There is light at the end of this COVID tunnel. People are getting vaccinated and businesses are starting to open up again. Whether you stayed open in some capacity this past year, or are just now opening your doors again we have collected some tips on how to make this transition safely and effectively.
Use your time now to develop a plan for your reopening the first 3 months. Consider what you have learned during this time that will benefit you and your business in the future. A couple ways you can do this is:
- Define goals and create a to-do list of items with target deadlines.
- Develop and refine your disaster plan. Unfortunately as we’ve learned through this experience, disasters can happen to anyone and it’s a matter of “when” not “if” one will occur. Use this time to prepare for the next potential business interruption.
A successful relaunch and recovery of your business will depend on your ability to retain talent. Make employee engagement a priority. Many small businesses treat their employees like family. Thank them for hanging in there and acknowledge the financial and mental stress the pandemic has caused them. Some other ways to prepare for the return of employees are:
- Consider your reopening hours. Come up with a plan that is fluid for what schedules might look like under several different operating models.
- Continue to stay in close communication with your team and share your plan with them when ready. Sharing your reopening plan reminds your team that they are a key factor in the success of your business.
- Have a safety plan in place for their return.
Hopefully you have been communicating with your vendors throughout all of this. Remember your vendors are an important part of the team. Review your current inventory as compared to what you project your sales may be when you reopen. Initially cash flow will be tight, so talk with vendors now about payment options. Many of your vendors may be willing to consider 30, 45 or even 60 day payment options on any new orders. Remember they want you to succeed as well – you are their customer!
If you want to prepare for those and other expenses there are options available to small businesses through SBA loans. Make sure you know all of your options and contact your local lender for details.
It most likely will take more than a “We Are Open” sign to get customers back in the door. Customers may still be hesitant to be out in public. Start off with the basics such as making sure your establishment is fresh, clean and organized. Some ways you can do this is by:
- Re-engineer the physical space of your business to facilitate physical distancing among employees and between customers.
- Evaluate ways that protect employee and customer safety that make each comfortable interacting.
- Depending on your business make sure, for example, that inventory is stocked, menus are updated, and you and your employees are ready to provide outstanding service.
- Show you appreciate your customers through welcome back promotions, offering new services, and remembering to always thank them for their business.
When Baltimore-based sportswear maker Under Armour, which has more than 180 North American retail stores that have been closed since last March, announced reopening plans they took this under consideration. To keep workers and customers protected, stores reduced hours, added new cleaning protocols and hand sanitizer stations, limited the number of people allowed in-store, held returned products for 72 hours before allowing them to be sold, and closed all fitting rooms and enforce mask-wearing for customers and employees according to the US Chamber.
Prepare a projected income statement. Remember this is a projection but this exercise will help you be better prepared for fluctuations in cash flow. .
- Statements should be broken down by months.
- Include projected sales and all expenses.
- Develop several scenarios that reflect what it may look like when you are back in business.
- Make sure you are taking advantage of all of the small business loan programs that are out there. These were designed to help small businesses survive and get back on their feet after this is over.
Flagship Bank proudly stands by all of our small businesses in the Twin Cities and will continue to serve them in any way we can. If you need more information or have questions please contact us. We are here for you Minnesota. Let's get back to business!