How to future-proof your business during COVID-19

Now is the time to look after your mental wellbeing and review your business, says PLAN Australia CEO Anja Pannek.

She says despite the challenges caused by COVID-19, brokers can work to future proof their businesses by maintaining a strong connection with customers and reflecting on their existing processes and strategies.

MPA spoke with Pannek about the ways brokers have adapted throughout the pandemic and why they should take time to enjoy the company of loved ones.

COVID-19 has been a major challenge

According to Pannek, brokers have had to move quickly to navigate the challenges caused by COVID-19.

“Like most of us, brokers are dealing with the force of this pandemic both at a personal level, through their families and friends, as well as through their businesses and the impact it has had on their customers’ jobs and lives.”

“The way brokers are living and working has changed rapidly, and they have had to act quickly to be able to guide clients facing difficulty towards the best outcome based on their new circumstances.”

Key strategic considerations for business continuity

While technology has long been an important part of running a brokerage, Pannek says it is even more integral now.

“As brokers support their customers through this crisis, innovative and agile technologies are required to underpin good customer engagement and outcomes – as well as to maintain efficiency in broker businesses.”

She says it has been interesting to see the rapid up-take of online video conferencing technology as well as “the widespread adoption of other online tools.”

“Many of these tools have been available for years, but brokers are embracing them now more than ever before.”

“My advice to brokers is to continue to embrace technology and look for ways to leverage the systems available to continue to build a more efficient and streamlined business.”

On future-proofing your business

For business owners, Pannek suggests spending any downtime that may be caused by a slowdown in activity to look at the processes of the company.

“Consider using this time to reflect upon the effectiveness of your organisational structure and do some planning around that.”

“Similarly, this time could be used to consider the effectiveness of your marketing activity and, as required, reset your marketing plans to take into account current and future market conditions.”

She says reflecting on the processes of the business could provide some valuable insights moving forward.

“This means taking the time to assess business plans and strategies and identifying where any changes might need to be made and to continue to push ahead, where possible, on particular growth strategies that still make sense.”

She says PLAN has recently launched a diagnostic tool for members that can “help them evaluate their business model and identify opportunities within their businesses.”

“As we settle into a new way of working through the current COVID-19 climate, it’s more important than ever to take advantage of professional development opportunities.”

She adds that maintaining a strong connection with clients through communication and support is essential during this difficult time.

“Strong relationships are vital to the future success of any broker business and so investing in these is one important way to ensure your business is future proof.”

The importance of self-care

Pannek says it is vital to look after your mental wellbeing during this time, suggesting brokers focus on maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

“It can be tempting to work around the clock when working from home, but now more than ever it is vital that brokers take time to step away from their laptops and look after themselves.”

“Make sure you take time to enjoy the company of family and friends, whether that be in your home or over the phone. It is crucial to ensure you are staying connected and looking after yourself both mentally and physically.”

“The Australian broking industry has shown how resilient it can be in the face of previous economic crises, change and uncertainties. We have united our industry through adversity and together we can and will overcome the challenges facing us now.”