While in social isolation, many business owners, especially sole proprietors and small business owners, are finding it extremely difficult to continue running a business. However, social isolation restrictions are easing and businesses are beginning to operate properly again. Is your business ready? Will your business weather the inevitable social changes that will occur as people will want to work and shop differently from pre-isolation norms? The following tips will help you to prepare your business for resuming operations post-isolation.
Tip 1 - Plan When You Will Resume Operations
Memphis and Shelby County implemented a plan for staged reductions in social isolation as we continue to fight to suppress the coronavirus. We are currently in Phase II. Some businesses were able to resume operations in the earlier stages of returning to normal business, but others face restrictions for longer. You may be able to resume some operations sooner than others, so you may need to plan for a staged return to business.
For example, a gym owner may be able to offer personal training or small group outdoor exercise sessions in an earlier stage of easing isolation restrictions, but not be allowed to re-open full gym facilities until much later.
Work out a plan for which areas of business will return first, so you can be ready when restrictions ease. You can also let staff know at which stage they can reasonably expect to be able to return to duties.
Tip 2 - Plan How to Market Your Re-opening
You may want to hold a special re-opening ceremony or provide specials for your customers as they return to your business. You will need to consider how to tell your old customers that you are open for business operations and consider how to encourage new customers too. If you are opening in stages, with some operations opening sooner than others, you will need to be able to inform your customers of these changes.
Post-isolation business may change, as you may have fewer competitors than prior to COVID-19 isolation measures, or you may find some suppliers have closed and won't reopen. This may impact both your marketing plan and operations. You may not be able to plan for this completely, but you can plan for some contingencies and have your communication and marketing plans ready for re-opening.
Plan your methods of communication, write the blogs and e-newsletters in preparation for re-opening your business. You can even design and prepare your social media campaigns ready to implement at the right time. You may decide to send out some blogs or e-newsletters during the period of isolation to keep in touch with your customers and to let them know you intend to re-open when social isolation restrictions ease. Then, when you are ready to re-open, you will have the marketing and communications to your customers ready to go.
Tip 3 - Consider How Business Generally Will Change Post-Isolation
Staff who have successfully worked from home during this time of social isolation may prefer to keep working from home, or at least have one or two days at home where commuting stress and time is taken out of the work equation, leaving greater time for work-life balance. If you have staff members who can reasonably work from home some of the time, you may like to consider if you will offer such options in the post-isolation business.
You may also find that shopping habits of customers change. Social isolation has forced more people to order items online for home delivery, many for the first time. If you run a retail store, you may find that online ordering is an essential area for your business to develop, if you haven't already. You may need to change how many staff members are available for face to face shopping and give other staff jobs in the packing area to cater for online shoppers.
Post-isolation business may be quite different to pre-isolation business, and all business owners will need to be prepared to adjust the way operations are done. You may want to consider new ways of offering goods and services to your customers, or even find new goods and services you can branch into. Planning for the changes you can implement will help your business in the post-isolation business world. You may not be able to prepare for all changes, but even starting to think about post-isolation business will help you to make good decisions for your business.
Tip 4 - Plan for Changes to Health and Hygiene
Even if you plan to re-open your business in the last stage of social isolation restrictions easing, you may need to change how some operations are done in your business. Customers will expect higher levels of health awareness and especially hygiene in the future. You may need to write or change current operating procedures to include better hygiene practices. You may need to supply places for hand washing or at least hand sanitizer for staff and customers.
You may need to implement more stringent cleaning practices, so that customers can touch handrails or items around your place of business without fear of infection. You will want to show customers that it is safe to use your business, so putting changes in place to show extra attention to the details of health and hygiene will benefit your business in the post-isolation business world. You may need signage or ways to communicate these changes to staff and customers too.
While no-one knows exactly what the post-isolation business world will look like at this stage, you can certainly take steps to prepare for re-opening your business and working towards running a successful business in the future. Much of the planning can be done now, so that when government restrictions are eased, you will be ready to restart your business as soon as possible.