When a global crisis like Covid-19 arises, how can you put your best foot forward as a business owner? Is there a way to maintain your business’ success? We spoke to Chris Collard of FinancePath about how he’s faced these challenging times and come through stronger than ever.
How has Finance Path reacted to the crisis over these past few months?
As soon as we became aware of the impacts of Covid-19, we got on the front foot, taking a proactive approach to our communication. We created a number of resources including a Financial Hardship Hub on our website, which we’ve continued to update with new information as it emerged for our clients, with FAQs pointing them in the right direction.
Our focus in the first month was about making sure we were available and a single point of contact for our clients, and taking away any uncertainty for them. As a result of this proactive communication, we found that inbound calls reduced dramatically. People were utilising our online resources, which was fantastic!
After the initial first month we could divert our resources into proactive conversations with our clients. We wanted to know what impact the pandemic was having on them, and what we could do to support them.
Off the back of this proactive communication, we identified opportunities to help them. The benefit associated with getting back in touch with our clients was that we discovered new business opportunities, so we actually had to hire more people to manage the workload.
What’s been the hardest part for you?
It’d be fair to say that we’ve seen as much change in lending policy over the past three to six months as we have in the last five years. This crisis is new to funders, and they’re interpreting these changes on-the-run, so we’ve had to adapt to that. It’s been challenging keeping up with it all.
This rapid change in the lending landscape has also meant we’ve needed to make sure that the advice we provided our clients a few months ago is still relevant.
In any crisis comes opportunity and we have tried to identify ways in which we can improve our business to make us more efficient while improving our service delivery. One big win has been our funders allowing us to adopt new technologies. Face-to-face meetings haven’t been an option, so we’ve been able to implement digital signatures and conference call appointments to verify clients, all of which has helped us operate more efficiently during this time, while keeping clients and staff safe.
What are your tips for managing times of crisis as a business?
1. Be proactive
In the first couple of weeks, FinancePath worked hard to let people know we were still here, we were available and if we didn’t have the answer, we’d seek it out. We actively provided our clients with information in the first month, directed people to our Financial Hardship Hub, and took a proactive approach to our communication, knowing lots of our clients would be feeling uneasy and unsure about things.
2. Think before reacting
We held off on putting off any of our staff or reducing hours until we understood the impact. Our team appreciated that we wanted to try and maintain a level of business as usual until we could access the impact fully. Instead, we put people to work creating resources and supporting our clients, and that resulted in work ramping up with new opportunities so we had to actually hire more people.
3. Rethink how things are done
We identified this time as an opportunity to improve the way we did things. You have to do that when things are shaken up the way they have been. You have to adopt technology, you have to be flexible, and you have to understand that a new way of doing things can lead to surprising outcomes.
4. Be flexible
Allowing staff to working from home at first can seem daunting to many business owners. Some might feel like they lose control, but it’s only perceived control. It’s proven to be fantastic for us. Our team has been more efficient and has embraced technology as a result. We have introduced 15-minute team huddles on conference call each morning so people can set their goals for the day, stay on track and stay connected to the team
How is FinancePath bracing itself for the future?
While we’re in a very good position right now, we may see the impacts more clearly in about six months’ time. We’re fortunate in that we have a number of lead sources. We’re not one hundred percent reliant on any one market in our space. We don’t specifically rely on investors, first home buyers or construction etc., so we’re insulated from a downturn in any particular market or client type.
As far as we’re concerned, the outlook for FinancePath is strong, but we’ve seen significant impacts in other industries like hospitality and travel, with some of our clients impacted significantly. For us, it’s “wait and see” until September rolls around, JobKeeker stops and mortgage payment pauses come to an end. We’re working hard to address these future concerns with our clients now, because we know September will be here before we know it.
If you’re feeling uncertain about your future, we’d love to help. Get in touch with our team for a free chat about your career or business trajectory.