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Professional Services

Legal Services • Management Consulting • Staffing • Retirement Services • Marketing

THE NEW NORMAL

What Has Changed?

1

Digital Obstacles

Although businesses in this sector typically operate online, recent dramatic shifts in work structure caused a drop in productivity as managers face difficulties in remote work management. Overseeing remote work was the number one challenge faced by companies in this sector.

2

Talent Acquisition

The quality of firms in the professional services industry depends on the talent and skills of the employees. Multiple firms in this sector expressed concerns with retaining existing staff, hiring and training new employees, and how to continue team building and engaging work culture.

3

Project Cancellations

As certain businesses close their doors permanently and others change work models, businesses in this sector are at high risk of delays, reassessments, or cancellations of many projects and services. Consulting services in particular are one of the first expenses to go.

4

Upgrading Technology and Security

Professional service businesses rely heavily on software, cloud technology, and other programs to provide their services. Ways to update and upgrade technology was considered a priority long-term need, alongside remote access and security online.

5

Remote Working Here to Stay

Employers are evaluating the efficiency of remote working and cost savings. Many positions might stay remote permanently.

6

Reduced Access to Current and Prospective Clients

Two-thirds of service-based companies have reduced access to current clients and 14% of them expect to lose prospective clients.

7

Increasing New Users in IT Service Market Sector

Companies have increased spending in the IT Sector in the form of cloud-based collaborative platforms (e.g. video conferencing, data sharing apps) and both hardware and software to support home-based workers.

8

Talent Pool Changes

The skill sets needed for new projects will change significantly following COVID-19 effects. This will impact employee hiring and training processes.

RECOMMENDATIONS

How Should I Recover?

1

PHASE 1

Onset

Establish remote working systems

Enable clients to be served virtually

  • Provide necessary information and tools to contact the business, such as how to register and set up an online appointment.
  • Install appointment scheduling software tailored for the business’ specific needs and industry. Integrate signing waivers into online scheduling. The most popularly used ones include: Appointy, Square Appointments, 10to8, Acuity Scheduling, and, Setmore.

Share technical skills

  • If an employee has certain technical skills (in addition to consulting capabilities, for instance), consider enabling specialized equipment or software to expand service offerings.
  • Loan special tools and equipment at a set price (e.g. post skills and equipment to social media groups in the community).
  • Try pickup and drop off services (e.g. an IT company that fixes printers for free as a new service for companies operating from home).

Adapt sales to remote strategies

  • Adjust traditional sales techniques to new remote dynamics. Miller Heiman Group released insights on how to have a successful sales strategy in the midst of social distancing and remote work. “The New Strategic Selling” by Robert B Miller and Stephen Heiman is one of the most influential works in the industry, teaching clever marketing and sales tactics designed to seal the deal.
  • Take advantage of virtual events revolving around the industry and network online with potential clients.
  • Engage the audience through various Zoom techniques. It is helpful to create a friendly environment by affirming your audience, asking open-ended questions, and staying calm in communication methods.

Explore new opportunities

  • Expand to industries that are relatively “recession-proof” or have recession-resistant qualities, such as healthcare and staffing firms (an industry that often suffers last and recovers first).
  • Diversify into the public sector. Many government clients are currently in search of talent in technical services.

Enhance expertise

  • Develop case studies and press releases that prove expertise to prospective clients.
  • Increase focus on current high-demand offerings such as cybersecurity, business planning, accounting, supply chain, data privacy, risk management, and facilities management. Encourage and support employees to pursue certifications in these areas.
  • Specialize services that focus on aiding clients to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, such as business continuity planning, digital proficiency, resiliency, and remote management.

Keep new talent flowing

  • Maintain active recruiting processes and build a relationship with prospect employees.
  • Create and continue to manage “meet and greet” activities and “Question and Answer” sessions with current employees.
  • Include candidates in company mailing lists and newsletters.
  • Engage the company’s mission through virtual webinars.
  • Encourage candidates to connect with the firm on social media channels such as LinkedIn.
  • Consider targeting hiring towards current undergraduates or recent graduates. Due to COVID-19, many college students are looking for internships and job opportunities to replace those lost due to the pandemic. Post a job offering on Handshake, a popularly used recruiting website for college students.
2

PHASE 2

Oscillation

Prepare the workplace

  • Ensure proper adherence to new COVID-19 safety measures for the workplace.
  • Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all employees.
  • Intensify cleaning efforts in office environments, especially on high touch surfaces like phones, desks, and doorknobs.
  • Encourage social distancing through changing layouts, installing physical barriers, encouraging telework, minimizing communal spaces, staggering shifts and breaks, and limiting large events.
  • Promote telework for employees who are not local to limit possible exposure while commuting.
  • Develop procedures for screening employees for symptoms.
  • Limit entry and exit points.
  • Limit building occupancy.
  • Increase access to sanitation equipment for employees to disinfect their own workspaces.

