In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many local and federal governments across the country have ordered businesses to temporarily close their doors to the public. If you’re a small business owner, it might be time to start building a contingency plan, should your business have to close. Here are some strategies to consider.
Change or Update Your Operating Policies
If you own a customer-facing business, you may consider limiting the hours that you remain open or offering a smaller-than-usual selection of items for purchase. For instance, if you’re a restaurant, you may decide to skip breakfast and lunch, and only open for dinner.
In addition to limiting the hours that you operate, you might also consider serving fewer people at a time. If you still offer a sit-down dining experience, for instance, you may halve the number of tables that you have, in order to make it possible for guests to practice social distancing. You might also follow the example of many restaurants and exclusively offer takeout and delivery. Many restaurants in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey have switched to a takeout only business plan.
When you choose to limit the way you do business, it’s important to make your customer base aware of your new method of operation. Pay-per-click advertising and social media advertising promoting discounts and deals can help bring attention to your new business practices.
Whatever new approaches you try, it’s important that you analyze how much financial sense they make. If your sales amount to so little that the costs of keeping your workers employed exceed what you make, it would be sensible to temporarily shut down, simply pay rent, and conserve your capital to weather the pandemic until it runs out of steam.
Revamp Your Strategy
It’s important during COVID-19 to limit human interaction at your place of business as much as possible. To minimize potential virus exposure, postpone all activities that involve bringing people together. For instance, if you own a real estate business, consider setting up virtual open houses for a while. Or maybe have small showings for individual families by appointment only.
Businesses that rely on providing customers with a good in-store experience can also pivot to an e-commerce model. If you have e-commerce operations in place already, you can ramp up involvement with more advertising, more warehouse employees, and better delivery. If you don’t have an e-commerce presence at the moment, it could be a good time to start. Once orders are placed, decide on the safest course for delivery.
If your business offers a service that requires in-person interaction (perhaps you own a legal firm, home repair contractor, or a physical therapy clinic) you need to comply with all CDC guidelines, and let your customers or clients know that you’re doing everything necessary to keep them safe and healthy.
Look Out for Your Employees
Most small business owners appreciate their employees, and understand how crucial they are to the day-to-day operations. If this pandemic disrupts your business in a significant way, it’s important to think about how it will change your employees’ livelihoods. It might be a good idea to offer paid time off to anyone who becomes ill. Such an announcement could help ease your employees’ concerns, and also help ensure that they don’t infect other people in the workplace.
While you may not have definitive answers to every question that your employees have about the future, it can help to offer whatever information you do have, and be fully transparent.
Apply for Relief Assistance
Local, state, and federal governments are offering relief assistance to business owners during the pandemic. For information visit our article “What Your Small Business Need to Know About the CARES Act“.
Leading your business through this pandemic could, and mostly is, already challenging, but there examples set by other businesses, and government resources to help you successfully make your way through it. Try your hardest to be agile in the way your business responds to these challenges.