What a couple of weeks! Normally I would say it seems like Christmas was a few short days ago.
Not this year. It is unbelievable the changes we have been through in just a few short weeks.
Since early March, we learned what social distancing means, how to properly wash our hands and the importance of sanitizing literally everything we touch.
We’ve also learned to break our bad habits of touching our face and the new normal of avoiding shaking hands, hugs or even getting within 6 feet of each other.
This new norm has been difficult for most of us social beings but we all realize the sacrifice that we have made will result in lives being saved. And that is important!
We have been under a directive to shelter in place – pretty much since March 16.
And this has changed how we live, how we work and how we manage personal hygiene and sanitation.
If your business is anything but healthcare or grocery, you have probably taken an unexpected vacation.
The sacrifices businesses have made to help flatten the curve has been nothing but heroic.
Those of us who operate small businesses understand that turning off the business for a few weeks, or six weeks can be enough to take us out.
Fortunately, Washington has tried to help with the CARES Relief program.
If you haven’t explored the different options for small businesses, you should consider checking them out.
When Will This Be Over?
The big question everyone is asking is, when will this nightmare be over? When can we reopen our businesses and try to get back to normal?
The good news is it appears that the Shelter in Place guidance by the CDC is working.
There is even talk that within a few weeks the powers that be may even begin to slowly open up businesses in low-risk areas.
Not sure exactly what that means, but I do know that preparedness is always a good things.
Have you thought about what you need to do to get ready to open the doors again?
7 Things Your Business Should Be Doing Now To Prepare To Reopen
1. Order Supplies
We have all experienced the frustrating challenge of accessing common household supplies.
Things that no one ever thought of as a rare commodity, has been the target of hoarding.
Spend some time thinking about those important supplies your business will need.
For instance, face masks, gloves, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, disinfecting cleaners, and hand sanitizer are all things you will want to be stocked up with.
Begin making those orders to your vendors to ensure you have the adequate supplies needed for when you do finally open the doors.
2. Update Sanitation Procedures
Life as we know has changed – probably forever.
The way we look at sanitation is very different today than just a few months ago.
Good hygeine and cleanliness of everything we touch has become a matter of life and death.
Now is the time to update cleaning procedures for your business.
If you outsource cleaning, contact the vendor and ask what new standards they are using to make sure your place of work is virus-free.
If you have in house custodial help, you will want to update their job description and task lists to include routine sanitation of all commonly used surfaces.
For instance, if common practice was to sanitize counter tops at the end of every shift, a change might be to make that practice more often.
Take the time to think about your work environment and consider the foot traffic and determine the frequency for sanitizing work areas.
3. Create Social Distancing Guidelines
Businesses will most likely attempt to adhere to social distancing guidelines – at least for a while.
Translate what that means for your business and write it down.
Create a policy and procedure for social distancing so employees know exactly what the expectations are.
For instance, if you operate a restaurant, think about what those guidelines will mean for how the dining room tables are arranged.
4. Train Staff
Life for staff has changed and they need to understand what the new normal means for them.
Gather staff before you reopen and train employees on your business’ new guidelines for social distancing, sanitizing and use of protective masks and/or gloves.
Teach them what to (as well as what not to) say to customers.
Let employees help you reassure customers that your business continues to do everything possible to maintain a safe and sanitized environment.
5. Reconnect With Customers
Your customers will need to hear from you.
Hopefully you have a customer list with contact information.
Use this valuable resource to stay in touch with customers, share when you hope to reopen, and what steps your business is taking to keep them safe.
Use social platforms to connect also and communicate often.
Don’t let customers forget you are there by not communicating.
For instance, my dog is in need of a grooming.
Our groomer simply locked the door with a sign saying they are closed.
I’m not sure if or when they will reopen so I am now forced to look for another groomer.
If this business would just reach out to us we would gladly wait for them to unlock the door.
Not knowing the answer causes confusion and unfortunately, some customers will go elsewhere.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Make a point to communicate often and in detail about those things customers care about.
- When you plan to reopen;
- What you are doing to keep your establishment virus-free;
- How to contact you with questions;
- The extent of service limitations – at least temporarily.
6. Do A Promotion
Now is when you will want to do a promotion to get customers back in the door.
Be creative and plan a promotion that will encourage customers to come back.
Offer something for free, a BOGO option, or sponsor a drawing that will entice people to step through your doors.
7. Plan A Celebration
I don’t know about you but I will be jumping up and down when I can finally access my favorite restaurant, boutique and nail salan.
Plan a celebration and share the joy when customers can finally return.
We can all say we’ve gotten a little lazy with the stay at home guidelines.
But there is not a person out there who isn’t ready to get back to work and ready to enjoy the services and products of our great small business community!
Take the time to plan now so that when that day finally comes when you can resume business you will be well-stocked and prepared to welcome your customers back!