Covid-19 Recovery Sessions: Professional Services
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Reminder that these notes are not meant to represent a transcript of the meeting.
COVID-19 Recovery Meeting : Professional Services
Mike – Welcome to everyone on the call. We’ve been doing these calls for a few weeks now. He asked
everyone to identify their business as well as their name so we can all be aware of the industry you are
speaking to. Mike identified people who are participating in the call and briefed callers on protocol.
2 Basic Questions – What’s been the impact on your industry/sector? What do you need for the
Mike to Lana Whitteker – What is your industry and the impact and your needs going forward?
Lana W – McDougall Ins – I am a commercial insurance broker and we have obviously had a lot of
inquiries from our clients about their insurance policies. We have had a lot of calls and inquiries and she
encourages people to speak to their broker. I’m working from home, we are all working from home.
Going forward the insurance industry is going to be very different. There is no pandemic coverage on
your commercial liability coverage. There is business interruption insurance but it does not cover that.
She believes that going forward there will be pandemic coverage but she also suspects it will be
James – County Physio – I just started my clinic about a week before the crisis started so I was not able
to really get going. He feels their industry has been quite impacted and they have gone to a virtual
format and he does in home visits that have gone virtual as well. We are all waiting to find out when the
opening process will start. PPE will be helpful to know where to obtain that. The government has
proposed the whole rent thing which should help.
Mike – I wanted to suggest that you follow up offline with one of us regarding your guidelines and how
people in your industry would operate.
Barbara Vaughan – Vaughan Group – Luckily we are pretty diversified but we are retooling. Obviously
not a lot of call for photography right now, but business planning is something that people definitely
need to look at now. I’m doing a lot of work looking at diversifying and strategies. The retooling,
rethinking, repositioning – creative and diversified ways of offering your product to customers. Now is a
good time as this is the kind of thing you don’t have time to do when you are running your business.
Partnering strategies will be important moving on.
Phil Bender – Mayeski Bender Law – I am a lawyer, and how it’s impacted our sector? It depends on
what type of law you practice. I generally work at my desk and by phone and by video conference. It
hasn’t impacted me as much but it has impacted my clients. The courts have been shut down so unless
your matters can be settled by submitting paperwork you are not able to proceed with litigation.
Lawyers are deemed to be essential workplaces and we are continuing to operate. Lawyers and Law
firms in particular are not usually ahead of the curve regarding technology. When we set up our office
we set it up in the cloud and we can access all of our files that way. So we are a bit ahead of the curve
for handling virtual working. I have an number of construction clients that have been impacted, some
more that others as some have been allowed to move ahead. What I am hearing is the difficulty in
workplaces with enforcing social distancing. I am in my office and do not have any staff right now so I
don’t have a problem with that and behind me is my assistants desk and there is glass separating us if
she was here.
James Williamson - Welch LLP – we are deemed an essential service and are attempting to do our
services as much as possible. We have seen a downturn in our business but we will likely not be as hard
hit as other businesses.
Mike - So what will be the expectations from the government regarding tax returns?
James – Business taxes deadline has not moved but personal taxes deadline has moved. Suggested going
to the Canada.ca site to find out all the details re: tax requirements.
Mike – Rob from The Gym at the Armoury can you weigh in?
Rob – The Gym at the Armoury – industry wise I would say the fitness industry has been impacted most
by the social distancing issues. We’ve had to close the doors an moved our industry online. I’ve been
able to do programs for people online. The social distancing factor is going to impact facilities the most.
He believes larger places will be the most impacted. Our needs going forward would be cleaning
supplies which have been hard to obtain. Not much we can do but clean and wait for the slow drip back
in of clients. You can’t access the gym for fitness at this time. A lot of our clients are small business
owners and they will be very affected by this crisis and that will affect our business. Some of our clients
are essential services so they are not as affected.
Mike – to Rob – if you can let us know or Sandra Latchford what you think your needs are going to be
going forward, thank you
Erin Thomson – Scott’s Automotive – we’ve been open during the duration of the crisis, but we have
noticed a decrease in clients coming in. Moving forward we would need cleaning supplies and we will
need advertising for the shop local initiative. It is important that people know that we are open as an
essential service and operating. Our office is closed to the public but the auto shop is open. We have
safety precautions in place when people come in but people are not travelling so they are not bringing
their vehicles in and they do not know if they are allowed to bring them in.
Mike – to Erin – do you feel your sector will be okay and can manage it reasonably well?
Erin – I do think the sector will be okay. Our cycle of business is busy up until 2 weeks before Christmas
and then it picks up again in the spring and we are behind on our season at this point.
Carol Leighton – Watershed Magazine – I am fairly new to the magazine. The impacts on industry is that
we are an advertising driven medium so you can imagine the impact on our industry. She says they are
surprised by the number of renewals of ads. Moving forward we will need access to trumpet our
messaging. It really is a people business so once we are allowed to I will be on the road and visiting
people in the County.
Mike – Carol – what is the general feeling of the people you are talking to?
Carol – they are not advertising their business to attract business – it is more about keeping visibility and
brand recognition. There is the hope that things will start to reopen and get going. She suspects that
businesses will be driving more customers to online shopping
Chris Walcott – Veenstra Plumbing – we definitely saw a drop right away in all the businesses that were
forced to close. The elective work coming from campgrounds, restaurants, etc. came to an end. There is
a little work coming on small projects but there is a lot less than in previous years. New construction will
come to a halt once the permits run out. What we need is for the economy to open up because if you
guys don’t open up I don’t have a business.
