CORONAVIRUS REOPENING STAGES
(Covid-19:Economic relief )
10-Step Plan for Founder-Owners
- Opening: “You can’t handle the truth!”
Today I am going to discuss the Coronavirus Reopening Stages for Canadian businesses. If you’re a Canadian owner-operator of a family business, getting ready to reopen or have just re-launched and you don’t want an opinion piece on what it will take to move forward in the business environment of early summer 2020, perhaps you’re one of those people, to whom Jack Nicholson’s character, was speaking, when he uttered this famous line in the movie, “A Few Good Men.” His point was that it was better to withhold information about the ugliness in the world to those who were unable to deal with it. So I need to know, right off, whether or not, you can take the hard truth about being in business today? You see, some of you might not want to hear what I have to say about the new normal, preferring to carry on just like before. But here’s the thing, in my opinion, you might not survive this upheaval. But if you’re an entrepreneur, who can deal with tough times, intent on taking on the commercial challenges at present, please continue reading on.
- Covid-19: Gold’s 10-Step Small/Family Business Reopening Plan for Founder/ Owner-Operators*
I’m still on the subject of the Corona Virus pandemic crisis and the corresponding COVID-19 relief and funding programs, but now the topic is the reopening of the economy. States in the U.S. and provinces in Canada are in the early stages of their reopen plan. Corporations in essential services and supplying the food supply chain have already been dealing with the new normal. But now, there’s going to be many more companies coming on stream. To them, I say, “If you’re reading this, you must be tough enough to handle the truth! If getting ready to reopen, this blog post might help you in the planning of your re-launch. Or if you’ve already unlocked the door, it could assist you in making adjustments. In the alternative, it might be an aid in taking a different tack. Without further ado, hereinafter is Gold’s 10-Step Small/Family Business Reopening Plan for Founder/Owner-Operators*.
- START by taking a walk down memory lane. This is to provide you context. To understand where you are and where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been and how far things have shifted. So please be informed that in the near past,
- People became self –employed for the most part, if and when,
- They were barred from taking positions in the work force;
- They had lost their jobs.
- They were good at what they did, self-starters, hard working & ready to satisfy customers, desirous of being their own boss.
- They were exceptional innovators with a vision who went on to build empires
- People launched businesses in an environment when
- Life was happening around them;
- Numbers of households were increasing;
- There was consumer growth;
- Mergers and acquisitions were generally being done;
- Sales were being widely made across the economy, be them to for goods delivered or services rendered, etc.
- Business men and women would probably succeed provided,
- That the merchandise sold and delivered was of an acceptable level of quality- and the same went for the services rendered;
- That the price was fair and reasonable;
- That they would accurately take into account costs and expenses; etc.
- Businesses would see increased sales and gain market share if well situated relative to their customers and labor force. In other words, I’m speaking about being close and convenient. Indeed, this was a time when the rule was “Location, Location, location!”
- Businesses typically in the right sector at the right place and time would get bigger, this through expansion, scaling up the model, etc.
BUT times have changed!
- STOP & SMELL the coffee. In other words, TAKE a Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic Small Business reality check. Simply put, the current commercial environment is far different to what we’re used. That’s why, it’s mandatory to see the challenges of the here and now and the near future. To this end,
- EXAMINE the current marketplace. Of course, if a captain of a ship, about to set out on a sea voyage, you would first inform yourself of the news and weather conditions. The same goes for a family business founder/owner-operator in this Corona virus era, making ready to reopen or in the early days of the re-launch. As to the immediate future, there’s a tremendous amount of concern out there, but there isn’t a whole lot of hard facts and absolutes. Here’s my take. While I don’t know for certain, but based upon the information available to me, I submit:
- That while there are differences in degree, the health calamity did reach just about every country in the world. The resulting economic crisis was extraordinarily quick and dramatic. It could be said that it was self-created by nations since it occurred subsequent to a national lockdown or the making of one or more shelter-in-place or a stay-at-home orders. As a result, apart from health care, essential services, online commerce, etc., just about everything in the face-to-face economy did come to a sudden, abrupt stop.
- That life as we knew it changed overnight! As for example, most people became nervous about being with others. And in the near future, many are going to remain cautious, hesitating about leaving their homes and moving around. Indeed, nearly everyone will insist upon being safe not sorry.
- That when much business was curtailed, certain sectors were hit harder than others. Here’s a quick rundown. Food staples are good, but supply chains were impacted. Oil and gas did suffer lack of demand. Bricks and mortar retail was shut down. Commercial real estate sector is in deep trouble. Travel and hospitality is in the toilet. Indeed, airlines are losing money hand over fist!
- That unemployment levels are gigantic. As a result, these former workers are having grave difficulty in paying their bills. And many homeowners will be hard- pressed in paying their mortgage payments. And just about drowning in the mountain of householder debt, many consumers will be unable to pay balances on their credit cards. In addition, please note that in few months hence, these people could be sidelined in whole or in part, from the consumer marketplace.
