13 min read
How to Restart Your Business after the COVID-19 Pandemic
Among many entities who are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are sliding into a more vulnerable position day by day. This unexpected situation followed by lockdowns in places has already caused mayhem for many. Some companies were so devastated that they had no option other than going out of business. Many others, despite being operational, took a huge hit that caused them to go into survival mode.
Until now, this has been the new reality in the global business world. However, it is assumed that the lockdown and social distancing will not be upheld for an indefinite period. In fact, it is highly likely that many countries will allow businesses to become operational again in the near future.
This means we will all be slowly returning to our pre-COVID-19 era. Not entirely though because there will be visible impacts. Nonetheless, offices will open, shops will be crowded, and customers will start shopping — either online or offline. Workplaces will start displaying the usual noisy ambiance instead of the dead silence.
But, before we can go back to the normal that we have known for years, so many things need to be done. Closing offices for a long time has its impact. Similarly, employees and staff being out of work for a long period of time can also impact business operations. It is true that many workers are still working from home, but their mental health should be taken into consideration too. It is also important to mention clients’ and stakeholders’ situation because they were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as well.
So, before businesses restart, many processes need to be revamped so they can ensure a smooth restoration to normal operations. This is to say it would not be a wise decision to simply jump in and start your business without measuring the current situation and ensuring smooth coordination among all the employees working in different business factions.
For instance, Jack intends to restart his restaurant business but on the day of opening, he suddenly finds that his main chef is not available because he/she is suffering from illness or decided to return late because of some mental health-related issues. Or, Jill wants to resume her clothing line but after taking a few orders, she discovers that her supplier is out of business and she needs to find another supplier!
See, what is happening here? Lack of preparation is causing turmoil in the business restarting process. We cannot take this risk, can we? After all, every second counts when restarting operations. One mistake could cause a series of consequences that might to the extent of customers being snatched away by competitors!
Among many mandatory proactive steps, here we are presenting our top 5 essential steps that you should take before restarting your business.
5 Things to do Before Restarting Your Business After COVID-19
Check on Your Staff
Your staff is the backbone of your organization. Without them, you cannot craft a business restoration plan, which means nothing will be operational. Therefore, it is quite important that you collect information about your stuff.
The question is: what information? Well, it depends on how your organization was operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are three main scenarios:
Employees were working from home
In this scenario, your major focus should be on the tasks assigned to them and determining the level of objectives met/goals achieved.
Certainly, your team had schedules and plans for the goals they were given during the “work from home” period. Obviously, in this scenario, they would have been working the same way as if they are working in the office. However, in most cases, it is not possible to work consistently at home because of many factors. This is why assessing the level of goals met/objectives ticked during the pandemic can give management an idea about where they stand right now. Getting an update of projects assigned to individuals and teams can also generate valuable insights to determine the future course of action once the business is reopened.
The office was open with limited operations
In this scenario, your staff was expected to carry on regular operations with some expected disturbances due to the pandemic. This is understandable because not every supporting organization was operational. Like the previous scenario, you should emphasize on the tasks completed/objectives met during the pandemic. It is also important to check on the physical environment of the office. In this way, you can determine if any maintenance is needed before going fully operational. You must keep in mind as once the business is running; it will be more cumbersome to execute any maintenance work. Most importantly, as the staff was working during a global pandemic, it is important to assess if they had faced any risk. If there are cases that are not resolved, it is important to mitigate those risks before becoming fully operational.
The business was entirely closed, and staff were not working
In this scenario, your focus should be on the current state of employees: mentally and physically. There are employees who were laid off. Some of them will be summoned again once the business is open. Employees who were on unpaid or paid leave to avoid risks need assessments too. Certainly, being away from work for a long time impacts one’s ability to carry on his/her regular work.
Many workers will not be able to return to work immediately because of many factors. They need to be contacted to identify the severity of their situations and the anticipated time of their return to work.
Most importantly, it is essential to check if anyone has left his/her residence during the pandemic. Although they might not be infected just because they went out, there is always a risk of being a carrier without showing symptoms. Having them checked again through a self-assessment before joining the office can be a useful way to prevent risks.
Connect with Your Stakeholders
Imagine your local grocery store is back in business. So, you go there only to find your favorite items are out of stock! Why? Because the grocery store’s sole supplier is out of business. Not your problem, so, you drive to another store to find that product. That is a potential revenue loss for the grocery owner. Who knows, if the other store provides better service then you might become a regular customer of his competitor!
Existing customer lost here! YIKES!
Businesses have to depend on many stakeholders to carry operations. Here, stakeholders could be your suppliers, business partners, a group of customers, even the authority who determines if your business is eligible to go operational. I have recently read a story about a business losing millions because the authority who gives clearance on imported goods was closed due to the pandemic! They had everything sorted but still were not able to resume their business for quite a while!
There could be potential loose ends in your business processes, always! It is normal to have them because this pandemic hit all of us hard. What is important here is to tie those loose ends together before going into action.
Getting answers to a few business operations-related questions can help you to streamline your action plan. Here are a few example questions that you can ask before you start planning your recovery strategy:
Does your business have the capacity to meet business requirements?
Is your business operational? If yes, then to which extent you can operate? What is the anticipated time of re-opening your business? What is the anticipated time to go fully operational?
If you are fully operational, can you still meet all the requirements?
Who are your primary suppliers? Can they meet your demand? If not, do you have a list of backup suppliers?
