The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a scary time in the business world. Thousands of businesses have shut down due to a lack of customers, business litigation, and illness. When you aren’t worried about the safety of your customers and workers, you are wondering when or if you will get to reopen your doors.
What’s worse is that the determination on your reopening date is dependent on a slew of varying guidelines at both the local and federal level.
Depending on your location, you may have barely closed your doors when local mandates required you to reopen. Alternatively, it may be another few months before you can successfully restart your business. whether you are planning to open your doors in a few days or simply preparing for the future, here are some important tips to keep in mind to streamline your return to work plan.
Learn to be Flexible
If there is one trait that can help you through the stress of closing and reopening a business, it is flexibility. This might mean transitioning some employees into a work-from-home position, implementing mobile offices, adjusting interior design elements, altering products and services, or much more.
Allow yourself to ride the waves of change that come with Covid-19 and changes to local laws.
What are mobile offices?
Mobile office spaces are temporary buildings that can be transported to virtually any location. They’re built to be functional work areas and can be custom designed to allow appropriate separation among workers to maintain the necessary distance for local health regulations.
Many businesses that do not have the space or finances to create new, safe work environments have been implementing mobile offices as a way to kick start reopening their doors.
Redesign your space to keep everyone safe.
Some businesses, like restaurants or other customer-facing trades, may not find the idea of a temporary office building of much use. Instead, these companies may consider implementing small changes to the design of the interior of their buildings to maintain safe boundaries between workers, customers, and commonly used surfaces.
For restaurants and stores, the use of plexiglass barriers which can be screwed directly to the front of counters has been one popular way of preventing Infectious spreads. Covering food and other consumable products with extended barriers is also important for public safety.
Many restaurants and stores have even provided gloves and masks that patrons are required to use before touching items within the building. Remember, mild inconveniences in the name of public safety may be necessary for the continuation of the success of your business through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adjust products and services
One of the most difficult parts of closing and reopening a business in the midst of the pandemic is addressing the potential change to your cost of goods. As materials are routed for use to create personal protective gear and shipping times are greatly delayed, the prices and turnaround times you are used to may be drastically different.
Before opening your doors, look into your suppliers. Are they still open for business?
Have their costs changed?
You may need to rework not only your entire operating budget but your planned inventory as well.
Reduce overhead through telecommuting.
Many small businesses have contributed their success after closing and reopening a business to transitioning a portion or all of their workers to remote positions. This means allowing their workers to continue to do their job from their own home or office space.
The trend of working from home or running a business through telecommunication Is a trend that began growing before Covid-19. However, guidelines and regulations during the pandemic have really sparked a massive increase in those numbers.
Many companies have found that any time lost through the adjustment period when transitioning to telecommunication is significantly less costly than remaining closed or losing workers due to illness. In fact, allowing your employees to work from home can also greatly lower your company’s overhead regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pay Close Attention to Changing Guidelines
The guidelines surrounding Coivd-19 and public safety are constantly changing as we learn more about the virus and the scope of the pandemic. This is why it is vital to constantly research updated information on the subject.
While it may be safe to let 10-15 people into your establishment today, tomorrow you may learn that number is dramatically different. For the most up-to-date information, check the websites for the CDC and the Small Business Administration.
These government agencies can provide real-time information to changes regarding the best ways to keep your employees and customers safe.
Additionally, check your local government’s website for guidelines specific to your area. These websites can also keep you up to date on changes to offers for relief benefits, loans, and grants.
Prioritize Safety and Sanitation
Closing and reopening a business due to Covid-19 comes with a large concern for sanitation. Before jumping into work, take an assessment of areas of your building will need regular sanitation and cleaning.
Here are a few areas that you shouldn’t overlook:
- light switches
- tables and chairs
- doorknobs and locks
- faucet handles or knobs
- keyboards, mice, and track-pads
- touch screen devices
- cabinets and counters
Essentially, any location that may be touched by one or more people should receive regular sanitation. If you are working with communal areas that are used too frequently to realistically sanitize between each use, implement the use of gloves or other protective equipment.
Don’t Forget to Advertise
Times are strange for everyone. Your most loyal of customers have also been dealing with the oddity of quarantine and may not think to go looking for businesses that have reopened. This is why the use of an advertising agency may be helpful.
Professional advertisers can help evaluate the strongest way to reach out to your customer base to let them know:
- When you are opening
- What changes you have made
- Why they can trust coming to your business
Let your consumers know that you take their well-being seriously and explain how you plan to keep them safe.
Marketing/ Promotional Material Ideas
Through the stress of closing and reopening a business, you may not want to waste time researching the best marketing materials. To save you some time, here is a list of the 5 top-performing promotional items and marketing techniques for customer-facing businesses.