Mike to Chris – How do you see social distancing affecting your business going forward?
Chris – we are an essential service but I have found no one who has been a problem with social
distancing. He thinks that everyone is willing to adjust but with the older clients it is very challenging as
you are sometimes a plumber and a therapist since they have not seen or talked to anyone in weeks.
Mike – Christine Searle – would you like to comment on your industry and going forward what the
protocols might need to be?
Christine – CPA and most of the time she provides treasury services. I am preoccupied with County FM,
all the non profits that I serve are wondering what programs apply to them. For my business it is taking a
lot more time regarding how you apply for these programs and what the repercussions will be. They will
need advice to what they will be accountable for going forward. Also from a risk management
perspective, like how prepared will they be if there is a second wave. Bookkeepers have a difficult job
right now as a result of all of these government offers.
Lesley Knox – Welch LLP – much like James said we have carried on with business, although not as usual.
We have protocols in place for safety and have minimized face to face meetings and are maintaining
social distancing. Normally today we would be finished taxes but now we have a lot of taxes left to do by
the end of June. That causes a lot of stress as things are getting very compressed. Right now it is about
spreading the word that taxes need to be done and we will need patience from the pulbic as we will
really need clear guidance from the government agencies. One of the things that I would say, and that
may already be happening in larger city centres, I am not having any face to face meetings. Ie. Our
Ottawa office does a lot of meetings online/video conference. I believe that one of the changes may be
more virtual meetings for convenience, etc. It does pose challenges during tax time but I suggest that we
will see more of that occurring, like working from home more.
Rob Christie – Edward Jones – We are an investment firm in town. The impact is that business has been
pretty good so far. The issue will be reaching out to new people – we have been doing virtual meetings
and we are able to have face to face meetings through glass in our office.
Mike – to Rob – how are people thinking differently?
Rob – we are open in our office, not working from home. People recognize that the drop in the markets
is a reality and their reactions have been quite stoic as they realise it has affected everyone. We think
going forward that they will need to focus on their investments.
Barbara Vaughan – I wanted to follow up on Carol’s comment on advertising. People recognize they
need to keep a market presence and that they stay top of mind with their customers.
Mike to Sandy Latchford – you have the floor
Sandy – I’m very interested in hearing everyone’s perspective and I hope that businesses will retool and
reinvent themselves to cope. I appreciate that this is difficult. I am the chair of Glenwood Cemetery and
I would have be happy to not have more business. All or our fundraising events have been cancelled. We
have been tasked with hiring more staff to keep going. I would like to hear what each professional body
is telling you. We are getting weekly updates on our cemetery industry on what we need and have to
do. PPE is really scarce yet and that is a concern. She offered her email for anyone to contact her.
Lesley – PEC Chamber – there are indications that businesses that advertise during these type of times
survive better. That is why large corporations usually survive these issues and small businesses suffer.
We will be offering a shop local initiative with the Picton BIA. The more that we can communicate to our
community that we are open and available and safe the better. One thing is are there best practices that
we can learn from this industry? And is there a longterm impact from moving to more of an online
presence and is it positive or negative.
Barbara – around online presence – businesses that have not typically been online are finding they are
growing a new customer base so a lot of positives around that
Sandy Abbott – an example – my investment manager – we talk about the scary things but a couple of
times in the last 6 weeks I’ve received an email regarding what to do with kids at home. She sends those
messages out and gets a lot of positive feedback. It’s nice to know that the businesses care about how
you are doing at home. It creates a positive association with their industry.
Mike – back to Lesley’s question re: if you are looking at going forward in a different way? No hands up
so Councillor St. Jean?
Phil St. Jean – I’ve been listening and making notes and I really appreciate everyone taking the time and
coming forward to tell us their story. You are integral to the municipality forming their recovery plan.
Lesley – Karen was asking if anyone has heard anything from the real estate sector?
Mike – we are hoping to have input from them in the future
Phil Bender – I can comment really briefly, I have had some discussions with some agents. They are
essentially shut down. They’ve been instructed not to do any in person showings.
Mike – do you have sense of what the market will look like in 2020?
Phil – I don’t have a whole lot of insight other than that they are hoping that the market bounces back.
There might be a backlog of homes that might be listed once the restrictions are lifted.
Mike – we can open it up to the group
Sarah Doiron – I wanted to encourage everyone to add their listing to the shop pec site – she has heard
that people are accessing businesses they weren’t aware of before. It is still operating on a basic level
now but improvements are planned in the near future. We are hopeful it will continue to be used in the
Barbara – Thank you and I think this is a great forum for this sector and I think it would be great to have
future meetings to touch base and see how things progress
Rob Christie – some assistance with helping people get use to using webinars would be helpful.
Phil – Mike mentioned early on that Sandy Latchford is the lead on the Economic Recovery plan for the
Mayor and I strongly urge everyone to contact her. Without information we will not be able to make the
Mike – Thanks Phil, and notes have been taken (they are not transcripts) and those notes will be
Sarah D – We are sending them to all attendees, The County sends them in their departmental email and
the Chamber has them posted on their website
Mike – thank you for participating.