For small business owners, reopening successfully is one of the greatest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. But there’s no need to panic if you’re faced with this task.
Courage, tenacity, and the willingness to adapt are qualities that will help, and as a small business owner, you probably already have them. The following checklist, as well as the in-depth explanation of it below, offers practical ways you can channel those qualities into your business post-COVID-19.
The Business Reopening Checklist
- High standard of cleanliness
- Improved standard of employee health and safety
- Additional personal equipment
- Flexible approach to working remotely
- Preliminary market research
- Preparedness for future lockdowns or pandemics
- Communicate with customers
High Standard Of Cleanliness
Businesses that remained open during lockdown by providing essential services had to raise their standards of cleanliness, and many went as far as regularly disinfecting their premises. When your small business reopens, you will need to raise standards of cleanliness too.
Customers’ expectations have shifted, and hygiene practices have come under the spotlight. The pandemic has made the public more aware of how viruses can survive on various surfaces. With this comes the awareness of how important it is to try to keep everything as clean as possible to minimize the spread of diseases.
Merely dusting and mopping twice a day is no longer enough. It’s a good idea to look into professional cleaning services and inspectors who can provide a certification of cleanliness.
Employee Health And Safety
Depending on the nature of your business, your staff could come into contact with many people every day. As much as your customers want to be assured premises are clean, they’ll also want to know that your staff maintains high standards of personal hygiene.
Given how contagious the coronavirus is, your customers have every right to expect that. More importantly, insisting on excellent personal hygiene is for your staff’s own good. Instruct your staff regarding various procedures, such as hand-washing and other WHO-advised techniques. You can put up infographics and posters as part of this. You also should ensure staff have access to any health and safety equipment they may need, such as face masks, gloves, soap, or hand sanitizer.
More Personal Equipment
Minimize health risks to your staff and customers by having as little shared equipment as possible. Instead, try to supply your employees with equipment that is for their use only. This can limit the spread of bacteria, and it can help your employees maintain social distancing.
That is not always possible when it comes to office equipment such as printers, phones, canteen or kitchen items, and buttons in lifts, biometrics, or doors with punch-in access. The cleaning regimen should take care of that, but you should think about installing touchless control systems. You may also need to look at redesigning workspaces, disabling access systems temporarily, or setting up strategically-placed hand sanitizer stations.
Flexible Approach To Working Remotely
Several employees in a shared workspace are a recipe for spreading the virus. By allowing employees to work remotely, you decrease the risk of staff spreading germs or falling ill.
It may be possible for employees to work remotely all the time, so be prepared to take a flexible approach. Zoom, Skype, and other software has made video conferencing easy, and if you implement strict schedules, your staff can follow them from home.
If remote work is not a possibility, you can look at restructuring shifts, even if it means adjusting your business hours. This would bring fewer staff into contact with one another and maintain a safer environment.
Preliminary Market Research
COVID-19 has brought about lasting change in all sorts of unexpected ways. In addition to changing how businesses operate and how we behave in public, it’s also changed how many people do things at home. Some people have discovered new talents, or they have changed old habits.
Whether you consider change collectively/socially or individually, your original market may no longer be what it was before the pandemic began. Study the latest data and market research and reach out to your customers via social media to explore ways your business could pivot to meet changing demands. Selling new products, updating your services, or coming up with new business ideas could keep you solvent.
Preparedness For Future Lockdowns/Pandemics
There is a good chance that we will not have seen the last of the coronavirus once lockdown has ended, and the pandemic is over. Future outbreaks may not reach the proportions we’ve experienced over the past few months, but that does not exclude the possibility of more lockdowns.
There is also the possibility that other viruses may cause new pandemics. Prepare for such eventualities by ensuring you have emergency plans in place, as well as keeping a stock of personal protective equipment. Knowing that you have been proactive should boost your own confidence as well as that of your employees.
Communicate With Customers
Communicating with customers is a key part of opening your business successfully after the COVID-19 pandemic. This goes beyond finding out how their needs may have changed while you were closed.
You also should inform them about the high standards of cleanliness that you have implemented, as well as the procedures used by staff to ensure their health and safety. If you do this on your social media platforms, consider posting photos of disinfecting taking place, and publish any certificates of cleanliness or hygiene. If you plan to limit the number of customers allowed on the premises, let your customers know so they can plan accordingly. Your customers may ask questions about health and safety measures for themselves and for your employees. Take the time to address any concerns they may have.
Reopening a small business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic requires a great deal of hard work and patience from you and your employees. Navigating what’s likely a difficult time will need patience and perseverance. Use the checklist above where applicable, take the process one day at a time, and do not be afraid to adapt – it’s something we’re all going to have to do.