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Returning to ‘normal’: what you might not know

July 2020

Returning to ‘normal’: what you might not know

Written by Mark Schofield, director at Haworths Chartered Accountants. To support businesses and individuals throughout COVID-19 and beyond, Haworths Chartered Accountants has created a special Resource Centre on its website, which contains a wealth of information and expert advice to navigate you through this time.

As businesses start their recovery and continue with their return to work plans, many are still unsure of the practical implications of social distancing and Government guidance, and how this will affect their business.

We recently undertook some market research with our clients to understand their views on the future of their sector and the steps they are taking to make changes within their operations. Many responded to say that as guidance from the Government changes on an almost daily basis, it is still too soon to predict what the future might look like for their business.

As well as providing ongoing financial support to our clients throughout the pandemic, we have also acted as a business consultancy service to provide practical advice on the things small and large firms need to consider before they can create their own new normal.

Here, I have collated our most commonly requested pieces of advice, for businesses in Settle to consider – and even apply – as they start to bring back workforces and reopen their premises.

Look beyond emergency finance

The Government’s emergency measures to help businesses navigate the inevitable financial implications have been widely documented. While we have helped many clients with COVID-19 grant and loan applications, we have also been aiding them to look outside these parameters and understand what other finance and tax schemes are available to unlock hidden capital.

Logistics of the new normal

Social distancing has required a whole new way of thinking in many workplaces, but for particular industries, putting the guidance into practice is much harder. For example, in construction, keeping a metre apart on a building site can be tricky, while in hospitality, lateral thinking will be required in order to recoup lost revenue.

For example, in the first instance, a restaurant’s total covers will have to be reduced to observe social distancing. While many restaurants will currently have rent and rate holidays, and will be paying less in staff wages, a minimum amount of income will be needed to cover the wages of those who are in work and to pay the utilities needed to cook and serve food and drink. How many covers are required to achieve that? The future requires a different way of thinking, but we have helped several hospitality clients implement ways of working that strike this balance.

Supply chains

Businesses aren’t reliant on insular networks. Supply chains are lengthy and complex, and the global nature of the Coronavirus has had a huge impact on this. The supply of many products and services that UK businesses rely on has been disrupted, leading many to scale back their operations in certain areas while these items are restocked. Others, however, have found new areas of opportunity and as such are relying on completely new supply chains, with which they are looking to strike relationships for the first time.

We have been supporting clients who need to renegotiate payment terms with suppliers, as well as providing consultancy for those who have used the pandemic as an opportunity to branch into a new area. We’re keen to help others do the same.

Making efficiencies

When a business is trying to recover from a major loss of income, they must implement long term efficiencies which require less resource than usual to get a job done, in order to recoup some capital. Usually, this relies on an upfront, financial investment. In the current climate, this can be an intimidating step but it’s one we are encouraging for businesses who identify that speculating to accumulate is a savvy step.

For example, we’re helping traditional businesses that have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 to invest in technology that facilitates digital, automated accounting which frees up resource in its team. The extra people hours identified by this can be allocated elsewhere in the business, as a way of achieving long term financial efficiency.

Planning for the future

The pandemic has shown many businesses that they can operate on a knife edge, at just a fraction of their usual revenues. For others, where there has been a surge in demand for their services, the Coronavirus has presented a whole new challenge – that of rapidly upscaling and a reliance on resource that hasn’t been needed before.

Whatever the impact of COVID-19 on your business, and however uncertain the future might look, we are here to help you predict what might come next. Our experience means we can anticipate legislation that might come into play; we can identify areas for growth when you might think your business is completely stagnant, and it means we can offer sound, commercial advice that gives you confidence for the next week, the next month, the next year and beyond.

Use us to look outside the realms of accounting; Haworths is a business service aid, designed to think of everything you haven’t.

For more information, contact Haworths Chartered Accountants on 01729 823755 or email enquiries@haworths.co.uk.

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