Top 10 Tips for Combatting Business Interruption Due to COVID-19
1. Let People Know You’re Open for Business (and Taking Precautions)
If your business is something that may be considered non-essential, make sure your customers know you’re open for business and also take all reasonable and necessary precautions. This could include limiting the number of customers, reducing your hours, or increasing cleaning throughout the day. There may come a time when you are required to close but if you have decided to continue operating, the most important thing is letting your customers know about it.
Due to the current public advice, many people are reluctant to go out more than they must, especially if it involves encountering groups of people. Unless you are a grocery store, gas station, or similar type of business, you are going to have to work hard to draw clients to you – so long as you are able to remain open. One of the best ways to do this is by offering some sort of promotion or incentive. One of the more creative ways we’ve seen a company doing this is by offering a roll of toilet paper with any order.
3. Offer Delivery or Pick-up if Possible
If you provide products or services that can be offered without the need for customers to enter your place of business, do your best to transition as many customers to that option as possible. You may want to consider offering delivery if the costs make sense. Further, you can offer a curbside pickup option for people if they wish to order ahead but still prefer to pick up the item/service themselves.
4. Make Use of Social Media
The more time people spend at home, the more time they will likely be spending in front of screens. This gives you an even more captive audience on social media than usual. Especially since you want to limit the number of people entering your store – depending on your area – social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach your target market. You can use it to spread the word that you’re open (or closed), offer gift cards, and announce if you are offering delivery or pickup options.
5. Business Interruption Insurance
Many businesses already have business interruption insurance. Now is the time to check. If you don’t have it, now is the time to explore it before things become worse. Business interruption insurance is exactly what the name implies. It offers protection in the case of business interruptions that meet certain criteria. This is a viable option that may bolster your confidence in your survival and the ability to move forward.
6. Diversify Your Suppliers
If you are a product-based business or rely on specific services, and only use one supplier, now is the time to consider making connections with others. If you typically operate on terms, now is the time to set up accounts with other suppliers so you can easily order from them if others become bottle-necked or have an outage of an important component to your business.
7. Establish Remote Work Options
Regardless of what type of business you are in, now is the time to ensure you are set up for remote work. Even businesses that rely on local clientele are likely to still need back-office support to continue during a shutdown. You should have a cloud storage option such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or DropBox where people can share and collaborate on files. Further, instant communication – video and chat – can be far more efficient than email, so make sure your team is set up on a platform like Skype, Slack, or Zoom.
Consider now what you will do if it gets better, or if it gets worse. Don’t panic but have a contingency plan for if your city/state/town or the country is put on quarantine. In the same regard, plan for how you would conduct business tomorrow if everything went back to normal. Continue to consider these factors and have a plan for any possible outcome.
9. Stay Updated
One of the best ways to limit interruptions is to stay current on the latest news and updates on local and national levels of the virus and how it’s going to impact your business. This means not only paying attention to the spread but also to the resources that are being made available on the national, state, and local levels.
10. Know Your Sources
When considering new information, make sure to consider the source. Local authorities, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and medical professionals with the experience and authority to speak to the topic are among the most reliable sources for information. Regarding business initiatives, check with the SBA, state and local agencies, as well as CDC and WHO for information. Most of their websites can be bookmarked and are rapidly being updated as new information becomes available.