Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Your Business Needs To Know
With each passing day it is becoming more clear that the world-wide pandemic, Coronavirus (COVID-19), is going to have far reaching impacts for all of us. Small businesses are the engine that drives our communities and local economies. Small businesses are also in the least steady position to weather through a rough patch. As business owners, we must make preparations for how this will impact our business and our livelihood, as well as the safety and livelihood of our employees. We believe that it is important at this time to remain calm and begin designing a comprehensive business continuity plan.
The word of the day is DISRUPTION. You are probably already feeling the disruptive effects of school cancellations, prohibitions of large public gatherings, non-essential local government services being limited or shut down, etc. To prepare for potential impacts for the next 2 – 3 months, it’s time to start looking at what kind of disruption could occur in your business. For the construction industry, we believe that the most significant challenges we might experience are labor force disruption and supply chain disruption.
As a business owner, you likely already understand that your most important asset is your human capital. In the construction industry, we have a long standing shortage of skilled tradespeople that has already created a delicate balance between labor force management and meeting schedule benchmarks. If some of the skilled tradespeople that you depend on were to become unable to work, what is your backup plan for getting that work done? If there is a construction boom in your area, how will you grab your piece of that pie?
Many businesses are opting to send their office workers home to work remotely. Do you have appropriate hardware and software infrastructure in place for telecommuting? Now would be the ideal time to identify which essential front & back office functions must continue in order for your business to operate; AND to make sure that your office team is cross-trained on these functions. It is wise to plan on one or more members of your staff being out sick and unable to work on their job functions (even on a remote basis).
This is also a good time to examine your supply chain and make alternate plans for how to get the materials necessary to complete your work. Many of our building materials come from the global supply chain which has already been experiencing disruption over the past 2 months. With many states now experiencing manufacturing shutdowns, it is possible we could see disruption in our domestic supply chain as well. Do you have a contingency plan for obtaining materials? Have you defined guidelines for prioritizing which work will be completed if there are limited supplies available?
We are hopeful that the construction industry can pivot quickly to new ways of working that will comply with local/federal health requirements and safeguard their valued employees. We also think that it is worth creating a plan for what you will do if your business should experience a significant decline in work and revenue. New resources are being made available daily in the form of SBA loans and short term operating capital from banks and credit cards. The Texas Workforce Commission has a wonderful “Shared Work” program. It covers periods of partial unemployment when you need to reduce employee’s scheduled work hours but don’t want to do full layoffs. The program replaces some of your employee’s income through our state unemployment insurance program, allowing you to retain your human capital investment.
Here are some helpful links that you can check out for additional information and resources: