Businesses across the country are seeing a light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. Reopening is staggered between provinces and business sectors, but it’s time to think about how to restart your business after lockdown.
It’s going to be different. Things will not return to the “normal” of the past. People have changed. Businesses must learn to adjust to new socially-acceptable standards and demonstrate a compassionate humanitarian focus.
You are eager to restart your business, and many of your customers can hardly wait. But there are still unknowns and rebuilding business around the world requires caution.
7 Steps to a Successful Business Restart After Lockdown
Restarting your business amid the global health crisis requires a multi-faceted approach. These 7 steps will help to set you up for success.
1. Redefine Your Business Goals
Society, economy, industry… your business landscape has been altered. It stands to reason that your business goals might require some adjustment, too.
Both your short-term and long-term goals may have changed and that’s okay. Take the time to reevaluate. Even without a pandemic, this exercise can breathe new life into any business.
Maybe instead of focusing on expansion, your immediate goal has shifted to improving brand recognition. Or a goal to enter a new market may be a better focus than rapidly increasing revenue.
Consider your target market and your budget along with your goals. Adjustments will need to be made here, too.
2. Create a Detailed Plan
This transition will be easier to navigate if you can put together a framework on which your business can rebuild. Your team will need to work together and a detailed plan will help everyone take necessary action for a successful restart.
Keep up to date with government requirements and guidelines and incorporate them into your plan.
Here are some questions to ask and address in your plan:
- How will you maintain social distancing requirements?
- How will you handle hygiene protocols?
- Which employee roles require a return to work? Can any continue to work from home?
- How will you manage a safe building capacity with both staff and customers?
- Do you need support staff, such as security guards, extra reception or janitorial staff?
We don’t like to think about it, but the risk of a resurgence is real. Make a plan for that, too, and you won’t have to ignore that nagging anxiety at the back of your mind.
3. Restore Safety & Security
Emerging from lockdown, vigilance about health and demands on safety will be heightened. Businesses who neglect to address these changing sentiments will struggle to restart successfully. You must be able to demonstrate concern for the health and safety of the people your business connects with.
Restore customer trust with safety guarantees
Understand health and safety recommendations and define what a safe experience looks like for your customers. This might involve new practices, changing the layout of your store or office, investing in additional technology or other measures to ensure compliance with regulations. Some examples include:
- Contactless payment methods
- Hand sanitizer dispensers
- Remote assistance services
- Online ordering and curbside pick-up or drive-through
This may seem like a lot of work and extra expense for such a time of uncertainty, but trust is your most valuable commodity right now. Without it, you’ll struggle to maintain the staff and customer base you need to succeed.
Be proactive in communicating the measures your business is taking. Some of these may be obvious, but customers will appreciate being informed of less visible measures, such as minimizing human handling of product or testing procedures across your supply chain.
Safeguard the health of employees
Even though many employees are eager to return to work, there is still concern about how to do so safely. Reassure your staff by ensuring their safety in the workplace and demonstrating genuine care for the safety of their families, too.
Some things to consider include:
- Health checks at the start of each shift
- Regulations for those who are ill
- Accommodations for remote work, where possible
- Physical distancing measures
- Provision of masks and/or gloves, single-use coffee break supplies, and other hygienic practices
Restore operations safely
Especially if your business has been idle or vacant during the lockdown, take extra care in restoring operations. Do a thorough self-inspection of your facility to identify and correct any damage, maintenance issues, signs of vandalism, or other issues.
Follow operation manuals for machinery and equipment when restarting them, particularly if they’ve been cleaned.
Set up new inspection and maintenance procedures. Be sure alcohol-based (flammable) disinfectants, such as hand sanitizers, are stored safely away from ignition sources.
4. Adjust Technology for the New Normal
For many businesses, adjustments during the lockdown included technology upgrades and the adoption of new tools. Now is not the time to abandon these new solutions. Instead, it’s your opportunity to invest in the technology that will sustain your business in a new marketplace – one where remote work and online shopping are essential.
Curbside pick-up, for example, requires a notification system. When customers arrive to pick up their order, your staff needs to be notified so they can deliver the goods. A cloud phone system has features ideal for this scenario, including:
- SMS Messaging: Customers can text when they’ve arrived.
- Queuing: Call or text queuing allows you to direct calls or messages to a central number (or department), but share them with a team to ensure there’s always someone available.
- Auto Attendant: This virtual assistant can automatically direct calls to the correct department.
A cloud phone system is also the perfect choice for businesses with remote workers and for those looking to reduce operating costs. It can also offer valuable insights through call recording and real-time analytics to help you make informed business decisions.
5. Sustain What Works
Most companies have had to pivot at least some part of their business. Unplanned changes happened fast and some of those shifts produced better-than-expected results. Evaluate the changes you’ve had to make to determine what has generated value – either financially, operationally, or relationally.
Common adaptations that businesses have chosen to adopt permanently include:
- Work from home
- Audio/video conferencing to eliminate travel
- Resized teams
- Streamlined processes
- Shortened decision and supply chains
- Converted product lines
For many, the COVID-19 crisis has been an opportunity to strengthen business relationships with customers and suppliers. Find ways to maintain those relationships.
6. Revive Your Customer Base
A pragmatic approach to reviving your customer base means you understand the impact of the crisis on their buying behavior. Consumers simply have less money to spend and more uncertainty about their economic future.
Impulse purchases have fallen by more than 30% and online purchases have increased by 15-20%, according to a study done by McKinsey. Get creative about engaging with your customers and offering valuable solutions.
Optimize your marketing to align with the current needs and attitude of your audience. Focus on brand loyalty and experiment with a multichannel marketing strategy.
7. Prepare to Adapt Quickly
There’s no handbook for this. We’ve never done this before and every business is in a unique situation. We’re learning as we go.
We entered this crisis suddenly and had to alter course quickly. Most businesses can glean valuable lessons from that forced adjustment. What worked well? What were the biggest hindrances to forward action?
Restarting your business requires careful planning, but also the ability to remain flexible. Requirements and regulations change rapidly. A resurgence of the epidemic is a possibility and the pace of recovery will likely fluctuate.
Prepare your business to survive this transition by streamlining your decision-making process. Improve communications and establish a system of regular assessments to monitor your business outlook.
Get Ready to Relaunch Your Business
When you reopen your business after lockdown, it can be the start of a new season of success. Take steps to ensure your restart is as smooth as possible.
For help in setting up an affordable, easy-to-use communications system to support remote workers or accommodate digital customer services, SelectCom is here to help. Contact us today.