May 8, 2020
1. Be transparent
It's vital during a crisis that you're transparent about your company's situation. You might not feel good telling your suppliers that the business has slowed considerably. Still, honesty and transparency will help them understand your situation and encourage them to work with you on a solution.
The same is true of employees. Your staff needs you to be open and honest with them about where your company currently stands, how long you expect to stay open if the situation continues, and what adaptations they can make so you can stay in business. Even employees who are resistant to change will likely find ways to adjust if it's necessary to keep your business running. But it's more difficult for them to buy-in to your changes if they don't know why they're doing so.
You may also not feel great telling customers about your business troubles during COVID-19, but loyal clients will want to know and will do what they can to help out, even if that means buying gift cards for your services to use at a later date.
2. Be consistent
It's not enough these days to issue one email to your staff at the beginning of a crisis and hope they don't need more information from you. Things change suddenly and unexpectedly, and your employees need to hear from you regularly.
You don't have to inundate them with emails, but a couple of messages a week to let them know how business is doing and any changes to your policies or procedures will help them. Especially if your staff is now working remotely, you need to check in to make sure they're supported as they adjust to their new work life.
Keep contact with your clients, too, so they know of any changes that affect them. Let them know how you can help them during the pandemic—if you still can—and ways they can help you or other small businesses.
3. Be realistic
A pandemic is not the time to be overly optimistic about your capabilities. Be realistic about what you know you can commit to and don't make promises beyond that.
Don't promise your employees you will keep them employed for the duration of the pandemic unless you know for sure you have the cash flow to do so. It doesn't help your employees to think things are fine to be surprised when you can't afford the payroll suddenly. Instead, be honest and realistic about what you can do and what you likely can't.
If you're negotiating a change in your credit terms, be realistic about when and how much you can pay. If you're looking to renegotiate your rent agreement, be honest about what you can and can't afford. This will help the landowner and creditors come to a reasonable agreement with you.
Remember, you aren't in this situation alone. Countless other small business owners face the same scenario you do. Many institutions, customers, and employees will do what they can to help your construction business succeed, so don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help or tell them what you need.
Being transparent, consistent, and realistic with your communications will help you navigate these uncertain times.
Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us if you have a question.
About The Author:
Sharie DeHart, QPA is the co-founder of Business Consulting And Accounting in Lynnwood, Washington. She is the leading expert in managing outsourced construction bookkeeping and accounting services companies and cash management accounting for small construction companies across the USA. She encourages Contractors and Construction Company Owners to stay current on their tax obligations and offers insights on how to manage the remaining cash flow to operate and grow their construction company sales and profits so they can put more money in the bank. Call 1-800-361-1770 or firstname.lastname@example.org