Pandemic Protocol: Keep a Close Eye on the Bottom Line
These strategies and tactics can help managers handle the financial challenges created by COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed nearly everything. People continue to struggle with an array of evolving family dynamics, work pressures and health concerns, none of which show signs of slowing down. In institutional and commercial facilities, the pace of change is much the same. Maintenance and engineering managers face a host of challenges related to improving HVAC system efficiency and ensuring proper sanitation, all in an effort to protect the health of their departments’ technicians, as well as building occupants returning to work.
In both cases, the coronavirus has created unprecedented problems that are at the heart of the issue:
• U.S. bankruptcies are on track to hit a 10-year high as the pandemic recession continues to slam businesses.
• As of early August, 424 companies have gone bankrupt, surpassing the number of filings during any period since 2010.
• Consumer-focused companies such as retail have been hit particularly hard; 100 companies in the sector have filed for bankruptcy this year.
On the other hand, some sectors have been thriving:
• The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is growing and will benefit from increasing investments related to the development of a vaccine for COVID-19.
• Consumer goods, especially grocery store chains where people initially were in panic-buying mode, are growing. Despite broader trends of economic decline and global recession, certain consumer goods businesses are enjoying a greater share of the market.
• The home entertainment, social media and e-commerce sectors are seeing a surge in services. Some of these companies are seeing a 15-50 percent increase in their revenues. The price of Amazon stock has increased 55 percent since March 1.
Contractors are among those benefiting as demand grows for their services. Earlier this year, my wife and I were interested in finding a contractor for several home improvements. I contacted seven contractors. Four never responded, and one responded that it would be back in touch within 8-10 weeks. I received proposals from the other two contractors. One proposed charging significantly more than the other for the same work and design.
When I asked the high bidder about the quote discrepancy, I was told that the market is such that the company can charge essentially what it wants, and the customer can take it or leave it. We went with the other contractor, and the earliest the work can be scheduled is early February.