Over the next few days and weeks, businesses across North America and around the world are going to unshutter their doors and invite their customers back in.
However, the world has changed while the economy has been shut down by governments, and when you reopen, you may be faced with new realities.
Here are five things you need to consider:
Plan for changes
What’s your plan for the days before you open to get ready for your customers? What’s your plan for opening day and what are you going to do in the weeks that follow?
You are probably going to need some well-thought-through best, worst and probable scenarios to ensure you’re not overwhelmed or surprised.
Consider that perhaps your customers have changed their buying patterns; that their finances may not be the same as they were; that what might have been valuable before is valued no longer.
Engage your team
Figure out who’s coming back and who isn’t. Some of your team may have rethought their employment with you. They might think that it’s better to take a vacation at the hands of taxpayers and won’t be considering the long-term employment options.
There might be others who you realize just didn’t fit in your business and you’re going to sever your relationship.
Take whoever you have left, gather them together (with social distancing, of course) and encourage them to help you generate a plan to reopen and reinvigorate your business.
Have a safety plan
People have different levels of concern and fear about COVID-19.
Some people are downright terrified that they’re going to come in contact with someone else who has the virus and be exposed to certain death.
Others believe the whole event was a hoax and they have nothing to fear.
Regardless of where you sit in this spectrum, you have some customers and staff who need re-assurance that your business has safety protocols in place to reduce their risk. Ensure you do and minimize risks for everyone.
Suppliers may be out of stock of items because their supply chain has been disrupted. Talk to them.
Your family might be confused about what’s going on with your business. Be clear and patient with these people because no matter what happens with the business, you will still have family.
As owners, we think that everyone should be on the same page as we are, including our staff, bankers, family, customers, landlords and suppliers.
But they can’t read our minds. Slow down and ensure that each of your stakeholder groups understands the requirements of the present situation.
Your customers are going to need to hear from you and you must find ways to educate them and invite them back to your business. You may think you want to cut your marketing costs, but be strategic in this process. Businesses that market well in times of recession outperform their competitors.
Take advantage of help
There are government programs to support businesses. Take advantage of them. Tap into loans or grants that will ensure your viability.
The Professional Business Coaches Alliance of Canada is offering free, no-strings-attached business coaching sessions at www.pbcacanada.com.
Take time to reach out to your support network of business owners, trusted advisers and others in your industry to find out what they’re doing to reopen and establish how you can support each other. Learn from them and replicate the best of their ideas.
Whether you’re confident of your success in this new economic landscape or you’re one of the 40 per cent who have closed their businesses and are unsure if you can ever open and recover, having a clear idea of what your next steps are will reduce your stress and help you have confidence in your decisions.
This is a difficult time. There’s much uncertainty and you’re likely to feel overwhelmed. This is natural.
Taking one small step at a time and putting some thought into how you’re going to proceed will have a calming effect on you and those around you.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Comments on business at this time? Email firstname.lastname@example.org