Nancy Jalbert
Partner | CPA, CA | Management consulting

Social distancing measures are considerably changing how businesses operate, regardless of the type of business.

Your business will gradually resume following the government-imposed hold but your day-to-day will be different.

You must now worry about certain rules that you would never have thought of.

  • How can your business adapt while minimizing the impact on your sales?
  • How can you provide a secure environment for your employees and clients and remain competitive?

We’re here to help you identify the best solutions for you.

Adapting your operational model

In the past few weeks, some businesses have been put on hold, some are able to work from home and others have had to adjust their processes due to social distancing, and introduce stricter health measures.

Businesses must plan for a progressive return, taking into account the impacts of the new parameters. This plan must include both permanent and transitory measures.

Here are some things to reflect on:

  • Analyzing your operational model;
  • Analyzing your operational capacity;
  • Identifying your breakeven point and reviewing your production costs.

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Analyzing your operational model

How can you organize your factory, business or offices to practise social distancing? Can you carry on the way you did before the crisis? You need to review the sequence of operations and how work shifts are assigned. And you must ensure employee safety by reassessing your facilities layout and providing protective equipment. All of those factors will have an impact on your operational processes which should be redesigned to ensure safety, efficiency and effectiveness.

In the long run, it will be important to think about implementing process automation and integrating technologies to your operations. When reviewing your business activities, consider the shift to 4.0 or digital transformation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a great deal of changes and you should rethink your operational model and allow your business to adapt. Set new business goals with those changes in mind. Make informed decisions and take advantage of every opportunity. Dare to innovate!

Analyzing your operational capacity

How are social distancing measures affecting your ability to serve your clients and your production capacity?

In this context, it’s important to examine the impact on the business’ value chain. If social distancing diminishes your operational capacity, find out how client delivery timelines and the client experience are being affected. You might also have to readjust your production planning parameters, especially if they are integrated to your computer systems.

You can resolve this issue by identifying alternative solutions to improve your capacity and meet demand. Assess the costs of these solutions and calculate the return on investment of any changes or additions you need to make.

Identifying your breakeven point and reviewing your production costs

Production capacity has an impact on how a business’ fixed costs are absorbed. Seeing that your costs will be adjusted, calculating your breakeven point can help you determine your new cost absorption capacity. Any changes to your operations will influence your costs. Past production costs may no longer be accurate and they will have an impact on your gross margin or sales prices. Running a cost analysis is key to ensuring your business’ long-term profitability.

Our experts are here to help you identify the impacts of social distancing measures on your business and offer solutions. Every business is unique and there are plenty of solutions. With Solutions for SMEs, you have access to concrete, customized tools that will allow you to adapt to the current context while focusing on your business objectives.

We can help you stay on track!

27 Apr 2020  |  Written by :

Nancy Jalbert is a partner at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. She is your expert in strategic and...

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Wayne Tessier
General Manager | Auray Sourcing | Human resources consulting

In these times of disruption and social distancing, many challenges loom for foreign workers and their employers.

1. Work permit applications

The pandemic has caused a slowdown of many business and government services worldwide. As a result, some temporary foreign workers are struggling to gather documents required for their work permit applications.

Passport renewals, police reports and official document translations are now difficult to obtain and may complicate entry into Canada for foreign workers. Making sure that workers have the documents required to apply for a work permit has become critical for employers.

2. Travel to airports

Confinement and travel restrictions in certain countries may make it hard for workers to get to the airport. Despite having all the authorizations required to travel to Canada, workers could have trouble leaving their country simply because inter-regional transportation is less frequent or limited. Employers will need to help manage departure logistics and provide their workers with documentary evidence to facilitate travel to the airport.

3. Self-isolation

Upon their arrival in Canada, temporary foreign workers are required to self-isolate for 14 days. In Québec, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec has issued highly restrictive recommendations in this regard. Employers are responsible for implementing measures prior to worker arrival, such as limiting occupancy to two per room, disinfecting facilities daily, posting health recommendations in the workers’ language and monitoring workers for symptoms.