- That a bankruptcy tsunami is coming. Businesses previously shuttered and more in debt and now unable to regain sales will become insolvent one after the other. As the months tick by, it’s going to be a blood bath out there! (N.B. Corporations are not now just facing a liquidity crisis, but they’re also challenged by a solvency crisis. Jerome Powell, the Fed chairman, distinguished the two. He said, “In a liquidity crisis, otherwise healthy firms collapse because they can’t access credit. The Fed can resolve such a crisis because it can print and lend unlimited amounts of money. In a solvency crisis, companies can’t survive no matter how much they can borrow: they need more revenue. The Fed can’t solve that.” (Apr 30, 2020) So hunkering down and cost cutting will not be enough. IT WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT TO MAKE SALES IN A MATERIAL WAY!
- That the stock market is suffering high volatility. The bulls have left and the bears have taken their place. Some people are jumping to take advantage of 30% +-discounts. But investors in a corporation might get burnt if sales and collections don’t roar back sufficiently before it sinks in debt.
- That many high-rollers are now unable to do what they used do. On a personal level, some are having extreme problems. Indeed, a deluxe class pre-pandemic lifestyle then becomes a ball and chain fast creating an inability to meet obligations as they become due. To society at large, this means that such people can’t throw around huge mounds of disposable income, which would ordinarily filter down through the travel and leisure sector and the luxury goods space.
- That the various governments have been quick with short- term fixes, but more relief is needed in a direct way to those businesses and people, still not meeting program qualification and seeping through the cracks. Furthermore, the next big question will be whether the promised stimulus package will do the job of limiting the degree of economic contraction and sufficiently boosting economic activity in order to get us all out of the abyss.
2.2 FORECAST circumstances and trends in the future, short-term, intermediate and long-term. While you may not agree, I predict:
- That much of the old ways are gone. Of course, technology will be front and center. Today, more than ever, every business needs an online web presence plus social media access. And whether you like it or not, more often than naught, you’re going to hear, “There’s an app for that.” Accordingly, know that slow starters will pay a price!
- That in industry, corporations will reduce the ranks of middle management. With business-to-business buyers, selling/ordering conversations will now be carried on in a new way. Accordingly, business travel will decline. This will be a negative force upon hospitality.
- That it’s going to be tough for legacy businesses. While these firms worked pretty well in the past, there are big obstacles in the future. Of course, it’s difficult for such companies to change when the old ways have always given owners a good living.
- That the survivability of a business will be in doubt if it has mediocre merchandise or service, haphazardly sold and rendered. You see, mediocrity will no longer be tolerated. Instead, it’s a new economic world where ‘smarter, faster, better’ has never been more important. And those enterprises embracing this credo will likely rise to the ‘top tier’ in their respective sector.
- That if the claim to fame of your business was just low price, it’s probably going to slide. Beforehand, the problem might have been the competition and the threat of a price war. But today, cheap won’t be king for all customers. And extra expenses will cut your margins.
- That in summary, if your business is mature, (that is to say, older, fatter, inefficient, less competitive, etc.), already fighting a decline in sales, lost market share, etc, watch out. You’re in for a rude awakening.
- That regardless of the relaxing of the rules, cities opening up to the public and businesses re-opening, many people will still stay home in droves. This group will likely include many older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions and at higher risk for severe illness from COVID–19. This means that a significant segment of your former clientele may not return, be it now or in the near future. This is a bitter pill because these people already know your business, were loyal and did form a major part of your regular cash flow.
- That in retail, at least in the short term, exclusive exterior entrances are going to be more desirable. Indeed, for the time being at least, the advantages of being in a mall have been thrown out the window. In addition, separate, free standing may make a come back. For me, there’s going to be more destination shopping and online pre-ordering. To the negative on reopening, stores will face shoppers looking for summer, but overstocked with winter merchandise. On the positive side, I see an opportunity addressing people, looking to sidestep the line-up. Indeed, I believe that there will be a demand for a way to queue faster, get in/out and certain consumers will pay a premium for that advantage. And such could very well enable the profit spread of the future. It might work like “NEXUS,” the border system which is designed to speed up border crossings for low-risk, pre-approved travelers into Canada and the United States (U.S.). While not directly on point, it does provide a precedent and a format example. Another example is the “VIP priority entrance” concept of an American bank or the benefits of a membership-only warehouse club. Furthermore, I forecast that the personal shopper occupation will develop and usage by consumers will probably increase. It might be same-day help, but more likely, it will be on a repeat, monthly contract basis. And retailers will then give them priority as is done for contractors by big box home renovation stores.
