Over recent weeks, businesses across the UK have found themselves needing to adapt to huge changes. For some this has caused business to dry up completely and for others, it’s led to peaking customer demands that businesses are struggling to fulfil.
The fast pace at which COVID-19 has developed has delivered a sudden economic impact that many businesses are finding difficult to navigate, yet need to respond to quickly in order to survive.
It’s seen the pound fall to its weakest level against the US dollar in 35 years (1) and its damaging effects will likely continue throughout 2020.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is estimating UK GDP growth for 2020 of 0.8% – the weakest full-year growth outturn since 1992, outside of the 2008/2009 financial crisis (2).
An unforeseen crisis like the one we are currently facing has taken the world by surprise and is not something that most businesses would have planned for. During these unpredictable times where navigating change, scenario planning and solving problems are paramount, the need for the skills of experienced business management consultants is increasing.
Business management consultants should be in high demand right now to help businesses prepare for short term survival, as well as mid-term and long-term recovery from the effects of COVID-19 over the following 12 months and beyond.
Where there is a crisis, there are opportunities. As a management consultant your expertise, and wealth of experience in assisting businesses, can help companies to assess the damage they face, prepare contingency plans and adapt to change.
Companies are being hugely affected from every angle and therefore expert advice will be needed across all departments – from restricting risk to managing change, to cost cutting and engaging with stakeholders, to fixing supply chains. The way the majority of companies usually function has been thrown upside down, calling for new business strategies to be put into action.
Liquidity and cash are key factors for any business, but never more so than in this fast-moving pandemic. A weakening in consumer demands and disruption to the supply chain has left many businesses in financial turmoil.
If your expertise lie in financial performance, you could help companies to assess their cash position and understand the avenues available to them such as lenders, government schemes and trapped cash, as well as determining how to quickly bring business costs down.
Gaining this kind of advice could help to reduce panic and be the difference between a company staying afloat or failing over the next three to six months.
Another key area that businesses will need assistance with is stakeholder communication, internally and externally. That could include employees, customers, regulators, suppliers and other important parties.
Actively engaging with these stakeholders and keeping them updated each step of the way will be crucial. Hiring a PR consultant to develop a strategy for this and think of new ways to keep stakeholders updated will help to improve clarity, staff morale and the business as a whole.
Putting the health and wellbeing of employees and customers first during the current outbreak is an integral part of the solution. Finding ways to do this virtually, in some cases, poses a challenge that companies need help tackling.
Aside from the consumer demand having plummeted for some businesses, which could mean restructuring, there are internal factors that could affect ‘business as usual’.
Issues such as workers contracting coronavirus at the same time or workers self-isolating at the same time because a member of their household has coronavirus and ways of tackling these people focused circumstances, need carefully planning.
Industries that are likely to require support with this are those essential services whose workload will remain heavy throughout the coming months, like healthcare, utilities, food distribution and banking.
As well as health implications, the uncertainty of what is going on and the distractions of working from home will undoubtedly affect levels of productivity for staff. Resolutions to mitigate or support these factors will need establishing.
As a business consultant you can help clients to work through issues such as:
Management consultants can be pivotal in times of crisis by turning the crisis into an opportunity. With the right brain power, a damaging situation can be channelled into something positive and solutions can be found to overcome challenges and improve performance.
A change in the market, although daunting is a chance to innovate. If a brand’s physical store cannot be open for business, then now is the time to seek expert advice and maximise their e-business activities. With a fully functional online platform, it could in the long run, when stores are back open post pandemic, mean better business than before.
Across the board, all industries in low or high demand should embrace this opportunity to innovate and manage new business ideas.
PureGym for example, while gyms are closed, have created a new product – PureGym Together, providing at home workouts and fitness support for a reduced monthly contribution.
If a company cannot create a new business product, there might be an opportunity for a consultant to think of a strategy around improving customer loyalty and brand image.
Making a contribution to society could be a way of achieving this, for example a restaurant cooking and delivering free meals to their local NHS hospital staff, or a skincare brand giving away free soap while people are struggling to get hold of hand wash products.
Consultants can deliver these ideas which provide a route to gaining positive press, brand awareness and competitive advantage.
COVID-19 innovation needs management consultants can help launch include:
While times are uncertain and we don’t know how long coronavirus could be around for, businesses need help planning for the scenarios they might face. Working with a consulting professional can help to determine the greatest issues within organisations, both in areas of business and in terms of time.
One issue that has already affected some businesses and could get worse is supply chain disruption. If for example different parts of the world experience a coronavirus peak at the same time, such as Europe and North America, this could have big implications, with staple products that we are used to purchasing being reduced to short supply.
Whether this kind of scenario will come to fruition is unknown but devising a plan just in case it does can make any eventuality feel less over-facing.
Exploring the different options available to keep things going, helps ensure a company is financially able to continue and is prepared for any situation that may unfold.
Through scenario planning, a consultant can put together the steps a brand is going to take to manage, tackle and respond to a situation. It can also prepare companies for worst-case scenarios and identify what that would mean for various parts of a business such as suppliers, customers and staff.
When the pandemic starts drawing to a close, those industries worst affected by quarantine restrictions, including tourism and the hospitality industry, will need the expertise of a business management consultant to help relaunch their businesses and facilitate growth.
Hospitality and Tourism makes up an 8.4% share of total UK employment and 10.4% of total UK establishments (3). That’s a big share of the economy and consists of many businesses who’ll want to be back up and booming as quickly as possible once the lockdown has ended.
Business owners will need your fresh ideas and problem-solving abilities to affordably restart their businesses and recover their brand identity. Even when the peak of COVID-19 is over, things aren’t likely to return to how they were. Precautions will still need to be taken and adapting to the new societal norms is something many companies are going to need assistance with.
If you’d like to find out more about business insurance for consultants, contact our award-winning team on 0333 321 1403, or click to get a quick online quote in minutes!