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Coronavirus

Understanding and Solving Your Clients’ Business Needs in a Challenging Time

Michael Sonnenblick  

Michael Sonnenblick  

I know.  You’re a tax person.  But in this unprecedented pandemic that we are experiencing, you have to be more.  You have to be the trusted advisor that your clients actually see you as.  Your small and medium-sized clients are facing enormous pressure right now.  And it’s not just financial pressure from lost sales.  Your clients that have businesses that are open and running will be seeing disruptions to their workforce, supply chain, and a host of other issues.  In fact, your own business is probably facing the same issues.  In order to serve your clients better, and perhaps yourself too, below is a list of business issues that the Small Business Administration has compiled.  And some links to SBA programs that might offer solutions to those issues.

Capital Access – The coronavirus pandemic is straining small businesses’ financial capacity to make payroll, maintain inventory, and respond to market fluctuations (both sudden drops and surges in demand). The SBA has some loan programs that can help with that.  See SBA’s capital access resources.

Workforce Capacity – The global pandemic has just as much impact on your workers as they do your clientele. It’s critical to ensure they have the ability to fulfill their duties while protected.

Inventory and Supply Chain Shortfalls – It is a prudent preparedness measure to ensure you have either adequate supplies of inventory for a sustained period and/or diversify your distributor sources in the event one supplier cannot meet an order request.

Facility Remediation/Clean-up Costs – There is a need to enhance the protection of customers and staff by increasing the frequency and intensity by which your business conducts cleaning of surfaces frequently touched by occupants and visitors. Check your maintenance contracts and supplies of cleaning materials to ensure they can meet increases in demand.

Insurance Coverage Issues – Many businesses have business interruption insurance. Now is the time to contact your insurance agent to review your policy to understand precisely what you are and are not covered for in the event of an extended incident.

Changing Market Demand – Three quarters of the US population is now under some type of government-ordered quarantine.  Quite simply, your customers are being impeded from reaching your business. Additionally, there may be public concerns about public exposure to the virus and they may decide not to go to your business out of concern of exposing themselves to greater risk. SBA’s Resources Partners and District Offices have trained experts who can help you craft a plan specific to your situation to help navigate any rapid changes in demand.

Marketing – It’s critical to communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you’ve implemented, and how they (as customers) will be protected when they visit your business. Promotions may also help incentivize customers who may be reluctant to patronize your business.

Plan – As a business, bring your staff together and prepare a plan for what you will do if the incident worsens or improves. It’s not too late.  It’s also helpful to conduct a tabletop exercise to simulate potential scenarios and how your business management and staff might respond to the hypothetical scenario in the exercise. For examples of tabletop exercises, visit FEMA’s emergency planning exercise website.

 

About the Author – Michael Sonnenblick, J.D., LL.M., is a Senior Editor/Author for Thomson Reuters Checkpoint.  Michael holds a J.D. degree from Boston University School of Law and an LL.M. in Taxation from New York University Law School. A member of the New York Bar, he has over 20 years of tax experience, including service with a major Wall Street bank and international law firms. In addition, he has represented clients before the IRS.