Christmas cheer aside, here’s how to help your clients start 2022 right
As the end of another challenging year approaches, it’s tempting to send out good wishes and hope for a fresh start in 2022. But instead of hope, how can you help your clients plan for a more prosperous and predictable year ahead?
According to a recent PracticeWeb and Insight 101 report, communication skills rate as the number one characteristic SMEs want in an accountant in the wake of COVID-19 – so now’s the perfect opportunity to hone your communication skills and impart some end-of-year wisdom.
Here’s what to tell your clients as they head into another year of business:
Undertake a financial health assessment
Encouraging your clients to undertake a financial health check or a more thorough independent review is a great place to start, as it places a business in the best possible position to navigate the year ahead. Many businesses may have already reduced discretionary and non-essential expenses, but stopping, reflecting and assessing these at year-end can have a significant impact. With the help of an accountant or business advisor, they should be able to spot potential savings they may not have considered, such as costs (e.g. insurance) that can be spread out over a year rather than paid as a lump sum.
Embrace the cloud
If a business isn’t already using cloud-based services, getting systems up and running for the new year should be a priority. Cloud systems ensure that the business can keep running, even if lockdowns or other restrictions make it difficult to come into the office.
The details will depend on the business, but options include storing records in Dropbox or another cloud storage device, running virtual audits or through Zoom, using cloud accounting software or even switching to a completely cloud-based business management platform. Of course, some of these choices are more complex and costly than others – it’s about looking at a range of options and working out what will be most helpful for a specific business.
Consolidate online offerings
We’ve all scrambled to get our products and services online, as what was planned to be a gradual digital transformation was forced to happen almost overnight. While that responsive entrepreneurial spirit is something to be applauded, it’s now important for businesses to stop and take stock of how this has worked for them and how to move forward.
This could mean assessing new overheads involved in eCommerce such as an increase in product returns, shipping costs or online advertising, making sure that any apps and sales platforms are delivering and streamlining processes that may have been created in a rush.
Amplify the good
With 87% of consumers reading online reviews for local businesses and almost 30% of the global population shopping online in 2021, it pays to make the most of any positive feedback or reviews. For your clients, this could be as simple as requesting reviews on Google or their websites, or as complex as recording video testimonials or writing case studies. Whatever is involved, putting positives to work can have a significant impact on the bottom line.
Practice what you preach – don’t forget to encourage your clients to give you feedback too!
While it can be nerve-wracking to make pricing changes amid a global pandemic, inflation hasn’t slowed. If some of your clients haven’t updated prices in the last 12 months but have changed the way they operate, they could be undercharging and subjecting their businesses to unnecessary strain. Encourage them to get help from an accountant, so they can review the prices of products and services, meet the market and factor in any operational changes.
Forecast for a range of scenarios
With more than a degree of uncertainty ahead, it’s never been more important to forecast for all four seasons. Urge your clients to factor in things like domestic and international border closures, lockdowns and supply issues, and how these will impact their businesses. While no one has a crystal ball for the year ahead, planning for different scenarios will help businesses maximise growth and ride out difficult periods.
Don’t forget to keep track – forecasting shouldn’t be set-and-forget, so ensure your clients can easily track key performance indicators. This could be looking at sales, the value of orders or cash balance – which will allow them to identify trends and react accordingly.
Businesses that have pivoted or experienced a decline as a result of COVID-19 may need to reassess their human resourcing. This could mean changes to the roles required or a reduction in staff numbers. If any restructuring needs to take place, they need to be sure to bring in specialist support.
Reflect, reassess and act. But don’t forget to recharge
The Christmas and New Year period is always a time of personal reflection, and it should be equally one of reflection for businesses. It’s an important time for businesses to consolidate changes that have been made through the year, keeping hold of those that have served them well and refining and reassessing those that haven’t. It’s also an opportunity for business owners to take a break, recharge and dive into 2022 reinvigorated with the knowledge (and your guidance) to tackle whatever the new year throws their way!
Looking for more ways to communicate with your clients? Talk to BOMA for help.