- March 25, 2020
Paul Fioravanti, managing partner of Naples-based Qadent Management Services and a business turnaround specialist, says one of the common themes he’s finding among smaller business owners in the COVID-19 crisis is a lack of creativity. One example: they may not be aware of the opportunity to negotiate with lenders and other constituents. “I think creativity is a good thing when it comes to businesses of all sizes to manage expense realities,” says Fioravanti.
Fioravanti's firm recently shared a strategy with businesses called the “Six C’s.” The idea, he says, is COVID-19 presents challenges resulting in chaos and crisis. “What you need,” he says, “is control.” Companies can regain some control by focusing on six elements: managing cash, costs, credit, communications, continuity of core operations and customer expectations.
Another key to getting though this time is what Fioravanti calls the “art of the pivot.” Businesses that have quickly adapted have fared better than those slow to adapt. He cites Publix introducing unidirectional traffic in aisles as an example of a quick, positive shift to manage human movement inside the retail environment. Smaller retailers and restaurants have also made moves to keep customers flowing, including curbside pickup.
Communication is another key. “In times of crisis, sometimes people shut down and withdraw, but that’s the time to be proactive and reach out to your customers and all the stakeholders you have in your business,” he says. One tip? Create a frequently asked questions document that anticipates what people might ask.
The crisis, he says, also calls for taking a page out of the “prepper” playbook. A prepper — someone who prepares for future disasters — is usually thought of on an individual level. “But businesses have to adopt a little bit of a prepper attitude,” Fioravanti says. “What are my weak points in my system? Play the what-if scenarios.”