Yesterday, Wednesday 23rd April, Mark recorded this piece for KMFM Radio, detailing what Telfords Accountants are doing to help their clients – as well as the wider business community.
Listen here or read the full transcript:
“My name’s Mark Telford. I’m the founder of Telford’s Accountants based in Sellindge, and we’re really focused on working really closely with small businesses. The big focus is obviously on dealing with the COVID-19 or Coronavirus. So how we’re helping local businesses at the moment, we’ve very much transitioned because initially, there was a lot of fear and uncertainty and the real focus then was on supporting business owners, making them aware of the information that was available, what support was available.
Now, we’ve seen that they’ve sort of transitioned from that fear and they’re now learning what COVID-19 lock down means. We’re really working with them now to try and move their businesses forward so that we get through the next two or three months in a position where they can move on and build their business back up.
So the things we’re doing for clients to help them; firstly, we’re running regular email updates. We’re also holding webinars each week, which are recorded so they can view them later. We’ve also specifically set up WhatsApp groups and Facebook groups. Then on top of that, any clients that we think are going under the radar, we’re missing them, we’ll literally pick the phone up and speak to them. The WhatsApp groups were initially focused for clients, but we’ve opened them up to all business owners now so anybody can join.
While initially we’re very much focused on clients, we want to work with the business community in general because we hear about other people not being kept up to date and we really think it’s our purpose to help as many businesses as possible get through this. Okay, so three things I would get business owners to focus on to get through the next few months will firstly be make sure you’ve claimed all the support you can, whether that’s a business rates grants, whether it’s job retention schemes if relevant for you or perhaps, you’re self employed and you need to make sure that you’re aware of the self-employment supports.
Secondly, I’d say it’s really important to make sure that you have a plan in place. When I say a plan, it’s very much based around business resilience. So what I mean by that is, it’s looking out for yourself, making sure you’re looking after yourself, you’re looking after your team, you’re keeping in touch with them because you may not be able to see them, they’re all working at home or they may not be working. Keep in touch with these suppliers and your customers because it’s not normal working conditions at the moment. So you need them to know that you’re still there, you’re still looking to work, you still want to work with them in the future. It’s really important to have that plan and that plan can really provide a solid platform for moving your business forward.
And thirdly, I’d say look at how you can make your business stronger. Are there things that you could do differently than you’re doing right now. Now, that might be the types of work you do, the types of clients you work with. We hear an awful lot about businesses, what’s called pivoting, changing direction and that could be… A very good example is if you’re a restaurant, obviously your restaurant’s not open now, can you provide a home delivery food service? Or if you’re a gym, can you provide gym sessions online? Joe Wicks is an obvious example. So it’s really trying to get business owners to think about what they can do differently. Okay.
So we’ve produced quite a lot of free resource, which is available not just to clients, but to businesses generally. Firstly, the first thing that we focused on was a document which just details all of the support that’s available, business rates grant, job retention scheme, business rates holiday, all that type of thing. So it’s literally one sheet you can actually look over it. Is that relevant to us? Have we claimed it? No. Well, let’s make sure we do claim it.
Secondly, it’s a focus on cashflow because it’s really important that people look at a business cashflow and also, a personal cashflow and very much break those costs down between what’s essential, what’s nice to have and what’s a luxury. Obviously right now, we should be stripping out those luxuries. So the cash flow, that’s really important. What we’ve done there is we’ve produced a template that people can have and also, a how-to video that shows them how to prepare it.
The third one is the business continuity plan, which that’s really to try and build some resilience into your business. We have a plan template that anybody can have and fill in. We’ll also provide a guide as well, which will show them how to do it. Now of course, if that’s a bit too much for them, then we will offer them support in any of those areas. What we’re working on right now is where we’ve gone through the fear of COVID-19, what’s it going to involve? We’re now learning about what it really means and the next step is to really get a plan in place and take some action that are going to enable you to improve your situation.
So initially, what we’d done just with clients was we were holding ones who are on action plan meetings, which would last around about 30 minutes over Zoom. Client would do some pre-work and that would produce a lot of the information that we could then discuss in the meeting. What we’re going to do now is we’re actually going to roll the hours of free offering to any business owners out there, those that feel as though they’re missing out on getting support. Even if it’s just a case of they want somebody to speak to and bounce some ideas off, we’re here to do that because we just think it’s really important that as many businesses as possible get through the next few months.
So as a business ourselves, we were really lucky because all of our team worked remotely before COVID-19. Almost all of our meetings were online over Zoom. We’d have weekly team catch-ups normally on a Monday, and then just through the week, we’d stay in regular contact. Really, our work has not changed significantly. We make a big use of technology. All our accounts software is online. We’ve been using Zoom for around about three years, so we’re very comfortable working in the current situation. What we found is with less travel, we’re able to be more productive and get a lot more done for clients as well.
I’ll say to anybody listening right now who’s feeling a bit vulnerable, a bit in the dark; just get in touch, get in touch with us through out website, www.telfordsaccountants.com, or contact me on Facebook or through LinkedIn and I’ll be very happy to have a conversation with them. Even if it’s just a case of saying, “This is what you’re entitled to. Have you claimed it? If not, we’ll make sure you do.”