Re-opening after a COVID-19 closure is not as simple as unlocking the door and turning on the lights. Business owners like you have to answer a wide range of questions from is it time to re-open to how comfortable will my customers be?
Here are five top level requirements you need to consider as you plan your business restart.
Finances: For many, the biggest problem after being shut down is financing. Paying for basic operating expenses like rent and utilities come before any thought of re-opening. Check your budget, determine the minimum amount of money you’ll need to get the lights back on. If you’re coming up short consider financial aid programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), disaster assistance loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the employee retention tax credit available under the CARES Act.
Staffing: As a business owner you care about your employees, but realize that if you had to lay off or furlough employees you might not be able to bring everyone back at full capacity at the beginning. You may be able to offer most of your employees limited hours, or your business might be better served by bringing back key personal at regular hours. With a lot of hard work and a little luck you may be able to slowly add additional employees as customers and orders picks up again.
Work Place Health and Safety: You know your business depends on your staff and employees. Help them feel confident they’re returning to a safe environment. Let them know you take their health and well being seriously. Be sure they are aware of and understand the plans and policies you’ve developed regarding PPE and employee health monitoring. Always the time to answer any questions or concerns your staff may have on procedures, applications or directions.
Customers’ Needs: Your customers’ have been impacted by COVID-19 as much as you have. Their needs and priorities are likely to have changed due to their own financial, health and family related stresses. Think creatively on how your business products or services can help solve the challenges we’re facing in a COVID-19 world. You may need to adapt, update, or even change your core products and services.
Communication: You will need to sharpen your communication skills. Employees, customers, and vendors will all need to learn about your re-opening plans, policies and procedures. Each audience needs a tailored approach to make sure they get the message. Make sure you set clear and accurate expectations with those your business will interact with so they know what to expect as you work through your reopening plan.
For a full, detailed guide to reopening read: Ready to Reopen: A Playbook for Your Small Business from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
State-By-State Guidelines available at U.S. Chamber of Commerce State-By_State Business Reopening Guidance
Get the latest CDC guidance on reopening here
View OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 here.
Read the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s Back To Work Safely™ guidelines for industries.