The effects that COVID-19 is having on many small and medium sized businesses is something they could never have reasonably anticipated or be prepared for. For many businesses it’s not too late, and there are things you can put in place now to deal with the varied issues you’re facing, with a view to seeing through these extremely challenging times:
1. Cash is king – business interruptions can strain a small business’s financial ability to make payroll, maintain inventory and respond to market fluctuations (both sudden drops and surges in demand). Businesses should prepare by reviewing their access to cash funds, so they have what they need when they need it.
2. Workforce – business interruptions have just as much impact on your workers as they do your clients. It’s critical to ensure your staff are able to fulfill their roles whilst protected.
3. Inventory and Supply Chain Shortfalls – It’s prudent to ensure, at least in the short to medium term, that you have either adequate supplies of inventory and/or the ability diversify your distributor sources in the event one supplier cannot meet an order request.
4. Facility Remediation/Clean-up Costs – there may be a need to enhance the protection of customers and staff by increasing the frequency and intensity of the routine cleaning of surfaces frequently touched by occupants and visitors. Check your maintenance contracts and supplies of cleaning materials to ensure they can meet increases in demand.
5. Insurance Coverage – If you’re lucky to have business interruption insurance, or aren’t sure if you do, now is the time to contact your insurance agent to review your policy to understand precisely what you are and are not covered for in the event of an extended interruption.
6. Changing Market Demand – there may be access controls or movement restrictions established which can impede your customers from reaching your business. Additionally, there may be public concerns about public exposure and customers may decide not to go to your business out of concern of exposing themselves to greater risk. Try anticipating what may be changing and how best you can react to those changes.
7. Marketing – It’s critical to communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you’ve implemented, and how they (as customers) will be protected when they visit your business. Promotions may also help incentivize customers who may be reluctant to visit your business.
8. Plan – As a business, bring your staff and management together and prepare a plan for what you will do if the incident worsens or improves. It’s also helpful to try and anticipate potential scenarios before they happen and how your business might to best to respond to them.
If you’re unsure how to respond, and want a sounding board, we’re here to help.