“What will things look like when this all behind us?” That is the question many manufacturers have been asking themselves for the last several weeks, ever since the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic fully took its grip and brought extraordinary levels of disruptions to everyone’s personal and business life—disruptions we continue to deal with every day.
The truth is much of what lies ahead with the disease—when it will peak, when it may finally subside, whether or not it may come back again—remains largely speculative, if not unknown. And no business ever wants to deal with the unknown.
But there is one factor known among manufacturers that could help to pave the way for a more certain future. If nothing else, manufacturing businesses know themselves—their capabilities, their strengths, their challenges and their strategies. And as they take this time to consider possible ways to reshape themselves, both in the immediate present and into the future, this one certainty could be the key to turning things around.
In a recent article in Forbes entitled, “How to Reinvent Your Business to Thrive After the Coronavirus,” author Ted Ladd made this observation: “Reinvention can be subtle. You could keep most of your core operations to deliver most of your core value to customers and tweak a few pieces of your business.” We are seeing that right now with manufacturers shifting gears, literally, in the production of much-needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during this crisis, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that dramatic a shift right now. What is most important now, as companies manage for today and plan for tomorrow, is a close look at the entire operation, which should yield multiple ideas on new directions for the future.
Again, when we start with the premise that no one understands a manufacturing business better than that company’s leaders themselves, taking a close look at every aspect of the business to help determine future direction makes all the sense in the world. Open every part of the business for examination—research and development, design, production, marketing, supply chain and delivery—to determine where the next logical step might be. Are there products and services that could become a natural part of the company’s evolution? Is there workforce flexibility and know-how that could lead to seamless integration of a new service line? Were there lessons learned from navigating this crisis that potentially created new opportunities? No one can better determine this than the business leaders, because no one has better access to the data and information needed.
It is important to note, however, that a thorough examination of every aspect of the business is in order to gauge potential new opportunities. Customer and employee needs must be kept front of mind. So does a strategic plan for growth and revenue streams, all human resource considerations and all necessary resources. This is a time for a deep dive that will require creativity and vision—involving key areas. Will it take some work? Certainly. But if done correctly, it could make this current crisis more than just something for the business to endure—it could turn into a major win for organizations.
As the weeks pass, we will hopefully receive more clarity as to when this crisis may finally begin to lessen and when some sense of “normal” could start to return. But for now, with so much still uncertain, manufacturers should take that close, detailed look and reaffirm the one certainty they truly have—their business, and what it has the capacity to put in place for the next exciting chapter.
Christie Bluhm, CPA, is a partner with blumshapiro, the largest regional business advisory firm based in New England, with offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Virginia. The firm, with a team of over 500, offers a diversity of services, which include auditing, accounting, tax and business advisory services. blum serves a wide range of privately held companies, government, education and non-profit organizations and provides non-audit services for publicly traded companies. To learn more visit us at blumshapiro.com.