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You’re Not Alone: Dealing with the COVID-19 Crisis
What we are experiencing with COVID-19 is unprecedented. Clearly, we are in unchartered waters where the immediate and downstream implications for you (our clients) and your staff and patients are difficult to comprehend and measure.
We share your pain and want to be a resource you can count on now and in the future. For practice leaders, your team will be looking for you to demonstrate your strong and effective leadership. Based on my experience managing through periods of distress and change, below are several suggestions on how to navigate this crisis.
- Remain calm. Now more than ever your team is counting on you to avoid being reactive. Remain positive and consider embracing one of my favorite comments from my late and great partner and friend Lisa Peltier: “We can do this.”
- Engage your key stakeholders in assessing the current situation and developing a plan of action. Identify the “right” members of your team who have the fabric, attitude, and smarts to help manage this planning process.
- Be decisive. This is not a time to be uncertain or vague. None of us has the answers or a playbook we can go to. Trust your instincts and your core team to guide your decision-making.
- Show compassion. One of the great gifts of outstanding leaders is their ability to be empathetic, especially during times of crisis.
- Communicate in clear and concise terms. Although we don’t — and likely won’t — have all the answers, messaging should be in small, bite-size pieces. Your team and patients are being bombarded with so much information right now. By being focused and clear in communicating your priorities, you will bring some comfort and support to your employees and patients.
- Be honest but hopeful. This is not a time to hide behind the truth. Be open and transparent in sharing relevant information but also reinforce a message of hope that includes a return to normalcy as the country works to contain the spread of this virus.
- Ask for flexibility and accommodation from your team. The world as we once knew it has changed. This change will create opportunity if team members are adaptable and flexible, which, as we know, is more challenging when the path forward is unclear and uncertain.
- Ask for flexibility and accommodation from your suppliers and service providers. Extended payment terms and modifications to loan agreements should be explored.
- Scrutinize every line item of expense on your income statement and take action to eliminate any non-essential spend. Be sure to check and review every invoice to make sure you are not releasing funds you may otherwise need for payroll and other essentials.
- Remember that during a time of crisis, you need to focus on preserving cash flow while also identifying sources of cash (e.g. bank lines of credit and loans or capital contributions from the business owners).
Developing a Plan Forward
We acknowledge that the path forward for you will be impacted by many factors, including geographic area of the practice, availability of testing, the rate of new COVID-19 cases, as well as state and federal government intervention and guidance. Additionally, we recognize that the financial position of your practice and its owners will also impact various elements of your plan. Be as thoughtful as you can.
As you develop your plan, please take comfort in knowing that we, at BSM, have a plan that is already in effect. Below are highlights of what we are doing to accommodate our clients and employees while addressing this crisis.
- We have appointed a task force comprised of key stakeholders in the organization. Their primary responsibility is to protect the safety, security, and stability of our work environment while taking immediate steps to support our clients. These will be shared with our clients in the coming days.
- We are evaluating changes to our service offerings to address current and relevant needs of our clients.
- We have implemented a mandatory work-from-home policy.
- We are leveraging technology to facilitate and enhance our team and client communications.
- We are implementing regular town hall teleconferences so team members know exactly what we are doing in real time.
- We have developed a 13-week cash flow forecast. This tool will guide our daily decision-making.
- We are focused on preserving cash while maintaining stability for our workforce. To this end, we are implementing and considering many different options, including, but not limited to:
- Possible reduction in work hours for non-exempt employees,
- Elimination or reduction in non-essential but controllable fixed overhead expenses, and
- Re-prioritizing internal development projects that can be delayed without significant business implications.
With that said, know that we are here for you. Be safe, stay healthy, and know that we will keep you apprised of our efforts as this situation unfolds.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: We’ve developed a dedicated resource page to provide our valued clients with helpful advice and tips to navigate this crisis.