Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, it’s normal to have anxiety and fears about reopening your business, especially if it’s been closed for a substantial period of time. Whether your business has been shuttered entirely over the past few months or you’ve been operating in a limited capacity and are returning to a more “business as usual” scenario, it’s important to consider all angles of your business before you fully reopen to the public.
Here are 6 tips to help ensure a smooth and safe reopening for your employees and community:
1.) Review Your Business Model
Prior to the economic shutdown, you may not have thought you’d need to reconsider your business model, but given how much the world has changed in just a few short months, it may be wise to do so. It’s possible that you may need to adapt your business to some degree to ensure its profitability, and to keep your employees and patrons safe from COVID-19.
Fortunately, we live in an era of technological advancement. With such a huge number of resources available, you’ll be hard pressed to find a valid reason why you can’t adjust your business to meet the current needs of the world. Consider the following:
Most businesses can benefit from creating an “online storefront” on their website, where customers can order goods or schedule an appointment. Offering contactless pickup can also be a beneficial feature. If you’re a service provider, you might consider conducting consultations and meetings via phone or video conference whenever possible.
- What do you sell or what service do you provide?
- Do you sell to businesses or consumers?
- Do you need to conduct business face to face?
- Can you sell your products/services online?
- Do you have a way of communicating changes with your clients?
2.) Evaluate Your Costs
While it may be tempting to immediately cut a variety of optional costs, it’s important to look at the potential long term effects of doing so. For example, if you decide to cut your business’ marketing expenses right off the bat, you may find yourself struggling to reach your existing customers and prospective new ones. And without a strong customer base, your business is likely to have a hard time surviving and thriving during this pandemic.
A good rule of thumb is to run financial projections to understand what you absolutely cannot afford to continue funding. Before you pull the plug on anything, reach out to your providers and see if there is anything they can do to keep your business. Many of your vendors may be in a similar situation, and may not be able to afford to lose too many clients. It’s very possible that they could offer similar services to you at a reduced rate.
3.) Keep Your Employees Top of Mind
If your business has been closed or running in a significantly reduced capacity, you likely have many employees whom have been out of work for quite some time. And if you had staff working from home during the height of the pandemic, they’ve probably grown used to that new work routine. Keep in mind that it will be a challenge to bring your team back to their previous work environment, especially with ongoing concerns about the number of COVID-19 cases.
Reach out to all of your employees before resuming “business as usual” and make an effort to understand their current situation. Some of your staff may have accepted other employment opportunities and others may be hesitant to come off of unemployment. As you reassemble your team, ensure that your employees are ready to take health and safety seriously.
4.) Communicate With Vendors
While your business may be reopening, your typical vendors and supply chain may not be in operation. If they are, they could be operating at limited levels. You should reach out to your usual vendors and find out if you will be able to keep your business adequately stocked and serviced. If your current vendors are unable to meet your needs, you may need to seek out new ones. Remember to review your current finances and consider all options before making any immediate decisions.
5.) Consider Your Local Resources
Many business owners took advantage of federal Paycheck Protection Program loans in order to keep their businesses alive during the early months of the pandemic. But remember that the help doesn’t end there. You should do some research to see what resources and financial assistance might be available to you at a local level. You’d be surprised at how many options there are to get the funds you need to get you back to business. In addition, many organizations are offering free counseling and mentoring in order to help small business owners.
6.) Take Your Time
While reopening your business is likely your top priority, it is not a decision to be rushed. You need to make sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself and those who will enter your storefront. Consider as many contactless options as possible and ensure you have a reliable supply chain. Otherwise, you may find yourself closing up your doors again.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a tough on everyone, but small businesses have been especially hard hit. We here at BankFive are committed to helping local business owners in Massachusetts and Rhode Island navigate the reopening process and overcome these challenging times. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Business Lending experts to see what we can do to help your small business.