The coronavirus has brought extraordinary change to almost every aspect of daily life.
“Business as usual” is no longer usual. Businesses all over the United States have found creative ways to serve customers while maintaining social distancing, while others have shut the doors temporarily.
As the country recovers – medically and economically – will business as usual be possible when doors open again?
Once the United States reopens for business, you may experience a pent-up demand for your products and services. On the other hand, customers may be reluctant to visit your establishment or invest in an uncertain economy. As part of restarting your business, take time to review your business plan and consider the changing needs and expectations of your customers. Careful preparation can lead to a successful re-opening with few surprises.
These six tips might help your business transition to a post-lockdown economy.
1. Take Time To Reconnect
Reconnect with management or key employees to create a plan for re-opening. Take advantage of virtual meetings to reconnect. This is an opportunity to review the state of your business, and rethink the business plan to anticipate future challenges.
Evaluate your business plan, focusing on cash reserves, technology capabilities, access to capital and insurance needs. What seemed important earlier may not be essential after you re-open. This is the time to make changes for long-term sustainability.
2. End What Doesn’t Work
Take the opportunity to discontinue practices that are inefficient, that neither grow revenue nor reduce costs. Just because you’ve always done something one way, doesn’t mean it’s still the best option.
Start with an open mind and create procedures that make sense for today’s business environment. Envision the new normal. Has the industry changed? Are your customers’ needs different? How can changes be implemented to benefit current and potential customers? Does this practice ensure stability for your business?
3. Seek Out Help
Local community organizations, as well as state and national governments, have programs to help businesses get back on solid financial ground.
Check out Small Business Administration (SBA) programs and local assistance for financial support. Get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce and service organizations. Don’t hesitate to reach out to mentors and trusted resources for encouragement.
Once your business plan is updated, it’s time to put it into action. If significant changes are needed, be prepared for disruption as you settle into new processes and policies for doing business.
4. Reboot The System – The Evaluation Process
Changes – big or small – can be challenging. Remain positive and open minded about revamping strategy and business processes in a changed business environment.
If layoffs were necessary during the COVID-19 shutdown, evaluate staffing needs based on the updated business plan. Determine whether current headcount meets current and future needs, while sustaining your margin. With layoffs occurring in other industries, there may be experienced, well-qualified applicants for your open positions.
5. Diversify Products and Services
Customers may be familiar with your products and services. And over time, you may have built up loyalty with your brand and reputation.
However, simply restocking your shelves with customer favorites may not be enough to keep existing customers or attract new customers. Adding new products and expanding service offerings helps you stay relevant to your customers and ensures long-term growth. Investing in new equipment can be key to diversification for rebuilding and expanding your customer base.
6. Communicate Often and Openly
It has never been more important to connect with loyal customers and dedicated staff. They will be the foundation as you restore your business.
Unlike natural disasters that effect only parts of the country, the COVID-19 crisis is worldwide.
Everyone understands. Let your customers know you’re ready to get back to business and support their needs. Consider how the situation has affected them and their need for your products and services. Up your marketing game and utilize social media to communicate changes.
In Conclusion: Reopen Stronger
The lessons learned during any crisis often provide the silver lining in an otherwise bleak situation.
Use this opportunity to shape the business into what you always imagined it could be. Your updated plans and goals will be a blueprint to make it happen.
Communities are rallying to support small businesses during this time. Neighbors helping neighbors and charities reaching out to help those in need. And it’s safe to say that we will never be the same as a nation. Embrace the new normal as a chance for your business to grow and thrive.
Learn how Stearns Bank can help your small business right now.