Leaders have been forced to reevaluate operations in the face of COVID-19. As newly-minted business owners navigating a global pandemic, we’ve seen firsthand how quickly decisions needed to be made. Since switching to 100% virtual operations on March 13, our FrazierHeiby leadership team has been constantly assessing how we’ve historically worked and navigating our staff through necessary changes. From technology tools to internal processes to client experience, everything has been on the table.
It’s clear that things are not returning to “normal.” Business operations must change — the sooner organizations accept and adapt to that reality, the greater their chances of survival. Here are some examples and key considerations for industries experiencing massive disruption due to COVID-19.
Ohio’s number one industry has been stuck in a multi-year season of turmoil. Ohio’s net farm income has fallen more than 50% since 2013 and additional pressures from the weather to market instability and, now, to COVID-19 have left agriculture teetering on the brink.
Last year’s heavy rains decimated spring planting prospects across the country. In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine took an unprecedented step and petitioned the USDA to declare all 88 counties an agricultural disaster area.
Recent restaurant closures and changes in consumer habits have led to the dumping of millions of gallons of milk and other produce. And the shuttering of meat processing plants will have repercussions throughout the entire supply chain.
Reduced driving among consumers has crushed demand for fuel, including corn-grown ethanol that is mixed with gasoline to create standard unleaded 87 and 88. This may accelerate the pace of transition from fossil to renewables fuels, disrupting many jobs in the process.
Combined, these new pressures on agriculture will force significant industry-wide changes. Organizations that support the industry will have to adapt and diversify their funding models to ensure financial viability over the long term.
It’s hard to understate the impact a viral outbreak like COVID-19 has on the healthcare industry. The suspension of elective surgeries will create serious near-term cash flow challenges. Despite Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s recent announcement that such procedures can resume, nearly a month of lost revenue has the potential to devastate small providers and health systems.
Spurred by social distancing restrictions, the shift to telemedicine visits in lieu of in-person appointments will have long standing impacts on the industry. Experts estimate that COVID-19 accelerated wide adoption of telemedicine in China by five years. What is yet to be seen is the impact this shift will have on what providers will charge (and what insurance companies will cover) for traditional vs. virtual services.
Seniors are particularly vulnerable to severe complications from COVID-19, a fact that is further complicated by testing challenges. Some organizations including National Church Residences, Ohio Living and LeadingAge Ohio have developed new approaches to making rapid testing available to seniors. As time goes on, senior living providers will have to grapple with perception shifts among target populations. Providers who adapt their marketing and communications quickly will be able to capitalize on the large number of Americans age 55 and up. The impact of an economic downturn may also impact how many Baby Boomers are able to retire on the same timeline as originally planned.
As Kenny McDonald reminded us in a recent One Columbus newsletter, “Jobs will be created and invented, old approaches will be destroyed (sometimes painfully), and leaders will emerge sector by sector and community by community.”
This is a moment in time that will see unprecedented change — both in how economic development organizations and local communities support and attract new business, and in how businesses approach growth. Economic development organizations across the country have already shifted focus from attracting new businesses to supporting existing local, small businesses.
As business budgets shift to more conservative models designed to cut costs, expansion projects will likely be put on the backburner. The Ohio State University, for example, has paused construction projects to help reduce expenditures. However, projects that are able to be funded will benefit from continued construction and additional labor availability, due to layoffs in other industries.
No matter your industry, now is the time to shore up operations. Review your tech stack, evaluate internal processes and optimize the experience for your customers and employees. And don’t make the mistake of ignoring internal communications — take ownership of what you can control. Improving your organization’s relationship with employees will have a positive impact on culture, recruitment and retention. All things that will benefit your organization over the long-term.
If you’re struggling with how your organization can adapt its business strategy and marketing communications in the wake of COVID-19, let us know. We’d be happy to talk it through.