Because the COVID-19 pandemic has modified the enterprise atmosphere, purchasers have turned to their CPAs for assist preserving their companies afloat. CPAs who provide shopper advisory providers have been nicely positioned to assist struggling purchasers stabilize and reposition their companies. Right here’s how three CPAs working with purchasers in closely affected sectors have used shopper advisory providers to allow their purchasers to reimagine what’s doable:
Holding eating places cooking
About 75% of the purchasers of Nick Swedberg, CPA, companion at 75-employee Boyum Barenscheer in Bloomington, Minn., are eating places and small craft breweries in Minnesota. These kinds of companies have been “among the hardest-hit” in the course of the pandemic shutdowns, he stated. They proceed to battle although the state had permitted some restricted reopening till a latest rise in COVID-19 instances. Minnesota up to date its restrictions Nov. 18 and banned any on-premises service in eating places from Nov. 20 via Dec. 18.
To assist his purchasers keep in enterprise, Swedberg supplied them recommendation on all kinds of options, corresponding to implementing to-go gross sales and deliveries. For deliberate deliveries, that meant addressing questions concerning the profitability and feasibility of the transfer, together with analyses of worker compensation, automobile insurance coverage, and dealing with suggestions, that are extremely regulated in his state. He has been in a position to try this with Excel, “establishing some superior formulation so there are only a few key metrics” he wants to regulate to check doable outcomes for various situations, he stated.
Swedberg additionally helped purchasers strategy native authorities leaders about acquiring momentary exemptions from rules. As an illustration, a few of his restaurant proprietor purchasers obtained permission from their cities to develop open air. One city let a restaurant take over a municipal car parking zone, whereas one other shut down its principal avenue to permit for outside eating. When a brewery proprietor shopper requested the native board of well being if beer supply may very well be legalized, the board labored with the enterprise to make it doable.
Swedberg assisted with this course of by quantifying how the particular permissions that purchasers have been searching for may save their eating places and their staff’ jobs, serving to them to make a compelling case to native authorities.
As purchasers get extra artistic, Swedberg helps them work via their concepts. For instance, a Mexican restaurant proprietor is contemplating turning a few of his area right into a market the place clients should purchase salsa, meats, and different components that they’ll use to make meals at dwelling. One other proprietor imagines turning his area into a house for 4 various kinds of restaurant. Are the concepts workable?
“My job is to get them to prepare their ideas, after which we are able to make a real monetary projection” to see if the plan is viable, Swedberg stated. “Bear in mind in math whenever you needed to flip a phrase drawback into an equation? That’s what I do.”
Sustaining the well being of service-related practices
Sandy Shecter, CPA, CGMA, is firmwide director of Rehmann Options at 900-person Rehmann, which has places of work in three states. Shecter, who’s positioned in Detroit, has amongst her purchasers physicians, dentists, and surgical facilities that vary in dimension from one doctor to greater than 350. Their potential to open, in addition to their affected person quantity, was affected when the state of Michigan ordered shutdowns in March. Shecter stepped in to assist purchasers apply for the Paycheck Safety Program and different loans or grants. Her agency additionally works with them to supply knowledge and projections for decision-making on administration points, corresponding to worker furloughs; on envisioning new methods to work with sufferers, corresponding to telemedicine; and on addressing vital points, corresponding to cybersecurity or the total outsourcing of a shopper’s IT division.
Her agency additionally assists with a wide range of outsourced providers, together with HR recommendation on slicing worker prices, expertise experience that may make telemedicine doable, and outsourced bookkeeping and accounting. “Offering these providers on an outsourcing foundation permits purchasers to regulate their utilization up or down as wanted,” she stated.
By late September, most of Shecter’s service-related follow purchasers have been again to almost pre-pandemic affected person ranges, however she predicts lasting change. Her strategic planning with purchasers has coated choices corresponding to better use of affected person portals to speak and switching to off-site areas for back-office employees.
She advises CPAs to suppose past compliance and concentrate on giving purchasers extra by way of enterprise recommendation. “The pandemic has underscored the worth that purchasers place on real-time data they’ll use to handle their companies,” she stated. “That’s really vital.” Her purchasers, for example, usually search her assist with money circulate administration, accounts receivable getting older evaluation, and the recalculation and monitoring of budgets.
Discovering the important thing to actual property sustainability
As rental revenue declined in the course of the pandemic, Brandon Corridor, CPA, serving as his purchasers’ outsourced CFO, did actual property portfolio analyses for actual property investor purchasers to find out how they could enhance efficiency. He additionally developed tax-minimization and cost-segregation methods to assist them improve money circulate.
Corridor, CEO of 17-employee agency The Actual Property CPA in Raleigh, N.C., builds custom-made dashboards for purchasers utilizing Google Sheets, spreadsheets that permit for simple entry and collaboration for each him and his purchasers. It’s doable to feed the shopper’s QuickBooks On-line accounting knowledge stay into that dashboard. “The dashboard will observe what’s vital to the shopper,” Corridor stated, which is often data on occupancy ranges, budget-to-costs, rehab prices, money revenue earned on a money property funding, return on fairness, and inner fee of return.
Corridor, a sole practitioner, was initially anxious concerning the financial uncertainty the pandemic induced since he had not skilled the same disruption in his profession. His enterprise coach supplied recommendation that he makes use of along with his personal purchasers and recommends for different practitioners: Create a monetary plan for the approaching 12 months that’s break up into one- to two-month tranches, and set anticipated monetary efficiency metrics for every tranche. If you happen to hit the metrics, maintain doing what you’re doing. Additionally, resolve what actions it’s best to take in case you miss your metrics by 10%, 20%, and so forth. These actions may embody slicing again on employees or on recognized bills.
Simply having a plan that envisions what to do in good outcomes and dangerous can scale back stress and enhance your response to setbacks, Corridor stated. “You’ll be able to’t management the financial system, however you possibly can management the way you react to it,” he stated.
CPAs can step in when purchasers battle
Whereas companies battle with the continued results of the pandemic, CPAs may help by figuring out purchasers’ wants based mostly on their present data of their companies. “Perceive the shopper’s ache factors, and see what you possibly can take off their plate,” Shecter suggested.
Corridor likewise recommends being proactive, understanding the evolving affect that the pandemic is having, and being prepared to supply or create the providers purchasers want. “CPAs are in an amazing place to assist purchasers proper now,” Corridor stated, with so many searching for not solely tax and accounting assist but in addition general enterprise recommendation in unsure instances.
— Anita Dennis is a New Jersey-based freelance author. To touch upon this text or to recommend an concept for an additional article, contact Courtney Vien, a JofA senior editor, at [email protected].