Checklist: Reopening Your Small Business After the Coronavirus Shutdown
South Africa is slowly beginning to reopen again, and after suffering through weeks of COVID-19 related business shutdowns, many small business owners are eager to get back to business as usual. If your province or area has announced that it will allow businesses to reopen, it’s important to do so in a way that keeps your employees and customers safe.
Our reopening plan checklist will help ensure you take all the relevant factors into account to develop a well-thought-out plan and includes resources to help you.
Even if reopening is not on the horizon for several weeks or months, it’s a good idea to begin developing a reopening plan now. This will give you time to find out what your customers expect when your business reopens, talk to your employees about reopening, and put supply chains in place to keep your business running smoothly after reopening.
Whether or not to reopen your business as soon as COVID-19 closures are lifted is a choice that only you can make. Take state and local health authority guidelines, as well as your business finances, into account when making your decision.
There are several factors to consider as you develop your business reopening plan:
- How your business model may need to change to stay competitive
- What types of sales are needed to break even and when you can expect to become profitable again
- Where to access the financing you may need to retrofit or adapt your business
- How to maintain a safe environment for everyone who enters your location
- Any accommodations your employees may need to return to work
- How to make customers feel comfortable doing business with you
- How to market your reopening to build awareness and demand
There’s a lot to think about when reopening your business after coronavirus shutdowns. To get advice about creating your business’s reopening plan, use the CHECKLIST below.
CHECKLIST: Reopening Your Small Business After the Coronavirus Shutdown
Provinces are beginning to lift their COVID-19-related restrictions. For businesses that closed their businesses, the following steps will help you plan for reopening while protecting customers and employees.
- Stay abreast of current state and local COVID-19 guidelines for businesses, as well as industry-specific guidelines.
- If you have multiple locations, be aware of COVID-19 related laws in each locale.
- Designate a COVID-19 team of one or more employees to oversee your COVID-19 response and reopening plan
ASSESS YOUR FINANCES
- Create a cash flow forecast including optimistic, pessimistic and realistic models.
- Look for ways to cut expenses and add new revenue streams.
- Estimate increased costs for retrofitting space, deep cleaning, ongoing sanitation, etc.
- Keep updated on financial assistance available from lenders and government sources.
- Communicate with landlords, creditors, vendors and lenders to negotiate payments.
- Ask your insurance agent about appropriate coverage to protect against lawsuits from customers or employees after reopening.
ADJUST YOUR BUSINESS MODEL
If your business pivoted during closure (for example, adding tele-appointments, ecommerce, delivery service, curbside pickup, new products or services, working remotely), decide which elements to continue. Consider surveying customers to get their opinions.
- Decide if you will reopen in stages or all at once.
- Determine if you need to adjust business hours to allow for limited numbers of customers or provide extra time for cleaning.
- Ensure you have adequate sources of equipment, inventory and supplies needed to run your business, as well as backup sources if your primary vendors can’t fulfill your orders
PLAN YOUR STAFFING
- Identify staffing needs for each stage of reopening.
- Understand how COVID-19 related employment laws affect your decisions. An attorney or local employment agency can help you.
- Update your operations handbook and employee handbook to reflect new policies and procedures consistent with public health guidelines.
- Contact employees to discuss their needs. Create a plan to help at-risk employees, parents or caregivers who may need special accommodations to return to work.
- Create a business continuity plan and a crisis communications plan in case an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs at your business.
- Train employees on new procedures including cleaning, social distancing and health screenings.
- Cross-train employees so you have backup in place if some workers are absent.
KEEP YOUR WORKPLACE CLEAN
- Develop procedures for cleaning and disinfecting workspaces, surfaces and shared tools regularly and educate employees on them.
- Provide soap, tissue, trash cans, hand sanitizer and EPA-approved disinfecting wipes throughout your workplace.
- Put up signage directing employees on workplace sanitation, hand-washing, hygiene, social distancing habits and symptoms of COVID-19.
- Depending on local and industry regulations, provide masks and gloves for employees or allow them to bring their own.
- Provide more frequent breaks for employees to wash their hands.
- Secure sources (including backup sources) for regular supply of cleaners, disinfectants and personal protective equipment (PPE).
IMPLEMENT SOCIAL DISTANCING
- Move employee workstations at least 6 feet apart. Install acrylic barriers or use cubicle walls to further limit contact.
- Eliminate shared workstations if possible; if not, provide disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and disposable gloves at each shared space.
- Use videoconferencing or conference call technology to avoid in-person meetings with clients, customers and partners.
- Stagger schedules so fewer employees are in the workspace at one time.
- Allow remote work when possible; provide necessary equipment for employees to work securely.
- Limit employee travel, including travel between multiple locations of your business.
- Provide PPE for customers or other visitors or require them to bring their own.
- Develop a plan for handling customers, visitors and employees who refuse to follow your health and safety guidelines.
SET UP HEALTH SCREENING
- Educate employees about COVID-19 symptoms and the need to stay home when sick.
- Develop a policy for screening employees (for example, with touch thermometers) or having employees self-screen before coming to work.
- Plan what to do if an employee, customer or visitor develops symptoms at work, including notifying employees and customers and cleaning and disinfecting the workplace.
MARKET YOUR BUSINESS
- Keep your website, Google My Business and other local search listings updated with current information and hours of operation.
- Develop a marketing plan for your grand re-opening via emails, social media, chats, etc.
- Hang signage in your physical business windows notifying customers of your plans.
- Create messaging to explain how you are keeping customers and employees safe.
This article was published by the Weskus Sakekamer as a service to it’s members.
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