The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the United States both medically and economically. Many states have begun to relax their lockdowns.
It remains to be seen what impact reopening will have on the number of cases, but it’s an economic boon to the owners of small and medium-sized businesses.
That said, how do you reopen?
What can you do to keep your employees and customers safe?
Is it reasonable to reopen or should you wait?
So, let’s get into it. Here’s what you need to know to navigate the reopening of your business.
What Are the Key Considerations for Reopening?
If your business is in a state where reopening is an option, you’ll still need to think about the logistics of reopening before you decide to move ahead. Here are the primary considerations:
State guidelines for reopening can vary widely based on a variety of factors. You should check to make sure you understand your legal requirements. For example, you may need to put social distancing markers in place or install plexiglass shields.
The nature of your business plays a role as well. If you can safely maintain social distancing between employees and customers, it will be easier to reopen than it would be if your employees will be in direct contact with customers.
Of course, the safety of everybody involved must be paramount.
Prepare Your Office or Store for Reopening
Once you’ve decided to reopen, it may be helpful to create a checklist. You can use it to work through your state’s requirements and any additional precautions you’ve decided to take. Here’s a basic checklist from the US Chamber of Commerce:
Remember that it’s your responsibility as a business owner to create a safe space for everybody who comes through your doors.
Prepare Your Employees for Reopening
The health and safety of your employees must be a priority when you reopen. Your communication with them must be clear and compassionate. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
The most important thing is clear and ongoing communication. It’s the best way to ensure that employees feel safe coming back to work.
Create Customer Guidelines
Once you have addressed the needs of your employees, the next step is thinking about your customers or clients. What do you need to do to keep them safe as you reopen? Here are some pointers.
This is one situation where “the customer is always right” needs to take a back seat to your employees’ safety.
Monitor the Situation
Finally, you’ll need to monitor the situation as you reopen. It may be that some of the guidelines you put in place need to be refined or adapted to the reality of doing business.
If you can’t reopen and have not yet received government assistance in the form of a PPP loan, remember that you can still do so. The application is on the SBA website, here, or you can apply through your bank or credit union.
You should also be aware that on June 3, 2020, Congress passed a PPP reform bill that allows businesses more time and leeway in how they spend PPP money. You can find the details here.
Reopening your business requires careful planning and attention to detail. Provided you adhere to the appropriate guidelines and prioritize the safety of your employees and customers, you will be able to navigate the process successfully.
These are all questions that loom large for business owners.