SHANAZ SUKHDEO Guest column
These suggestions are for entities (even non-profits and government agencies) with more than ten employees, and the need to keep them regardless of the duration of the coronavirus slowdown. Whilst some know all of the following, others may not, and may find these useful.
The one thing all entities can do is work on fixing every inefficiency in your entity, specifically, inefficiencies that relate to existing systems, procedures, products and services. Remedy the existing first – your cash cows. List them, assign them, create feedback loops, test them, document the changes et al.
One in particular is to schedule everyone, from home, to enhance their customer service skills – the one skill that helps almost all personnel and entities. A simple video search of “customer service training videos” was quite revealing.
Utilise payment-on-account, to get some cash rapidly. Ask ALL that owe you a lot, such as government entities to “send a cheque for a FIXED amount of $---.00, to continue providing the goods/services we provide” that is less than 50 per cent of all receivables from them that “will not be applied to individual invoices but will be a payment on their total outstanding balance.”
You negate they saying “we have not yet reviewed invoice #3” etcetera. Also review every debt for collectibility, especially the +120 days ones. Beef-up existing products and services - what you already offer. Think airlines with their first class, business class and economy class price-segmentation, and beyond that. Research equivalent products/services and make your offerings even better.
Work on the non-urgent stuff that have gotten sidelined. All the manuals that have gotten sidelined (easy work-from-home task), fixed asset and inventory counts, maintenance of equipment (mentioned for oil/gas sector but applicable to manufacturers, others), logo changes, tagline changes, better social media marketing and advertising plans, taxes, accounting backlogs, planned but not-yet-launched products and services (ideal for sales personnel to handle, maybe).
Work on your all-disaster plans, not only from a business continuity perspective. To the consulates, international orgs, MNCs, foreign firms in TT, if you chose residences for expats without adequate due diligence (for earthquakes, hurricanes, floods mainly) – now is the easiest time to find more disaster-resistant residences.
TOFCO is the indigenous company that fabricated/built the oil rigs for BP and others, right here, at Labidco. TOFCO is mentioned because the one thing to know, is that most diversification is private-sector created, not from government. Government facilitates diversification with the right laws, business incentives, taxes et al.
For the companies that are completely or almost shut down for coronavirus reasons – the cinemas, sports entities, tourism entities, others – one way to utilize staff is to have them research diversification options. Cinemas should realise by now that they ought to have other income streams – I recommend manufacturing, not pepper sauce or foods but many options available.
Consider existing products that sell versus new products. Sedans not coupes. Too often we want the glamour – open a restaurant/bar on The Avenue when the best market might be in Arima. Another is importing and wholesaling but severely affected by the existing foreign exchange situation.
One in particular, albeit glamorous, but not truly one, is the fourth industrial revolution. From IoT to robotics to blockchain to nano-tech plus more. A list I have compiled has more than 20 fourth industrial revolution sectors. If TOFCO can fabricate oil rigs here, we can get in on the fourth industrial revolution – in a global way.
Shanaz Sukhdeo is founder/CEO of Aristotle Natural Disasters Prevention & Mitigation Co. Ltd.