There are essentially three phases to a business turnaround which are the first, emergency phase to try to ensure survival, followed by stabilisation, which includes a thorough look at any fundamental changes needed to achieve a viable business and finally the growth phase to secure its future on solid foundations.
It is important that the main objectives of each phase are achieved before going on to the next one. This needs a clear understanding from all those involved of the objectives of each phase. The focus of activity changes throughout the process from hoarding cash, terminating contracts and limits on spending while trying to survive in the emergency phase is very different to funding marketing activities, new processes, training and other efficiency related initiatives during a stabilisation phase.
The turnaround process differs from the insolvency process in that the aim of turnaround is to achieve a viable company that can survive whereas insolvency is aimed at putting a business in the best shape to sell the assets and liquidate the company.
The first phase can be likened to triage and is similar to the actions usually carried out by a paramedic at the site of a traffic accident. The paramedic’s job is to stabilise the situation so that the injured can be moved to the surgeon (if needed) who would carry out the second phase of dealing with the damage.
Company doctors are the business equivalent of the paramedic, taking quick decisions to optimise survival, and the surgeon, focussed on becoming cash positive as quickly as possible by only paying essential suppliers and liabilities.
Once the adviser has had a detailed look at the accounts and the business operation to establish the essentials they can then also put together a proposal for ensuring that there is sufficient cash flow to deal with the immediate situation in a way that will allow the business to continue trading while a strategy is being prepared for the next phase.
It will depend on the state of each individual business what the adviser will suggest to stabilise the situation but there are a number of tools that can be used.
A rescue adviser works as part of the company’s team and even if some of the proposed “medicine” seems unpalatable it is worth keeping in mind at all times that their interest is in helping you to survive and that the big advantage to you is that they are able to bring a new and more dispassionate eye to problems within the company to which you may be too close to be able to identify.