- That with restaurants, business models must change. In past years, the separation between restaurant and grocery has blurred. This trend is reinforced in the immediate past with restaurants barring dining room service. I speculate that this division will further erode. When it comes to low-price fast food, over counter plexi-barriers, shall be commonplace along with staff face masks/shields, hats and gloves. Beyond hand sanitizing stations, get ready for outside window service (like with ice cream parlors) and much more stand-up eating. With intermediate price points, many people will opt for home delivery. And like it or not, there will likely be a surcharge for that. Seat spacing means reduced capacity – it might even require the imposition of a seating charge. Of course, there will be resistance, but the market is moving down that road. And now, contrary to past publicity, taking one’s own car may be safer than taking public transit. While drive through is slow, there are people who desire greater service like curb side take out and they might pay a little extra for that. In addition, parking (on-site or adjoining lots) is going to be very valuable. For restaurants with parking lots, and since people see personal security in their cars, I predict that we might see the return of in-car curb service, adapted from the 1950s model. For higher end, prices will go up. There are plenty of extra expenses. One example is a paper disposable menu. I see high-end eateries subdividing dining halls and areas for table service by building many private dining rooms for 10+- people and increasing their prices even more. I also see movers and shakers going out less for dinner, but instead, holding intimate dinner parties of 10 +-. And gourmet bistro owners might then offer in-home catering together with on-location server service.
- That consumers have changed their habits. Of course, on-line commerce will grow. As per the new order of business, I foresee that customer satisfaction will still be critical, but there shall be a difference. I suggest:
- That Job #1 will remain quality.
- That Job #2 will be super clean! You see, many customers shall be squeamish about every little thing. Indeed, they’re going to be attracted to a purveyor, offering a place being spotless, sanitized, disinfected and safe, in every which way! Such a client needs safety to the person beyond all else!
- That Job #3 will be allowing your customer to save time. This will be of particular interest to someone with money, desiring something, but with little patience and not prepared to wait for it.
“Welcome to your brand new business world.” Indeed, we’re all in uncharted territory. For me, it’s not just when we go back, it’s more… how we go back. And that my friend, will make your piece of the global economy for the immediate future, truly, “A Wild, Wild West!
Today’s Little Pep Talk.
Just so you know, my intent with this blog series is not just to provide you something of an overview of current programs and bankers’ initiatives, but also, to shake you up a bit so that you can make things happen business wise, better for yourself not just in the short term but also in the long term. So I say, “Change & move fast or get out of the way!”
Quotes of the week (business-wise).
If in business in Quebec in year 2020, here are a few wise statements to consider today:
- Miles Davis: “Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.”
- Henry Ford: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
- Albert Einstein: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”
- Wayne Gretzky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
Make today great. But don’t forget about yesterday. Indeed, it’s important to learn the lessons of times past. Then embrace tomorrow, and make it even greater!
― Best wishes to each of you and to your entire family.*
Allan J. Gold
Avocat/Barrister & Solicitor
NO 1 Wood Avenue Condominium
4055 ouest rue Ste. Catherine, suite 128(-A),
Westmount, Québec, Canada H3Z 3J8
Adresse électronique: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: (514) 849-1621; Fax: (514) 849-4664; Mobile: (514) 918-145
www.allanjgold.com ; Blog: https://allanjgold.com/blog-glm/
D. PREVIEW OF NEXT IN THE BUSINESS LAW BLOG SERIES.
I believe that with this blog series, I may have started you along the way to being more aware of the law for business. I will continue on with the subject of COVID-19: Economic relief measures announced to date / Allan Gold – For Independent business; Small And Medium Enterprises; SME; Petites et Moyennes Entreprises; PME; Family business – this on the topic of the CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC and the corresponding COVID-19 relief and funding programs, but more precisely as regards the need for a business reset resulting therefrom. Today, I covered the first two of my 10-Step Small/Family Business Reopening Plan for Founder-Owners*. Next time, continuing on, I shall cover legal matters, the retirement option, etc. Interested? Want to get more information about the current topic, or other areas of law written by an “avocat,” one of the family business law lawyers, family business lawyers Montreal, practicing also in the elder law field? See you next time. It won’t take too much time. Remember my byline – it’s “Gold’s Legal Minute*GLM*!” And please don’t forget to join my professional community by entering your e-mail at the prompt.*
E. NOTICE – CAUTION –DISCLAIMER.
The material provided herein is of a general nature, strictly for informational purposes. The interpretation and analysis is not to be misapplied to a personal situation with a particular set of facts. Under no circumstances, are the herein suggestions and tips, intended to bring a reader to the point of acting or not acting, but instead, the hope is that they are to be a cause for pause and reflection. It is specifically declared that this content is not to be a replacement of, or a substitution for, legal or any other appropriate advice. To the contrary, for more information on these presents, related subjects or any other questions, it is the express recommendation of the author that everyone seek out and consult a qualified professional or competent adviser.
*©/TM 2020, 2019, 2015-2018, Allan Gold, Practitioners’ Press Inc. – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
** ©/TM 2006, 2008, 2018 Allan Gold, Practitioners’ Practitioners’ Press Inc. – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED