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Business need to stay ahead of the curve

While many are talking about ‘flattening the curve’ this year, London & Zurich are encouraging you to stay ahead of it through the Covid-19 economic recovery.

It’s widely accepted that recovery is going to be a gradual and long process. So implementing everyday changes now could help your accountancy business – and your clients – be better placed in the longer term, too.

Keep up-to-date

It should go without saying that you need to stay up-to-date with the latest information to support your clients and your own business.

Make sure you know the knock-on effects of national government changes on the services you provide and the implications for your workload.

Share your financial insights with your customers so you become a trusted source for them. Make sure you know how the latest changes around VAT and payment terms will need to be implemented by your customers.

Some accountants have carried out online webinars – free and open to any business, to help them understand the ever-changing situation. As well as keeping you at the forefront of their minds, this is a great way to attract new clients.

Embrace the technology

London & Zurich help clients from multiple sectors manage their payments, including accountants and accountancy firms. We’ve already observed that some sectors such as telecommunications, IT, software and some companies operating in the finance space have seen less impact, and this is likely to be because they were better equipped to meet some of the challenges.

Being able to quickly implement remote working using secure networks, and being set up to take online and automated payments, have proved clear advantages.

London & Zurich have already seen an increased demand from businesses who want to be able to take payments online and have helped them understand their options and what is the best and most cost-effective option for them.

A particular challenge has been where secure card payments have not been possible because staff are working remotely. Here London & Zurich have been able to provide solutions through online payment portals, with different features for one-off payment, recurring payments and Direct Debit payments.

The implementation of these payment solutions has minimised time spent on admin and data management, and businesses can now provide a more flexible approach to their customers when accepting payments for their product or service.

New customer relationships

Your relationship with customers can be under pressure during difficult times. Some businesses may still not have re-opened and changing operating practices may mean it’s harder to stay in touch. But it is so important that you make efforts to. Your clients may need you more than ever, but you will need to make sure they come to you for help when they need to.

That could mean communicating in different ways. You can probably identify clients who may be more in need of your help and you need to ensure you are as accessible as ever, even if you can’t see them face to face.

London & Zurich’s robust support service has been critical during this pandemic especially to its large accountancy client base. For example, as well having a dedicated team available via phone and email London & Zurich have introduced a new customer dashboard for their clients to send over specific requests for the team to respond to in a timely fashion.

Radical thinking

Covid-19 has caused the most major disruption most businesses will ever have seen, so this may mean you have to think about larger-scale change, too.

Many SMEs are now considering whether they need offices at all, as remote working proves to be effective and cost-saving for them. Others may be looking to move sales online only, or the opposite – focusing more on their local market exclusively.

Maybe you feel the future of your business is in a more specialist field and the last few months have provided proof of concept for you. Be clear in what you are trying to achieve though and have a sound and costed plan of action.

There’s a good chance that any large-scale changes will rely on having good cash flow. Consider implementing any new digital payment platforms early doors, to future-proof your processes, ensure your customers are already comfortable with it and allow payments to continue being taken seamlessly.

Reaching out

If you’re struggling with your own bills, there are a number of government initiatives in the form of grants and loans such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, business rate relief and other schemes, such as HMRC’s ‘Time to Pay’ initiative.

But just like you want your own customers to turn to you when they need support, the key is to ask for help early. There may be a delay in getting financial assistance, or you may need to fill out extra paperwork that will all add time pressures. Don’t wait until the wolf is at the door before you get the support you need.

• Thanks to London & Zurich for this article. To find out more about payment solutions and other financial related content visit London & Zurich at www.londonandzurich.co.uk.

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