For a lot of companies, it’s a scary time. In the wake of the coronavirus, leaders are looking for ways to stay afloat without resorting to layoffs.
Although the federal government has tossed out lifelines like the CARES Act, which offers forgivable loans for payroll and other purposes, income is only half the battle. In a time like this, eliminating unnecessary expenses is just as important.
In an era of economic instability, something’s gotta give.
Many of my friends who own agencies have reached out to ask for ideas. I’ve pointed them toward these outsourcing options:
1. Ad and media buying
With much of America working from home during the crisis, media is an area of opportunity. But now isn’t the time to expand your in-house team. In fact, many companies and advertising agencies are rethinking the value of “in-house” media departments and outsourcing those services to cut costs and expand access to data, software, and research through partnerships.
True Media CEO Jack Miller told me, “Outsourcing media helps agencies run more profitably and provides clients with deeper resources. We’ve even embedded our employees in other offices across the country so clients feel like they still have an in-house team, but with access to much deeper capabilities.”
Miller’s advice echoes a Bain & Company study: The companies that do best during an economic downturn apply the brakes just ahead of the curve. Before markets rebound, they accelerate out of it by spending on key projects.
Operations functions, like HR and accounting, can’t slow down just because the economy does. If anything, tracking expenses and supporting employees becomes more important, not less.
The better answer is to lean on cloud services. By embracing its own Office 365 architecture, storing more data in the cloud, and minimizing travel through Skype conferencing, Microsoft cut its operating expenses by $120,000 per day.
Small changes add up. Embrace tools that reduce the burden on your operations teams, such as self-service HR software. Minimize nonessential travel, and ask employees to log their own expenses via an app.
3. Sales and lead generation
Another area that can’t slip during an economic downturn is sales. Although your team might need to get the final signature, a lot of other steps can be outsourced.
Companies of all sizes are getting creative to keep revenue flowing, according to Jeff Winters, president of Sapper Consulting. “Small- and mid-sized companies are outsourcing lead generation to drive sales in a cost-effective way,” he said. “And larger companies are outsourcing planning for their prospecting efforts to ensure they’re prepared for when this crisis abates.”
4. Mental health consulting
Mental health may not be a central business concern in normal times, but crises create challenges for everyone. Companies will be judged by how they treat their team members when they most need support.
Rather than try to play the role of counselor, outsource it to a professional. Point team members to online resources like June Health, which is currently offering a complimentary call with a therapist for anyone who needs it.
5. Customer service
While they’re home, people are taking the opportunity to call in with customer service issues they’d put on the back burner. Instead of asking your own team to deal with the overload, why not outsource it?
Chatbot services can handle basic needs, such as questions about your hours or return policy. For more complicated needs, turn to outsourced phone and web support. Don’t let increased customer outreach hamstring your core team.
The coronavirus outbreak will be over soon enough. When it is, you’ll be glad you built — and maintained — a lean team through the crisis.