4. Social distancing on work sites

Health recommendations continue to apply on work sites even after the 14-day self-isolation period. Workers must wash their hands frequently and stay at least two metres apart from each other. To allow them to respect social distancing requirements, employers may need to adjust their operations.

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5. Costs

The costs of transportation between the airport and work site, 14-day self-isolation with pay and sometimes even the plane ticket will be borne by the employer. The federal government announced $50 million to help farmers and food producers offset these costs.

COVID-19 has created a real headache for businesses awaiting the arrival of temporary foreign workers. Having a solid strategy to ensure a seamless immigration process for foreign labour is now more important than ever, and will help employers minimize administrative delays and avoid some of these challenges.

24 Apr 2020  |  Written by :

Wayne Tessier is an international recruiting expert at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. Contact him...

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In 2014, a large-scale BDC survey identified financial management as the second most important challenge for Canadian business leaders. The good news is that today, in 2020, entrepreneurs have access to a wide variety of tools that can make their lives easier and help them handle their own accounting.

With accurate and up-to-date information, decision-makers can keep their plans for the future on track and prepare for headwinds. This will be especially crucial as Canadian businesses navigate recovery in the uncertain months ahead.

Here are three key reasons why:

1. Accessing cash

The situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted areas of improvement in the way many small businesses in Québec handle their finances. Often set aside for lack of time or knowledge, cash flow management is particularly critical when applying for an emergency loan or other support measures related to the crisis.

To keep their business running and carry it forward, many entrepreneurs may find themselves having to take a step back during this stressful time to get a clear understanding of their financial situation and evaluate their contingency plan and develop predictive scenarios. This will allow them to put their best foot forward to obtain financial assistance quickly from their bank or government and ensure a favourable business recovery.

As most business managers have recognized, sound daily financial management has become increasingly important in these challenging times.

2. Rethinking business models

The message from Québec leaders is clear: to remain sustainable, businesses will need to adapt to the new realities brought on by the pandemic. In a time of social distancing, virtualization and supply chain disruptions, many companies will have to rethink their business model from the ground up to be profitable in the medium term.

Entrepreneurs will need to ask themselves what operations, products and services are actually profitable. They’ll need to monitor their results very closely, evaluate returns on investment and be ready to quickly adjust their strategy. Having a clear vision of their finances will be critical in this context.

3. Securing business partners, or finding new ones

A few months from now, the entrepreneurial landscape will have changed completely. There will be mergers, acquisitions and strategic alliances as entrepreneurs strive to keep their businesses afloat. To ensure transparent communication and bring deals to the closing table, entrepreneurs will need to provide accurate numbers to current or future business partners.

Entrepreneurs should therefore start implementing sound financial management practices right now. Simple online technologies can help those who lack time for accounting tasks make sure they have proper systems in place to manage their budget.

Our experts offer an affordable, cloud-based solution, supported by our affiliate Operio, to help entrepreneurs bring their vision for their business to life.

To support your recovery, Operio is offering three months of use at no charge. Use the RELANCE  code at the time of purchase.

You may qualify for a subsidy under the Programme actions concertées pour le maintien en emploi (PACME) program for coaching when you migrate your financial data. Contact us for more information.

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COVID-19 has considerably transformed the economy and the systems in place. What if this crisis helped you reinvent yourself?

Businesses have been seeing major changes for a few weeks now and they can expect to see more in the next months. Your competitors and business partners will adapt; some will disappear. Your employees will have to get used to new processes and you’ll have to find ways to keep them engaged. Technology will continue to play an ever-important role.

Your clients’ needs and their consumer behaviours will assuredly change in the wake of this crisis. In this context, will your current business model still work for you? Here are a few things to think about.

