How to Reopen Your Business During Uncertain Times

Businesses worldwide have been struggling with how to handle the constant changes and developments brought forward by COVID-19. Lockdowns that cause businesses to shut their doors, lack of money that leads to layoffs, outbreaks at factories that shut down the supply chain, and what seems like an endless list of changes and procedures that will affect businesses going forward. As a society, we are trying to be as safe and responsible as possible, but at the same time, we must be able to continue to work and offer our goods and services. During this unprecedented time, it is not business as usual, as we must learn to adapt and be one step ahead of the curve to continue to operate. Now, as businesses begin to reopen, there are plenty of things to consider to ensure a smooth transition in a world where COVID-19 exists.
The most important part of reopening during this time is preparedness. Businesses need to be smart and prepare for any possible outcome. Even if everything is done perfectly, and every possible safety procedure is put in place, there is always a possibility for a future outbreak to occur, which could lead to your business once again taking a step backwards and reducing back to minimal output levels. This is something that a business needs to prepare for. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Businesses should also prepare for various degrees of ramping up. There shouldn’t be the expectation that once your business reopens it will immediately resume to a pre-virus level of sales or activity, so it is best to gradually expand, and not spend on anything unnecessary without thoroughly thinking it through. Discuss with your team, form a plan of action, and have a backup plan just in case. The more prepared you are the better and be sure to consider the following:
  • How long in advance will you know when your business can (or will) reopen or ramp back up?
  • Be prepared in case a restart is temporary – there may be another shut-down or slow-down in the future.
  • Plan for various degrees of ramp-up – your sales may take a long time to get back to where they were, but if you’re not properly prepared to handle orders when they do arise, you may end up actually causing or exacerbating it. Therefore, plan different ways to ramp up output without overly committing cash before it’s justifiable.
Inventory and Supply Chain:
If you haven’t already, now is the time to get in touch with your key suppliers, partly to “insure” the relationship, and partly to be on top of issues they may have in restarting. If a key supplier has gone out of business or is not prepared to revamp to pre-virus levels, the sooner you know this the more prepared you are to come up with alternatives. This not only includes suppliers of products, but also services such as software. Make sure you have access to all the supply chain technology and partners that you rely on.
After deciding on a plan of action, a business must then look to whatever staffing needs are necessary. During this time, millions of people lost their jobs due to businesses closing for a time or perhaps permanently. It is now time to look at bringing these people back into the fold. If you are ramping up at a high speed and expanding to pre-virus levels of operation, it would be wise to offer those laid-off their jobs back. You will need them to operate at efficient levels, though as a business you should always be prepared that some of the employees that were let go may not return whether due to retirement or finding employment elsewhere. This is another aspect that a business owner should prepare for and have a plan for. To operate successfully, you need trained staff to be able to handle the workload, and if that isn’t properly in place, then you may end up seeing poor results. How long will it take to re-hire staff or hire new employees?
People First Processes:
During these times of uncertainty, it is likely that some of your customers also experienced disruptions to their business. For those that have struggled, is there a way that you can proactively help them remain in business and also ramp back up?
Your business is nothing without your customers, so use this time to strengthen those bonds. Keep your customers in your plans and try to do what you can to show support for them.
Keep in mind that there are potential opportunities to gain market share if you’re able to restart your business quickly and efficiently, especially if you’re ready to go before your competitors. However, this means the converse is also true. Now is the time to start preparing for the future, even as so much uncertainty still remains.