Professional Services: Post-Pandemic and the New Normal

The pandemic lockdowns led to many professional service firms closing doors and, wherever possible, moving staff to home offices in anticipation of a temporary mode of operation. One year later, however, health safety concerns and economic uncertainty are still prevalent, prompting firms to think about a “new normal” post-COVID-19. This article covers some important points to consider as the economy begins to recover.

Cash Flow and Liquidity

If the past year has proven anything, it’s that fiscal resilience is imperative, and that likely isn’t changing anytime soon. Preserve cash, review capital investments, and cuts costs where possible.

Things to consider when thinking about cash flow:

  • Assess works in progress and make any necessary changes or improvements in the areas of management and billing.
  • Review and improve upon, if necessary, your accounts receivable system
  • Analyze upcoming projects with a keen eye to scaling back on staffing, keeping in mind the risk of potentially losing key workers and talent.
  • With social distancing guidelines in mind (and not knowing what the future looks like in regards to this), aim to reduce costs by reassessing real estate needs, existing office space, and places where you might be able to consolidate. This is especially important if some or all of your staff will be switching to permanent remote work model.

Things to consider when thinking about liquidity:

  • Work out an agreement with leases. If your firm is in a financial position to remain in your current space, think about negotiating your lease renewal early and possibly extending it. Depending on circumstances and the current state of your space, you could approach discussions by offering free or reduced rent in exchange for tenant improvements.
  • Review your lease for tenant improvements. If your lease provides an allowance for tenant improvements, it may be possible to negotiate the elimination of that allowance in exchange for the cash value or rent credit.
  • Rent relief may be an option. Typically handled on a case-by-case basis, financial statements may be required to determine need.

New Opportunities and Growth

If your firm is in the position to be able to jump on new opportunities as they become available, don’t delay. Once your cash flow, liquidity, integrated technologies, and business processes are in good standing, develop a game plan for organic growth and expansion into new areas, including acquisition. Be mindful of how the increased demand that comes with growth can potentially burden each department, and have a plan in place to deal with the increased demand.

You’ve likely had to lay off or furlough valuable workers over the last year. If staffing shortage has prevented you from exploring new ideas and establishing new business practices, check the state of your cash flow and liquidity to see if now might be the time to expand your organization’s talent and expertise.

IT and Communication

With a year of pandemic life behind us, you probably have a good idea of how to move your firm forward in the future. If a remote working model has worked for all or part of your staff, you might decide to make it permanent. Be sure that your IT and cybersecurity infrastructure are up to date. Also evaluate methods of communication so that staff can easily and securely communicate with clients and each other.

Whether or not you foresee changes brought on by the pandemic as affecting lasting change to your business, one thing remains true: the key to success and growth is knowing the specifics and statistics of your organization in order to make wise decisions that will optimize business outcomes.