Business re-opening after COVID-19 – What’s next for your business?
The world came to a standstill when COVID-19 took hold, with many businesses having to close temporarily, or sadly, for good.
However, with lockdown rules across Australia gradually being relaxed, many businesses are preparing to reopen their doors to the public after adhering to strict business lockdown procedures.
With new rules in place and a change in employee and customer behaviors, there are many things to consider before deciding to reopen your business.
We take you through some of the vital steps business owners must take to ensure the safety of their employees and reopen their business successfully after Covid-19.
Protect Your Business and Revenue
Many businesses lost thousands during the pandemic, and some sadly may never recover. However, there are a few things to consider to help you get your business back on track.
Re-evaluate Your Expenses
Recalculate overhead expenses and, where appropriate, cut costs as a temporary solution.
The goal is to rebuild your business and recoup your losses, so be careful when considering cuts as these may affect your chances to increase revenue.
You may wish to change vendors to a cheaper alternative, or your vendor may have gone into liquidation and so you may be forced to change.
Restructure Your Business Model
To increase the chances of financial growth, you may need to restructure your business model.
Does your original business plan still make sense given the changing landscape of your industry? Look at the costs of what you sell and how you deliver your goods or services to your consumers. For example, you may choose to change supplier or vendor to save money.
You may wish to implement or increase delivery options, such as providing a takeaway service if you own a restaurant. Now that consumer behaviours are changing, your business model may need adjusting to fit with their requirements.
Protect Your Employees and Customers
The health and safety of your employees and customers as a business owner is paramount. In order to protect them and your business as a result, it is vital to keep informed and follow strict guidelines.
Educate Your Employees
It is important to educate your staff by staying informed about changing trends and government guidelines. With a lot of information out there, Government agencies and public health organizations are the best places to find accurate, reputable information on how to reopen your business.
If your business requires staff to wear PPE, it is a necessary requirement to train them on how to wear the protective equipment correctly and safely.
Encourage employees and customers who are not feeling well to stay home, even if their symptoms are mild.
You may even choose to test staff members before allowing them to come into work. Develop a plan for monitoring your employees’ health and any symptoms they may have. Take another look at your sick time and paid time off policies for your employees and discourage them from coming to work if they feel ill.
Clean, Clean, Clean
Organise a deep clean of your premises before opening to ensure that any risk of contamination is eliminated. Once open, general hygiene practices must be in place such as sanitising hands, surfaces, and communal areas.
Staff should be shown how to do this correctly and should be done as a regular routine. You will also need to make sure that you have enough cleaning products and sanitizer stock.
Proper ventilation is an important part of keeping your staff safe but avoid fans and air conditioning as this can increase the spread of germs.
Business owners are required to ensure that social distancing can take place if they are to open. In Australia, people are required to stay at least 1.5 metres apart, and therefore venues may need to restructure their layout in order to adhere to this. The amount of people you can have in your venue at one time will depend on how many square feet your property is and so it is vital to know this.
Depending on the type of business you run, you may choose to consider installing physical barriers between employees and customers. Ensure that these are cleaned down regularly also.
You may also decide to limit the amount of staff allowed on shift at one time, staggering their breaks and closing communal areas to encourage social distancing.
Consider Taking Out a Business Loan
If you are struggling financially, taking out a small business loan can help you kickstart your business again. Getting a loan can be a quick way to help fund your business needs if you are eligible. This money could be put towards marketing, retaining experienced employees, and possibly expanding your services.
You may also be eligible for SBA’s special Coronavirus relief funding which has been put in place to help businesses get back on track. Assess your business needs, such as operational requirements under new protocols, and decide whether a business loan may be right for you.
Reinvent Your Business
Due to the restrictions in place, businesses will need to adapt and reinvent themselves in order to comply and still be successful.
A stronger focus on people and adopting technology into work will ensure that companies are prepared for any potential disruption.
Potential scenarios which may happen are:
- Remission: the disease is contained and ‘normality’ returns.
- Cyclical outbreaks: new hot spots occurring
- A flattened curve: rate of infections slow but no remission.
- Prolonged Outbreaks: Virus difficult to control
Tips for Reinventing your Business
Before reopening, it is important to have a clear plan. Following these steps will help companies to reopen successfully after lockdown:
- Put caring for people at the core.
- Design spaces to ensure a safe working environment.
- Readjust business plans and expenses for growth.
- Prepare for the future and be agile.
Many of your customers will likely have been impacted by Covid-19 in one way or another, and so what they want from your business may have changed. Look at the change in consumer behaviour and think of ways you can adapt your business to meet their needs.
Their disposable income is likely to be more limited after Covid-19, so get creative with your core offerings and marketing. You may choose to change your marketing messaging slightly in order to encourage your customers that it is safe to return.
Your marketing strategy should have transparency at the core. Be honest with your customers about your current reality and what is expected from them when they return in order to keep everyone safe. Use your social media channels to deliver consistent messaging around details about reopening.
Business Reopening: the ‘New Normal’
Despite businesses being able to reopen, things are far from back to ‘normal’.
Not only will we see a change in economic activity, but also with cultural norms and behaviours in society.
There are many factors which have affected timelines and reopening under the ‘new normal’:
- Stay-at-home orders in their state(s) of operation.
- COVID-19 cases within their local area.
- The ability to enforce proper social distancing (1.5 metres apart).
- Contact between customers and employees (more difficult for businesses which involve physical contact e.g. beauty salons).
It is important to be aware that your business after COVID-19 will not be the same as it was before. Major changes will need to be made before and after you reopen your doors. Do an honest assessment of what might be feasible for your business, such as:
- Your budget
- Your space/location
- Your supply chain
- Your products/services
- Your revenue impacts
Develop a realistic time frame for reopening. Get input from team members, plan which tasks need to be done before reopening and when, coordinate with your vendors, and of course give your customers a heads up!
The businesses that will not only survive but do well are the ones that adopt a flexible way of working and adapt to their consumers’ evolving needs. Plan carefully and find new growth opportunities for your business in a post-pandemic world.
Anticipate and prepare for challenges, check in with your employees, create formal and informal ways of receiving feedback from employees and customers, and lastly know that you will not get everything perfect on day one. If mistakes do happen, make sure that you let employees and customers know how you are making it right.
Get in touch today to find out about funding options which may be available to you.
Prepared by OnDeck Capital Australia Pty Ltd ABN 28 603 753 215 (“OnDeck”) for general information purposes only. Content may belong to or have originated from third parties and OnDeck takes no responsibility for the accuracy, validity, reliability or completeness of any information. Information current as at October 2020. You should not rely upon the material or information as a basis for making any business, financial or any other decisions. Loans issued in Australia are subject to the terms of a loan agreement issued by OnDeck. Loans are subject to lender approval. OnDeck® is a Registered Trademark. All rights reserved.