Crisis Management

ORG Partner Companies Supporting Their Communities

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US Med-Equip is a Houston-based company that rents movable medical devices like respiratory equipment, incubators and infusion equipment to hospitals and health care centers across the country and around the world. Founded in 2003, USME was a fledgling company in Texas and Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina hit just two years later. They worked tirelessly by helping hospitals meet the incredible demand for medical equipment after the natural disaster. Because of the hurricane, many of their hospital customers were in financial turmoil, having had damage to or lost their facilities, and were therefore slowing payments to USME. The Company managed through and they learned a lot of important lessons on crisis management, which has helped them every subsequent crisis through the one we are facing today with COVID-19.

In 2007, they began investing in respiratory therapy equipment to rent to their hospital customers. For cash-strapped hospitals, renting means not having to invest in expensive technology – and being able to upgrade to new equipment when it comes out without a huge capital investment. Plus, it gives hospitals access to equipment they wouldn’t necessarily buy outright, especially items that would only be needed for a handful of patients at unpredictable times. By providing rental equipment, US Med-Equip relieves stress and expense so caregivers can focus on what matters most: the health of their patients.

Today, US Med-Equip is facing a serious health crisis that requires their equipment at an unprecedented scale. This time, however, they’re fully prepared to supply health care providers that are facing their own worst-case scenario. Here’s how they’re doing it:

  • The company has invested heavily in respiratory equipment in recent years; long-term chronic health issues, including COPD, and global pandemics like COVID-19 are increasing customer needs
  • USME customer support representatives are on call 24/7. Their equipment will be delivered in a matter of hours
  • Customers are utilizing the Company’s online app which enables hospitals to quickly order equipment
  • Dispatch employees have been supplied a laptop, cell phone, and Bluetooth headset to provide full capabilities while working out of their homes, fielding requests seamlessly
  • Accounting, billing, collections, IT, marketing, procurement, equipment management, and other overhead functions have been setup for work-from-home and have rotated into the office if necessary
  • USME has provided lunch daily to Biomed, Quality Control, Receiving and Shipping departments to lessen the food search burden, which has resulted in higher production hours
  • Biomed teams are voluntarily pulling shifts on Saturdays and Sundays given such high demand for equipment
  • The company is overcommunicating with customers (local hospital decision makers, regional supply chain and national supply chain) to coordinate how they can best assist inventory needs across all partners – as inventories have become scarce, USME has had to ask tough questions about whether the need was in preparation or for immediate patient care
  • USME employees are offering to help healthcare partners where they cannot fill every equipment order. For example, employees have helped move hospital-owned ventilators from one hospital facility to another to provide full care
  • With 32 branch locations, 45,000 pieces of medical equipment and a culture focused on high-quality service, USME is well positioned to meet increasing customer needs during this difficult time

Owner Resource Group would like to express our appreciation to US Med-Equip for everything they’re doing to help people make it through the crisis. But they aren’t the only ones pulling together and making a difference. Our other Partner Companies are stepping up in a variety of ways to do what they can to help. Here are just a few examples that you might consider as you seek ways to help your community:

  • Having healthy lunches delivered to healthcare workers on-site
  • Reimbursing employees for coffee or lunch purchases at local, independent businesses
  • Deploying old (wiped) laptops for employees to take home so their kids can use them for school. Many families don’t have multiple laptops or tablets for more than one child to do online schoolwork at a time. The computers might be outdated, but are still useful for lessons.
  • Executives are sending daily video updates to stay connected, reassure their employees/partners/customers and share positive stories
  • Companies with operations in Asia are sharing what they’ve learned from the crisis there, which is a couple of months ahead of us
  • Initiating communications to help employees navigate the new normal: mental health resources, childcare resources, ideas for staying healthy, etc.
  • Relaxing sick and personal time leave policies
  • Setting up GoFundMe pages for displaced employees
  • Sending gift certificates to employees and customers to stream first-run movies at home or order food delivery

We’re all in this together

ORG is here and ready to assist. Please reach out if we can be helpful in any way as you look to navigate these uncharted waters.

Mandy Patterson

Mandy Patterson is a Vice President in the Industry Group at Owner Resource Group (ORG). She is fortunate to meet with hundreds of business owners across the country each year to learn about their unique challenges and goals for the growth of their businesses. Outside of work, Mandy enjoys traveling, college football and anything outdoors – hiking, fishing, hunting and skiing.