- Social Media Marketing: A great way to reach out to your target market, especially now when everyone is stuck at home.
- Custom Printed Tshirts: Customers love sporting good-looking, customize shirts, which is a great way to get your name out there.
- Brochures: Pamphlets that give a menu-style view of your services and offerings are a quick way of selling your company to potential customers.
- Portable Drink-ware: Tumblers and other portable cups are trendy and useful – the perfect combination to ensure your branded item is actually used and not tossed in the trash.
- Business Cards: A tried and true option, business cards are perfect for easily providing important contact in company information to potential clients/ customers.
Focus on a Content-Filled Website
We’ve talked a lot about customer-facing companies, but even those who primarily focus on business sales should follow this marketing tip: focus on filling your website with relevant content as an SEO strategy.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important to the success of your business because it increases the likelihood that your website will pop up in potential customers’ search results. In the past, the main way to boost search result rankings was through keyword stuffing. However, current research and feedback from marketers have shown that simply filling your website with well-written, relevant content is the most effective SEO tactic.
Study up on Worker’s Comp Insurance
No matter how safe you think your job is, there is a chance one of your employees may contract the coronavirus. As laws and regulations regarding the pandemic change, you may find yourself paying direct wages to workers due to a lack of Covid-19 coverage by your worker’s compensation insurer.
Workers comp lawyers are working overtime to ensure that if there is a possibility an employee was infected at work, that they receive compensation. Before reopening, be certain to ensure your insurance covers your employees in the event that they contract this virus.
Avoiding Other Work Place Safety Hazards
Outside of infection, other workplace hazards arise with closing and reopening a business. From the change in routine causing attention failures to protective gear causing tripping hazards, there are a lot of small things that might increase the risk of injury in the workplace.
To avoid this, create a plan for safety training and health guidelines that can be provided to your employees before they reenter the workplace. Show them the proper way to remain safe and injury-free to help avoid senseless accidents.
For advice on specific areas of training required for your line of business, consider reaching out to a work injury attorney.
Additional Changes To Consider
When it comes down to it, optimizing your establishment for safety and convenience are the best ways to survive closing and reopening a business. We have covered some of the main ways to achieve this, but here are a few additional ideas that you might find helpful.
Customize Personal Protective Gear
Face masks are a must for remaining healthy and safe during the pandemic, but disposable options are expensive. Additionally, masks can clash with uniforms and business decor. Many companies have opted for issuing washable cloth masks to employees that bolster their logo.
It is a fun way to keep employees looking great and reducing the eerie feeling that some feel when they see others wearing masks.
If you don’t have a merchandiser already lined up, there are online printing companies that can print your custom masks for you. If you need a quicker turnaround, consider checking with local seamstresses.
Implement Delivery Services
Unsurprisingly, the use of delivery services has increased greatly during the pandemic. If you own a restaurant or store and haven’t already partnered with one of these companies, you may be missing out on greatly increasing your customer base.
Citizens who are elderly, immunodeficient, or increasingly sensitive to Covid-19 may be an unreachable market unless you provide them with safer purchasing options like delivery.
If third part-couriers are not available to you, you might consider hiring your own in-house delivery drivers. To use this option after closing and reopening a business, remember to:
- Change your POS system to allow for delivery services.
- Train delivery personnel on the best practices for safely delivering products.
- Purchase appropriate supplies for deliveries. (hot bags, spill-proof containers, etc.)
- Properly vet the driving record of potential delivery drivers.
- Create a delivery-specific menu. You may want to remove items that cannot be safely delivered to avoid complaints and refunds.
Outsourcing is not always a good thing for a company. Many business professionals find that outsourcing increases a company’s competition doesn’t lower costs, and can lead to security breaches. This is why some companies are finding success and safety through a reduction in outsourced services.
If this sounds like something that could help you after closing and reopening a business, consider learning how to complete specialized tasks like accounting, printing services, and data entry within the company. This not only reduces the need to come in contact with other companies but can save your company money during these tumultuous times.
You may even find that including these services into your repertoire expands your service options in the future. To get started, look for good deals on learning materials, supplies, or equipment. For instance, industrial inkjet printer parts can be purchased refurbished or as spare pieces to lower the cost.
Closing and reopening a business isn’t anybody’s idea of a fun time but is something that must be done to ensure the survival of small businesses and the general public. The intricate dance between providing services and keeping the community safe is something that can be mastered with a little preparation.
Everyone is trying to navigate the changing world after Covid-19. Citizens together with businesses can start working together to create a safe way to get things as close to normal as they can be. Remember to focus on creating a plan before you flip over that open sign, and soon you will be back into the swing of running your business.