The context has changed, so have your clients

Let’s face the facts: this crisis will change your clients and their consumer habits will evolve. They will even perhaps turn to some of your competitors for a more crisis-adapted offer. Even their needs and expectations won’t be the same.

Clients who would have previously shopped for a bargain will now value product sourcing, safety, hygiene and availability above all else. Perhaps you’ll welcome new clients with a much different profile, but would like to keep them post-COVID-19.

Know your clientele

Get to know your clients by talking to them, surveying them and assessing their consumer habits. Don’t rely on your historical data—they no longer reflect the current situation and the new era we’re entering.

Whether through a survey or a short questionnaire when you receive an order or individual calls, you can gather information on your clients’:

  • Current and new needs in the wake of the crisis;
  • Concerns about your offer post-COVID-19;
  • Expectations regarding how you do business and communicate with them post-COVID-19;
  • New consumer habits for products and services like yours.

Take a look at their shopping carts and orders to see what has changed and which products and services are in high demand and which ones are not.

These analyses will help you retarget your offers and build a new client segment from your existing clientele (some may have switched from B2B to B2C mode). That way, you can adapt your communication and distribution channels, potentially leading into the digital transformation of the client journey.

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Evaluating the client journey and its digital transformation

Until today, customer relationships under various business models relied first and foremost on face-to-face interactions. People were at the heart of product sales and service delivery. The COVID-19 crisis, business closures, teleworking and the rise of online shopping have drastically reshaped those dynamics.

What will come out of this situation is that consumers will adopt new purchasing behaviours and resort more and more to digital channels to buy their goods and services. The crisis will speed up the digital transformation of businesses. Human interaction will prevail but it will no longer play as big a role.

You must therefore redefine the client journey by identifying your points of client contact, including at the information gathering, delivery and after-sale service stages. You can then find out how the digital transformation can optimize their experience and create value before, during and after their purchase.

Ask yourself these questions to better understand your client journey and how the digital experience fits in:

  • How do your clients want to be reached?
  • How have their consumer habits evolved?
  • How do they currently contact you, be it physically or virtually? (Your best strategy is a multichannel strategy.)
  • Based on their needs, how can you diversify your points of contact?

Consider all of the steps involved in service delivery, research and after-sales:

  • Before the purchase (website, social networks, referrers, Google Ads, etc.);
  • During the purchase (transactional website, email, online chat, etc.);
  • After the purchase (follow-up, website survey, etc.).

While the digital transformation can contribute to diversifying your revenues and improving operational efficiency, it should not be at the expense of the client experience.

Digitalization strategies are not just transaction-focused; they also allow you to drive client commitment and foster relationships and partnerships.

What about your operations?

Delve a little deeper to find out how you can adapt your activities to your clients’ needs. It might make sense to modify your offer and processes, integrate new technological tools, review your supply chain management, develop new partnerships and monetize your products and services.

Social distancing will continue for a while longer—it will disrupt how you do business and it will create new client habits. Consider the potential impacts.

Here are some important questions that will help you further your analysis and steer your business model in the right direction:

Product or service offer

  • Should you develop new services or products using your current assets to meet client needs?
  • Should you adapt your current offer?
  • Should you trim your current offer and focus on more promising products or services in the medium and long terms?

Supply chain

  • Should you review your supply chain to improve its efficiency in the current context?
  • Are there any options that were previously irrelevant but would now be worth considering?

Suppliers and partners

  • Should you opt for new partners and suppliers to promote or deliver your offer while meeting new client needs?

Resources and workforce

  • Do you have the resources (material, human, technological) to support the changes to your operations?

Payments

  • Should you monetize your offer differently?
  • Can you issue your invoices and accept payments differently?

As you review your business model, those are the factors to consider. It will help you redefine your business so that, ultimately, you’ll be better equipped to overcome future challenges resulting from changes to the social and economic environments.

Our strategic experts are here to support you through this crucial step as you resume your business activities.