Unity in family key in keeping biz afloat during pandemic

SURVIVAL: Wearing a face shield, server Brandon Fricke, left, takes orders from dine-in customers surrounded by protective dividers at Water Grill seafood restaurant in Los Angeles. Restaurants and stores have been forced to make changes to survive. AP

A UNITED family can help save a family-owned business from the economic destruction caused by this Covid-19 pandemic.

In a Wong and Bernstein Advisory Group private webinar for family business owners, professor Eric Soriano, renowned business turnaround advisor in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said for the family business legacy to survive and continue, the family must be “aligned, prepared and united.”

“Manage your people well. Collaborate with them. Open your lines. Make the alignment work.Set your goals and aggregate information for possible changes in the market,” Soriano advised family business owners.

Soriano, who is also a senior advisor of Post and Powell Singapore, a former World Bank / IFC Governance consultant and Wong and Bernstein Advisory Group executive director, pointed out that many businesses are in a very uncomfortable zone right now as they try to navigate the uncertain business climate caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The key here is to focus on moving not to growth but to the survival zone, and then move to opportunity zone and then growth,” he said.

Soriano said there should be alignment, clarity and communication to leverage the power of a collected and united family.

He said the roles and responsibilities of the owners in a crisis include setting the expectations between short-term decisions to survive and Iong-term decisions to emerge from the crisis to a stronger and more nimble family business enterprise.

Soriano advised that members involved in business should collectively decide on major transactions or fundamental changes to the business such as taking on additional debt. They must ensure that the family’s values are espoused in the crisis response, especially in the treatment of employees, customers and critical suppliers.

He added that owners should work with the family council to keep the family members informed.

For the management, he advised the participants to form crisis management task forces to respond to and get in front of the crisis, including conducting regular contingency and scenario planning.

The management should also set policies to protect the safety and health of employees and keep the company financially solvent while meeting its contractual and financial obligations (or renegotiate them).

In addition, Soriano suggested that management engage with strategic suppliers to try to minimize supply chain interruptions.


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