when you call your employees back in the office. Teams that are exposed and involved in customer handling such as customer or store visits must be equipped with necessary sanitary or personal protection equipment. Agencies must ensure that there should be no negligence when it comes to taking precautions. You may incur fines in case of Non-compliance.
  • Implementation of Plan B: Agencies may also consider having a Plan B when it comes to workforce. You can split core functions into two teams that work in the office on alternating days in order to reduce the exposure.
  • Review your production plan and manage inventory: The new situation may result in a spike across few selected categories. Plan for a step up, go for production across categories in demand, and put halt on categories facing temporary decline to make a higher profit. The spike may be difficult to measure if you are doing forecasting using past data. Instead of this, build newer models which are most relevant to the new normal.
  • Ensure your last-mile delivery does not suffer: Agencies must come up with strategies to deliver products in potential lockdown areas. Review your delivery plans for stock fulfilment, deliver to your partner stores rather than choosing home delivery as the only option. Expand your network of logistic providers for different warehouses and distribution centres as movement across the borders may have some restrictions imposed.
  • Keep a track of invoices and manage your cash flows: Expect delay in your payments as COVID-19 has impacted your customers and buyers in a big way. If there is limited cash flow, you must keep a check on your budget, then plan and manage within the available resources. Agencies must cut unnecessary expenses as much as possible in order to maintain their cash flow position.

Leverage the present situation as an opportunity to assess your customer network. Review your credit policies and manage your cash properly.

Also See: Umbrella vs Limited: Which is right for you?

Tips to follow while choosing an umbrella company:

Here are few tips that you must take into consideration while choose an umbrella company:

  • Check for the umbrella company's compliances: Before engaging with an umbrella company, you as an agency must ensure that the umbrella company is 100% HMRC compliant. Engaging with a non-compliant company, just because they are offering you higher take-home may not be a wise step. Do your homework and always register with companies that comply with HMRC norms.
  • Ease of Access: Payroll however administrative may seemslike is a very critical function. An adequate support is needed and it must be fast at most of the times. Sign up with an umbrella company that pays extra attention to the customer service. The ideal step would be to work with an umbrella company that offers 24/7 support, so that you can work smoothly with them and help resolve your issues as quickly as possible.
  • Customer Reviews: Happy customer reviews are the biggest evidence of fulfilment of commitments and capabilities of any umbrella company. Do read up reviews of their past customers before joiningany umbrella company.
  • Registration and Exit Fees: Ideally, the umbrella company should allow you to exit whenever you like without giving anyfee. If the umbrella company is taking charges for registration, setups, or the exit fees, think twice before joining them.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: There are many umbrella companies operating in UK which claims that they are better than other ones. Compare the fees and the services offered by Umbrella Company before arriving at a decision of which one is best for you.
  • COVID 19 response: The present situation of Coronavirus put a lot of pressure on agencies and umbrella companies. Responsiveness and the services offered by a company in this testing time can help you arrive at a decision of choosing the best one.

Also See: Key Information Document