The COVID-19 shut-down has hit small businesses especially hard. But Andrew Lavoie, President of Next Level Group, is busy offering solutions.
Next Level Group (NLG) helps businesses achieve their goals by strengthening their business plans and guiding them through their accounting and human resource needs. NLG supports employers in connecting with permanent or temporary staffing solutions.
“These are strange times for sure,” says Andrew. “Nobody has the answers, and it is literally day by day and hour by hour as to what our next steps will be and what our future will look like.
“About 40 to 50 percent of our business clients, if not more, have delayed or cancelled contracts. In our nine-plus history, that has never happened before. We have cut our team by 50 percent to reflect the reduced number of contracts that are now coming in, but we have ramped up on HR and Payroll services.”
Before the shutdown, Next Level Group had two part-time and six full-time staff. Now, one part-time and three full-time staff members are working from home. The East Coast Accounting division of the company, which had three staff, now has one person working from home.
“Although we are definitely seeing a downturn with a lot of job opportunities on hold, a lot of businesses we never dealt with before are reaching out to us,” says Andrew. “They need essential workers now, or they will need people within the next few months when they are ready to restart, and they need help to get plans in place.
“Our business is changing. In the last nine years, we have focussed on staffing for payroll services, but now we have been forced to re-evaluate and become more of an HR-solution partner and an extension of our clients’ teams, such as audit preparation, employee engagement, pandemic policies and action plans.”
Jobs currently in demand
“Certain industries are starving for people,” says Andrew. “It is certainly not all doom and gloom.” Andrew reports that employers are contacting him looking for the following positions:
- Maintenance workers within manufacturing settings, eg. Industrial Electricians, Maintenance Mechanics and Supervisors
- Property Development Maintenance and Management
- More calls for IT professionals from companies that want to be able to ramp up and be ready after the pandemic passes
- More calls for temporary staffing such as Truck Drivers and Construction employees throughout Atlantic Canada
“We can help people determine what type of staff they need – temporary or permanent or contractors. They may not need that full-time person now, but they may need to try someone out for a few months before they hire them permanently. In the short term, a lot of businesses will be holding back from hiring. It could be 18 to 24 months before social distancing rules are relaxed. That impacts everyone’s business in some form. Temporary employment may be an option for some people, including financial payroll options.”
Next Level Group offers solutions for local small businesses
1) HR Policies and pandemic literature
“Some companies that are in extremely high demand right now, such as food and beverage, logistics, or warehousing, do not have the capacity or the time to bring their manuals up to compliance, so they are asking us to do that work.”
2) Temporary/Contract/Permanent staffing discount
“To support our local market on PEI, we are putting together packages to support small business owners who need to focus on day-to-day operations. We offer a package which has us taking care of the HR, pandemic policies, or staffing support to allow the business owner to focus on the realignment of the business.”
3) Creative writing of monthly blogs to enhance awareness
The blog on the NLG website has tips for employers and job seekers. “Our blog has really supported our business, and we are looking at potentially coaching and supporting other small business owners. It is a way to stay current and keep people engaged and create market awareness for your brand.”
4) Payroll services and financing
Next Level Group can help with payroll duties through its East Coast Accounting division. “We can also finance the payroll for a period of time. Some companies are taking advantage of our financing options in hopes of beginning to generate revenue soon.”
5) Discount on Bookkeeping services
“Our bookkeeping division, East Coast Accounting, has doubled in size in the last six months. We will go the extra mile, sit down with owners, review what is going on in the business, and help guide them or schedule a meeting with the client’s accountant.
“This is not the time to be charging full rates. We want to help businesses through the tough times. Our clients need us now more than ever, so we have implemented a flat fee option to assist our clients with ease of budgeting. Hopefully as they grow their business, we will continue to be an important partner within their business.”
6) Business Consulting
Andrew is a licensed business coach and consultant. “We don’t want small business owners to feel alone right now. We want to be able to assist and implement steps to drive the business further. I am a small business owner myself, and I know how important it is to not feel alone, so I have a business coach that I am accountable to. We want to help small business owners achieve their dreams. The COVID-19 shut down has affected everything we touch and we don’t want to leave anybody behind.”
by Heidi Riley