4 Tasks to Check Off Before Reopening Your Business

Ready to flip the sign in your window to say OPEN? Small businesses everywhere are doing their part to keep customers safe by changing how they do business. Some have adopted a no-contact strategy; others have shut down temporarily. Because of that hard work, businesses are starting to get back in the game. When you get the go-ahead in your area and feel it’s safe to reopen, check off these tasks to help ensure a successful relaunch.

Get Ready To Turn The Page

Everyone is talking about the “new normal.” While no one can accurately predict what that is, one thing is clear—you’ll likely have to adopt new ways of doing business. Your starting point isn’t to pick up where you left off. Instead, focus on this point forward, then adapt as needed.

Start by dusting off your business plan with a reality check. Are your assumptions still valid? For example:

  • Has your target market shifted? If so, you may need to adjust your sales projections and pricing. Watch this video to get you thinking about it.
  • Does your product or service still meet your customers’ needs? Can you still deliver them profitably? You may need to pivot to a new offering and/or new suppliers to create it.
  • What new government guidelines are required? For example, some limit the number of customers who can be in your store at one time.

This checklist will help you focus not just on when but how you’ll reopen.

Learn The Ropes

You’re no longer just selling a product or service. You have an added social responsibility to conduct business safely. That means following CDC Guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among staff, customers and suppliers.

Here are key areas of the CDC guidelines for businesses. Consult this reference for additional direction from state and local governments.

  • Sanitation – It’s important to clean and disinfect public areas on a regular basis. Consult this CDC flyer to size up the task.
  • Social distancing – Maintain a 6-foot distance between individuals. Here’s what some businesses are doing to comply: mark off six feet “stand here” signs at checkout, create one-way traffic in aisles, limit the number of people who are in the store at one time, reconfigure the physical space, offer curb-side pick-up, phone or online orders. Others are providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to customers.
  • Employee management – This includes reviewing your sick leave policy, business travel guidelines and training staff on new requirements. You may need to provide PPE, ask health-screening questions and perform temperature checks. The CDC offers these 10 Tips To Protect Employee Health.  

Spread the Word

Let customers and suppliers know you’re open for business. Emails, your website or social media channels provide a quick and no-contact way of doing it. It’s important to provide reassurance. Let them know what steps you’ve taken to ensure their safety. Offer options to shop in your store—in person or online.

This is also a good opportunity to set expectations. For example, if you are going to require facemasks, let customers know you will be providing them. If you’re limiting the number of persons in your store, let them know you’ll have a queue line.

Prepare A Contingency Plan

Remember, this is a fluid business environment and additional changes are likely. For example, the CDC warns a second wave of COVID-19 is possible this fall. That may prompt a return to no-contact-only business models or temporary closures.

So have a Plan B ready. It may include items like: monitoring key warning signs, alternate suppliers to manage inventory, how to handle employees and customers who do not adhere to your social distancing policies, managing cash flow (including any new government funding), staffing considerations.

Small business owners are itching to get back to serving their customers. But reopening is more than just switching the sign in your window. It takes careful planning. Start with these tasks to make sure yours is successful and safe. 

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