The past few months have been incredibly hard on small businesses, but many that have so far managed to weather the storm are looking to execute their game plans for opening their doors. If the time has come for you to reopen your small business to customers, here are six things you'll need to keep in mind.
1. Do a deep clean
Before reopening, it is imperative that you engage in a deep cleaning of your facility. Do everything you can to sanitize all areas to ensure your office and/or store are completely clear of coronavirus.
The CDC has guidance1 you can follow in case you're not sure where to start or how to conduct a thorough cleaning that meets today’s strict standards. This includes (but is not limited to) tips on:
It's important to maintain a high standard of cleanliness for the safety of yourself, your staff and customers, as well as showing everyone that you're taking the current situation seriously.
2. Get cleaning and safety policies in order
A deep clean prior to reopening is an important step, but it shouldn’t end there. You'll need to keep up this high standard as time goes on, and that means regular deep cleanings as well as new policies on cleaning and safety.
Be sure to keep up with guidelines offered by the CDC2 and OSHA/HHS3. For example, recent changes to CDC guidance include:
3. Get your employees working again
Another important step to reopening is bringing your employees back. If you had to conduct layoffs or furloughs, it's time to make some calls and get your workers back to help you get back to business. If you received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan as part of the federal government's CAREs act, that money is primarily for keeping your employees on payroll and/or rehiring those you had to let go as a result of the economic effects of the coronavirus. Even if you did not receive one of these loans, talk with your bank about other loan options if you need assistance to stay in business.
4. Be prepared for high volume in customer service
If your business has been shut down for a while, and you're ready to reopen, you should expect to have a lot of questions and concerns from customers. Everybody is trying to figure out the new norm together, and rightfully, people will want to know about how you're handling safety and what types of changes you have made.
When people find out that you are open again and they are ready to go out and give you their business, they're likely to be calling, sending messages on social media and asking lots of questions. You should be prepared for a higher-than-usual volume of customer service and make sure employees are prepared to answer the types of questions they will be asked. It's also not a bad idea to address as many frequently asked questions as you can on your website and social media channels.
5. Figure out adjustments to your business model
Hopefully, you've used your downtime to evaluate your current business model, and have either deemed that it is sustainable as the economy reopens or have come up with some changes that can help you either get by until things improve or open up a new way forward for the long term.4 While you should always be looking for ways to improve and adapt, you should be thinking hard about this in these early days of reopening. If changes to your product/service offerings or your operations are needed, try to have these ironed out the best you can before opening the doors.
6. Set up an emergency fund
If COVID-19 has taught us anything about business, it's that a crisis can quickly have catastrophic effects. It's hard to say that any business was truly prepared for the havoc wreaked by COVID-19, but there's no question that having an emergency fund would have helped any business that had to suddenly shut down for a period of time. Use what you've learned from the past several months and start saving as much as possible. The fact of the matter is that even as businesses reopen, nobody truly knows what the future has in store. Help prepare your business for future financial hardships.
Things are going to be different for the foreseeable future, and changes will be in order, but as long as you are taking the necessary precautions and are able to adapt, you can get back to business and be there for your customers and employees alike.
For resources and information on how California Bank & Trust can help your small business during this time, please visit https://www.calbanktrust.com/cares. [cite::171::cite] [cite::172::cite]