Communicate safety measures to prospective clients

  • This will help alleviate any concerns of work disruptions or delays.
  • Think about which employees are actually needed on-site to avoid unnecessary risk of infection spread.
  • Create and post in a public location a coronavirus exposure control, mitigation, and recovery plan. Share this with employees and clients.

Keep the pipeline warm

  • Connect with furloughed, laid off and remote employees and encourage them to improve their skills through continued education, by taking specialized courses on LinkedIn or EdX for instance (free online courses offered by Harvard, MIT, and other prestigious universities).

For IT Services

  • Guide firms that are working to integrate remote work into their businesses.
  • Create specialized COVID-19 business continuity and remote management programs.
  • Drive technology adoption and innovation for clients to support the “future of” scenarios. Implement digitally-enabled “future of work” tools to support business continuity planning. Create online resources for clients to install, manage, and troubleshoot programs, such as infographics, articles, newsletters, downloadable PDFs, and more.
  • Stay ahead on technology trends. COVID-19 is accelerating technology trends already on the rise. These include artificial intelligence, virtual/augmented reality, Internet-of-Things, cybersecurity, blockchain, and more. Brainstorm ideas to integrate these trends to current services now to stay ahead. For instance, implement artificial intelligence as a chatbot feature.

For Management Consulting Services

  • Focus on industries that are most impacted by COVID-19. Ongoing projects may fail; concentrate on new and urgent projects.
  • Utilize consultants with supply chain backgrounds. The food industry is transitioning to e-commerce and digital ordering systems. There has been a sharp increase in the need of assistance to adjust to new and unfamiliar business models.
  • Provide internal online webinars and workshops for employees to be educated in various business fields to tackle an influx of new needs.
3

PHASE 3

Opening

Adapt long-term digital business models

  • With projections for a vaccine set at approximately one year to two years, many businesses are looking to adopt digital, “online-only” business models for the long run. Some are considering adopting remote workers permanently, working from other states across the nation and internationally.
  • Build a business management structure for remote and “work-from-home” employees. Utilize technology and communication tools to maintain contact, track progress and manage work.

Case Studies

Success Stories

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Artitudes Design

Andrea Heuston at Artitudes Design pivoted her business and started offering “virtual events in a box.” She leveraged her existing customer base and encouraged them to embrace the new normal.

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BoomBoss

In 2008, Ali Miles-Jenkins at The BoomBoss, UK, made her customers the priority. She re-imagined her services, and offered a free book to those who could not afford her assistance. They called her back once things got back to normal.

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Zones

Using experience from previous recessions, Firoz Lalji at Zones focused on his people, his customers, and his financials. He see this time as an opportunity to restructure and transform his business.

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Technology

Tools to Adapt

Remote Team Management Software

Slack
Scoro
ProofHub
HubStaff
Capterra
Smartsheet

Sales Management Software

HubSpot Sales
Pipedrive
Agile CRM

Useful Industry Resources

Find More Ways to Help You

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Lynda.com

Employees can take advantage of free training resources to enhance their expertise. Lynda.com offers various online video courses for website development, software, business skills and other professional skills. Logging on with local libraries like the King County Library System and Seattle Public Library cards offers free access.

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SCORE Action Plan

SCORE released an action plan specifically for professional services.

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Gartner

Gartner provides 5 steps for businesses to be resilient.

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CDC Reopening Guidelines

This document outlines the minimum requirements that must be in place in order to reopen. It includes general considerations, health and safety procedures, as well as ongoing monitoring guidelines.

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Washington State Reopening Guidelines

Washington Phase 2 Professional Services Reopening Guidelines outlines the requirements that businesses in this industry must take to reopen during Phase 2 in Washington. It outlines physical considerations as well as employee safety and health procedures.

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