Leadership in crisis: 10 tips for weathering the storm

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We are in an unprecedented situation. Traditional crisis response tactics won’t be enough: the global shutdown is creating enormous disruptions, and we need to figure out how to get our businesses safely to the other side of the crisis. To set ourselves up to survive the ongoing storm, we need to act quickly and decisively. Here are 10 ways you can lead your organization through the crisis:

1. Be a leader, but be a human first. Act with empathy, flexibility and patience. People are stressed and scared. They have kids at home and mortgages to pay. Acknowledge their fears, reassure them whenever you can, and if you’re not sure about something, say so. Be willing to bend (or even toss) processes like PTO or sick leave to make people’s lives easier. And talk to them – tell them what’s happening in the company on a regular basis. Keeping them in the dark, even about tough choices you may have to make, will only make them more uncomfortable.

2. Set up a COVID-19 war room. Appoint a senior, multidisciplinary team dedicated to the task full-time. Empower them to make quick decisions and create critical action plans. Their role is to come up with contingency plans for all scenarios (including worst-case) and determine how to stabilize operations.

3. Get your working capital sorted. You’ve probably already taken significant cost-cutting measures, but now would be a good time to cut unprofitable customers, look at less expensive suppliers or ones with more flexible payment terms, and approach lenders for more lenient terms. Optimize your supply chain to reduce costs. Consider shutting down underperforming business units or geographies and take operations down to a smaller but higher-performing core.

4. Find out what parts of the relief bill you’re eligible for. Of the $2T CARES Act announced March 25, $370B has been allocated to small business loan and tax credit coverage through the SBA. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees can apply for a $2M Economic Injury Disaster Loan ($10K of the applied-for funds may be available within 10 days) and then can apply for a further loan of up to $10M with interest rates no higher than 4%. These loans are part of the Paycheck Protection Program – federally guaranteed loans that may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore them afterwards. We also encourage companies to study the CARES act as it relates to payroll tax credits and tax deferrals, for which you may also be eligible.

Get more info from the US Chamber of Commerce Small Business Guide and Checklist.

Businesses should consider applying for the EIDL as soon as possible. Apply directly to the SBA Disaster Assistance Program,  rather than through a bank. There’s no cost to apply and no obligation to take the loan if it’s offered. And it’s not just for sole proprietors – businesses with advanced ownership structures can also qualify. Visit the SBA Disaster Loan Application Portal to learn more and get started.

5. Stabilize your supply chain. Identify any risks including upstream risks, increase stock where you can, boost frequency of deliveries to ensure consistent supply, and qualify new suppliers in case your current ones are unable to fulfill their obligations.

6. Get ready for worst-case scenarios. If they don’t happen, great. But if they do, being prepared will make all the difference. Determine specific milestones that will trigger actions on your part, and put everything in place to ensure those actions can happen if and when you hit those milestones

7. Focus on the parts of your business you can grow now. Move your resources to where they’ll make the biggest difference. Identify the most profitable target markets and be aggressive with promotions and marketing to pull them in. Identify new revenue opportunities. Reach out to existing customers and late-stage leads in your pipeline.

8. Have a business continuity plan in place. If leaders or employees are unable to work because they’ve contracted the virus or are caring for sick family members, ensure plans are in place for operations to continue without interruption.

9. Plan for recovery. Although there are days when it may feel like this situation will last forever, it won’t. And now isn’t just the time to “stop the bleeding,” it’s an opportunity to figure out how you can set up your company to outperform competitors once the crisis is over. A lot of what you’re doing today to make operations more efficient will help you operate leaner in the future: for example, getting your supply chain in fighting shape now will give you greater agility, more capabilities and a cost advantage when COVID-19 is behind us.

10. Get ready for a permanent change in customer behavior. After this crisis, the world won’t be the same – and neither will business. Start planning now for a shift to digital solutions and automation. Adapt your technology and keep a sharp eye on changing trends, so you can invest wisely and drive the charge to capture market share.

We’re all in this together – and ORG is here and ready to help. Please reach out if we can be helpful in any way as you look to navigate these uncharted waters.

Jessica Borowy

Jessica Borowy is a Vice President in the Industry Group at Owner Resource Group (ORG). She is fortunate to meet with hundreds of business owners each year to learn about their unique goals and pursuits for the growth of their businesses. Outside of work, Jessica enjoys hiking and riding bikes with her husband and two rambunctious boys, and has a soft spot for Tex-Mex food and rescue dogs.