With a majority of businesses across the globe getting prepared for resuming operations amid the corona pandemic, owners have a lot to consider before reopening. They have to follow and maintain high safety standards with respect to the guidelines given by the FDA, OSHA, EEOC, and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for testing. CPA firm owners must ensure the unmatched safety of its employees while also providing them with freedom of space to work efficiently.
These over-the-top requirements and uncertainties might make a firm vulnerable to potential COVID-19-related liability claims in the future. However, this can be surely avoided by taking appropriate measures. So, let us dig deeper into the same.
7 Key Considerations for Reopening
Irrespective of whether CPA firms lease their space or own a building, it is essential to take care of the following considerations before inviting a client to the office and welcoming the employees back:
- Review Your Finances
This is probably the first step towards reopening your CPA firm. Similar to other accounting firms, it is very likely that your CPA firm must have faced financial disruptions to some extent. So, it is essential for you to review your finances before you think of reopening your CPA firm. If you were able to sustain business operations and ensure smooth cash flow as usual or with little effect during the lockdown with the help of remote working or other options like opting for outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping services, then you might be good to go.
However, if you were hit hard, you need to prepare a financial plan that clearly lists out your financial position and risks in the coming times, including your contingency plans in case your firm fails to get back on track and ensure smooth cash flow after reopening.
- Keep Compliance with the Guidelines
Educate yourself first regarding the guidelines laid by the state and federal government with respect to reopening. These guidelines might differ from state to state, depending on the severity of coronavirus in the region.
So, this makes it vital for a firm owner to learn about the same prior to resuming business operations as not complying with the same may result in heavy penalties. Also, this could hamper the image of the CPA firm in the eyes of clients and even employees who might start looking for other options.
- Prepare the Building
The next step for reopening your CPA firm is to prepare your building in accordance with the safety guidelines set by the authorities. It is your duty as the firm employer to ensure your building is corona-free, and you must sanitize each and every space in your building. This includes doing pre-return inspections, preparing cleaning plans, and taking care of commonly touched areas like doorknobs, elevators, washrooms, and more.
When your building will be safe from coronavirus after thorough disinfecting, and you will have a cleaning plan to sanitize different things on a daily basis, some even on an hourly basis, you will be in the position for reopening your CPA firm as far as the physical space is concerned.
- Plan Office Proceedings
Obviously, your office proceedings will not be the same as they used to be. You have to make changes to the way your employees will sit after the office gets open in order to ensure social distancing and safe working practices. Now, it all depends on the size of your firm and the number of employees you have, making a must for you to plan things accordingly. You need to take care of the way your employees eat and drink while in the office or during the lunch break.
It is recommended to have strict policies in place regarding the same, and sharing of food must not be allowed under any circumstances in order to avoid contracting the virus from an infected person who is yet to develop COVID-19 symptoms. Apart from this, work on how essential commodities related to the office will be received and handled.
- Respect Your Employees’ Choices
Your employees form the backbone of your CPA firm and are your biggest strength. So, it is imperative that you show kindness towards them, understand their concerns/viewpoints, and respect their decisions. For instance, allowing those employees to work remotely who do not wish to come to the office and work in risky conditions. Talk to every employee and know what every employee wants from you. The biggest fear that employees have in mind is that they will be called at any cost once the authorities give the green signal for reopening.
There is no denying one has to follow the guidelines, but as a CPA firm owner, you can even make changes to them according to your convenience, like restricting the number of employees to come back. So, if your employees do not feel comfortable returning back, give them the time until they feel safe coming back. If you respect the choices of your employees, they will surely stay loyal to you in the long run.
- Evaluate Client Needs
COVID-19 has changed everything, and your clients are no exception. The business of your clients must have been affected too, and they will be looking forward to your advisory help apart from the accounting services offered by you. They would want you to guide them towards saving on unwanted expenses, getting maximum reimbursements/help from state and national business relief fund programs, and more.
Apart from this, plan interactions with clients in a way that does not require them to visit your premises as similar to your employees, your clients might feel unsafe too. However, you must incorporate the use of the technology to streamline client interactions like investing in video conferencing software and training your employees on the same.
- Rework Your Marketing Plan
Of course, your marketing plan cannot be the same as it used to be before the pandemic. In fact, you need to rework on it, focusing on client acquisition and retention like never before in order to bounce back financially after reopening. This new plan should also be focused on becoming more active on social media, investing in email campaigns, partnering with bloggers/influencers, embracing content marketing, and more.
You would require a new marketing pitch that helps you reach a wider customer base explaining how you are going to operate in the changed market conditions and what all strategies you wish to adopt to deliver unmatchable services to clients after reopening.
Reopening during the pandemic time is challenging for every business and not just the CPA firms. We all know that the corona pandemic will stay for long, and we have to start adjusting with the same until an effective vaccine becomes available that will probably bring down its effect. Most of the business owners have a changed mindset ever since the epidemic started, especially when it comes to their taxes and write-offs.
CPA firms must realize this new requirement of clients and deliver accordingly. The steps mentioned above will surely help firm owners reopen in a safe and efficient manner, along with taking care of their employees, clients, and much-needed regulatory compliance.
Author Bio :
Tracy Watson works as an Accounting Expert at Accounting To Taxes, a renowned company offering Tax, Financial, Bookkeeping and Account Receivable Service. She is passionate about writing about finance & accounting, small business growth, and entrepreneurship. She is continuously contributing her skills, knowledge, and experience in assisting people with finance and accounting matters.