Getting your business ready for a tough winter: A guide

There’s no doubt in the minds of business managers across the world: we’re in for a tough winter of lower consumer spending, record low investment, and record-high levels of unemployment. With the world still expecting a significant recession as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, this is a time for businesses to prepare for a winter when demand for their products and services might fall significantly. Read on to find out how you and your firm can best prepare for an unprecedented winter of disruption and low sales.

Mapping and modelling 

A great place to start your preparation journey is with mapping and modelling, which will help you predict how your winter might proceed, and what you’ll have to do if you don’t meet your expected sales for the month or the quarter. For many companies, this means assigning your spreadsheet gurus with the task of modelling a number of different income scenarios. From there, you’ll be able to make swift decisions that’ll help you deal with the bumps on the road ahead.

Here are some examples of the contingency plans that you should consider drawing up for this coming winter:

  • The likelihood of receiving state or federal support – in the form of tax relief and other subsidies – in the months to come.
  • Where you are able to reduce your overheads, and whether this will involve making certain staff redundant.
  • How much cash your company needs to continue operating at a profit, as a minimum.
  • What sales incentives and changes you can make to your products and services in order to receive a boost at a time where you anticipate low sales.

This is high-level planning that you should conduct in the boardroom and with your senior staff and managers – helping you prepare for a winter that has the potential to be one of the most challenging in living memory.

Remote working

Whether or not your company is presently asking your staff to work remotely, there is a distinct possibility that you’ll be faced with challenging circumstances during which it may be preferable for your workers to work at home. This will be the case if there’s a spike in infections in your local area, or if you decide that your firm will have to give up its office space as an overhead cutback in the coming weeks or months.

In either case, it’s your digital assets that will support your work and the work or your colleagues and employees when you enact remote working across your firm. And here, it’s crucial that you’re able to manage your digital assets wisely – so that you’re not fretting, losing time and files, with several distinct and disparate digital work platforms. A digital asset manager (or DAM) will help you centralize this work; see this helpful DAM overview to kickstart your research and preparation for remote working this winter.

Marketing digitally

With fewer and fewer people heading out to the store – and with winter a time during which shoppers tend to spend more time indoors – 2020 appears to be a smart time to invest in digital marketing. When you market online, you’re able to specifically target local consumer if you’re a local firm – or you’re able to sell globally, to a huge audience, if you’re able to ship your products internationally, or provide your services across the world. 

With all this in mind, it’s worth looking into how you can boost your digital marketing output for the coming winter. Is this the time to invest in the assistance of an agency – with an expected ROI that’s far higher than the investment that you put in? Talk with your current marketing arm about expanding your digital marketing budget – one of the surefire ways in which you’ll be able to draw in additional sales this winter.

Adjusting budgets

Your financial team will have been involved in the modelling for your business suggested above – but it’s time to get your CFO and other financial modellers back around the meeting table to consider how you can adjust your investments and financial commitments for a winter in which you might struggle to turn over a profit. It’s with these financial experts that you’ll be able to create a plan that’ll help you ride out the worst economic impacts of the coronavirus this winter.

During these discussions, your key aim is to decide what measures you should put in place to get you to spring and summer – where a vaccine is likely to have emerged to help return the economy to some semblance of normality. Whether this means reducing your production cycle, or ordering less stock, your financial advisors – or consultants you bring in to advise you – will be the individuals with the answers.

Due diligence

It’s not just your own firm that’ll be preparing for a long and difficult winter – it’s also all those businesses that you deal with. Some may be facing incredibly challenging times – and others might go out of business in the coming months. As such, it’s vitally important that you conduct a revised due diligence check on all of your suppliers, clients and partners. All of them will be suffering in different ways from the economic circumstances we’re living through – and you need to know if your partners can still be relied upon in the coming months.

Due diligence is all about worst-case scenario planning, and it’s in this sense that a Plan B option, should a major supplier or partner go out of business, is essential this winter. Shop around for alternatives to help you keep your supply chain going this winter, and get in touch with local companies that you might be able to set up partnerships with should you be let down by your current partners. Remember that the failures of other businesses can reflect badly on your own firm – and you have a responsibility to conduct due diligence and mitigation planning for these scenarios. 

Preparing your business for a tough winter will be at the forefront of your mind as we head towards the coldest months of the year. This guide aims to help you prioritize your response to the threat of global recession and the impact that might have on your business.