Coming Out of Quarantine
Things to Consider as You Reopen Your Business
Reopening. Are you reading this word with mixed feelings? On one hand, relief. Relief that things may start to get back to “normal”. On the other hand, fear. Fear that there is no “normal”, or the steps to take to get back to where you started pre-COVID are big and numerous. Fear of the unknown, a second peak. Maybe employee safety or customer safety still concern you. Whether your business has been impacted a lot or a little by the pandemic, there are decisions to be made as the world reopens for day-to-day business.
Above all, be clear about the federal and state reopening guidelines. Familiarize yourself with which businesses are able to be back up and running as they relate to not only the federal guidelines, but at state and municipal levels as well. Understand the consequences for opening too early, or in an unsafe way. You must be comfortable with the regulations as well. Ultimately, it is your call as the business operator to determine the course of action and setting the expectations for your staff and customers.
Your employees are your family. As a small business, the company’s success is their success. As the leader of the organization, you have a responsibility to understand their needs, concerns, questions and suggestions on how to safely and smartly reopen. They will need to know what changes are being taken to ensure their individual safety, as well as how they will be responsible for customer, vendor or supplier safety.
Communication will be key as everyone navigates the path to the new way to operate. Be clear on the expectations in regards to office set-up, sanitation, remote schedules, and interaction with anyone outside of the office. Some questions to consider as you discuss getting back to the work site, or office:
- What will your sanitation practices be?
- Are employees ready and able to get back into work?
- How will you handle remote working if that is an option?
All the planning in the world to reopen won’t work if you don’t take care of your customers as well. Your customers are likely expecting operations to be a little different. These are the times customers will value transparency and communication. They will appreciate knowing everything about what to expect when you’re back up and running.
Creating clear marketing messaging and FAQ pages on your website will help to answer questions up front. EY recommends creating a marketing plan centered around the following areas:
- Omnichannel marketing to ensure reach
- Prioritized response to customer questions and concerns
- Detailed FAQ to explain reopening
- Proactive outreach to clients and customers
Taking the time to rethink your current business will ease the reopening process and give a higher level of confidence that you’re prepared. The world will probably never look exactly the same as the pre-pandemic landscape. So, take some time to determine how solid your current business is to recession proofing, as well as identifying areas of opportunity. On top of these, give yourself a back-up plan in case you need to suddenly pivot from what you’ve planned.
Whether you had to completely rethink your business during the virus or not, it’s always a good idea to have contingency plans. Look around corners for areas of opportunity, new revenue streams, or ways to improve your operational efficiency. You may not need to change anything in the long run, but having a plan will give you peace of mind and put you one step ahead in case you do need to make some adjustments.
Review your financing to make sure you are prepared for future changes in revenue or sales. A Forbes article on 6 Strategies to Recession Proof Your Business points out that it’s better to have the financing you need up front rather than try to secure financing once you’ve taken a downturn. Lending regulations may get stricter, your credit score may change, your financials may not look as appetizing, or lower rates may be more difficult to find as a recession hits. In addition, it takes time to get approved for funding. Being proactive will ensure you have the funding when you may need it.
Like Ross from Friends says, “Pivot”! While the world may be getting back to a new level of normal, there is still a lot of unknown out there. Being ready to pivot, or adjust your business plans and strategy will be necessary. The US Chamber of Commerce suggests seeking feedback from your employees, vendors and customers on how things are going. Listen to their suggestions and make the necessary adjustments. Keep lines of communication open.
If you’ve built your contingency plans, identified opportunity areas and are communicating with your employees and customers, you’re doing the right things. Be flexible, be willing to adjust. There’s a lot of 2020 left to play out!