Nearly six months into 2020, most of the talk and media coverage remains focused on COVID-19. Reviewing Google Trends for March-April-May, the topic shot upward the beginning of March and has remained high, gradually trending downward since late-April.
While we are relieved to see new topics and concerns gaining momentum as life slowly returns to some semblance of normal, the C word is likely to be with us for many months ahead as the focus shifts to recovery plans and considerations.
A playbook for COVID recovery
Every client and prospect we interact with says essentially the same thing: they’re figuring this out as they go. To that end, we’ve compiled and updated a few COVID-19 CI advisories we published during the height of the crisis from late March through April in a playbook called Competitive Advantage in a Crisis.
The advisories included in this playbook touch on four key topics:
1. Leveraging market and competitive intelligence
Companies with an information advantage will also have a competitive advantage, as business conditions have been crippled and will remain handicapped for the foreseeable future. Meaningful research and intelligence can ease the way forward by monitoring risks to avoid, revealing opportunities to pursue, and informing possible scenarios and outcomes.
2. Reassessing real estate strategies
According to Deloitte, commercial real estate was immediately affected, with downward trends in liquidity, leasing volume, investments and operations. The few exceptions and bright spots are e-commerce companies, grocery stores and pharmacies. Now that every organization and every knowledge worker in most of the developed world has tested the concept of remote work, the effects are likely to reverberate for months to come.
3. Navigating government relief
Government intervention at all levels, from federal to local, has been swift, fluid, and in some cases, controversial. Funds intended for small businesses came with loopholes that allowed large entities with ostensibly greater access to financial resources a way in, which led to outcries and some of those companies returning the funds rather than face customer backlash and brand tarnishing. Determining when, if and how to participate in these programs will be an ongoing concern, especially if lifelines become a necessity to pay staff and for other needs.
4. Applying spend management principles
Cost-cutting and budget freezing were the first responses across all entities. Companies with strong cash flow and cash reserves are of course best-prepared to weather the recovery period. Companies with high debt levels and inflexible financial and operational commitments will need to be more creative and resilient. We discuss spend management tactics and tips that can be immediately utilized to realign expenses with forecasts, benchmarks and plans.
Two variables of economic recovery
Finally, looking at the horizon ahead, we’ve plotted two variables that will determine the speed and trajectory of the recovery and shape the future business climate:
Liquidity: Cash flow and credit access
Virus: Continued spread or containment
Monitoring and protecting your liquidity and the coronavirus status—particularly in locations that matter to your business—will be necessary to model revenue and cash flow, set expectations for key stakeholders, and prepare for any outlook.
The next phase and the post-COVID world will be complex and nuanced, placing new pressures and demands on business leaders. Those choices can be made on a hunch and in a vacuum, or they can be informed and guided by market intelligence.
In that vein, we have prepared this concise playbook with suggestions and best practices for the above topics and other considerations. We are happy to make it available to every business leader and manager facing tough choices.