Is your business clear to operate after the pandemic? If not, what are the clearances that you need?
You can have a checklist and gradually start ticking these off one by one. For that, you need to connect with your partners, suppliers, and other stakeholders in a meaningful way to derive important information. Communication is a vital factor here.
How to communicate? There are several ways!
You can send them emails with links to surveys. In the survey, you can easily incorporate questions that cater to your needs. It is likely that many of the stakeholders will forget about replying. Many of them may miss emails because they are receiving lots of messages right now. In this case, you can deploy a multi-channel communication strategy. For example, you can send surveys via email and SMS with voice calls as a backup (just in case they do not check those emails and SMS messages. Sending automated follow-up messages is also a clever idea.
Hosting a teleconference is another great way of communication. You can connect to multiple suppliers/partners in a single teleconference. The prime benefit of a teleconference is that everyone can be connected at once, avoiding multiple back and forth communications. This technology is particularly useful for businesses where stakeholders are dependent on each other. Using this tool, every stakeholder can be connected in a meeting so important decisions can be made.
There are also other tools to communicate with stakeholders efficiently. Check this suite of tools to see which one could be leveraged for your business.
Keep in Touch with Clients
There is hardly an organization that did not touch base with its clients during the pandemic, regardless of the status of the business. However, when you are restarting your business, staying at the top of your clients’ minds is essential.
Who are these clients? At this moment, anyone falling into your target audience spectrum is your client. Your clients could range from students to professionals, patients, citizens, and most importantly, your customers. It is not important that you only keep in touch with your customers or your primary target group. You need to be visible to every prospect. Every single reach will count once you restart your business.
How do you be in touch with them and what will be your messages? Well, it depends on your type of business and the product/service you offer.
You can keep updating them about the current status of the business and the anticipated date of opening.
You can send them e-flyers containing pertinent items that will be on sale once the store opens.
You can send them a survey and ask them about their current condition and well being.
You can share some inbound marketing materials with them to learn more about industry best practices.
You can put out a text-based survey to determine what your clients/prospects want from you once the business is operational.
These are common ways to connect with your clients. Sending targeted messaging with a personal touch can work like magic in this situation.
Leveraging social media is another vital factor to keep your business visible. Ideally, businesses use social media to promote their services/products. This time, social media can be used to gather intel from your followers. Social listening can also become a fantastic tool to harvest client insights. On top of everything, a planned social media strategy can keep you visible to your clients. Don’t forget the content! Content is important!
Manage Employees Schedules
If you are thinking that opening your business is the end of this planning, then you are missing out a very important point: managing your employee schedule!
It will not be surprising if you see a surge in absenteeism after your business is open. This is not meant to scare you, but there is the potential of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is one of many reasons you may see a few of your front-line workers unavailable. A lot of things changed in the past couple of months and so many things will change in the near future. People have their priorities and those priorities will also change over time. So, it would be wise if companies proactively manage employee schedules.
How you can do that? Well, there are several ways.
You can bring only a couple of employees each day to maintain social distancing.
You can create a new roster where a backup is always ready in case someone in a role is not available. For instance, if you have two main chefs in a restaurant, rotate their shifts, and don’t let them work together.
As I said earlier, this pandemic changed quite a lot of things and your staff might not prefer the shifts with which they were comfortable before this situation. Having a schedule management tool comes handy in this kind of situation.
To sum up, make sure that your business is not running out of employees nor being overloaded with workers who are not needed.
Keep an Emergency Notification System Ready
By now, many people understand the importance of an emergency notification system for businesses. With an emergency notification system, businesses can avoid a lot of situations that can potentially disrupt business operations.
When it is time to re-open your business, an emergency notification system can come in handy. Just because one day the lockdown will be lifted does not mean risks are gone. There are hundreds of other unforeseeable scenarios that may jeopardize both your business and staff. For example, another COVID-19 patient is detected in the building where your office is and the authority has announced the building to be put in lockdown. An emergency alert system can send messages to all employees to exit the building while maintaining proper social distancing and warn the employees who are out of the office so they do not attempt to return. This is just one example. Depending on your business type, you can find many reasons why you need an emergency notification system or a suite of emergency communication tools.
You never know, right?
If you still are unsure of whether you should adopt one or not, here is a blog for you to help you make a decision.
Overwhelmed? Why Not Adopt an All-in-One Solution?
By now, you understand that communication holds the key to the successful restoration of your business as you need to contact so many parties in so many ways.
With this realization it is quite normal to have a question: do I have to adopt so many different solutions?
I mean, at some point, you might need to deploy a multi-channel campaign to touch base with your clients and employees that involves SMS, email, and voicemails. You might need to start using a CRM to track contacts and clients. Having a social media strategy certainly brings up the necessity to get a landing page so you can gather leads. Since you are doing a marketing campaign, you might also want to track the traffic coming to your website and level of interactions on specific pages. Don’t forget about the survey to determine your employee's current status. Online forms are a must in this situation.
Luckily, SimplyCast has it all!
Try our Communication & Engagement Software Suite that caters to the COVID-19 Recovery Strategy for your business.
You can use SimplyCast’s email, SMS, and Voice Broadcasting tools to send messages to your contacts.
Our powerful Contact Relationship Management tool can store countless contacts so tracking the progress of client outreach gets easier.
Our state-of-the-art Landing Page Generator provides you with the opportunity to create visually appealing landing pages to capture leads.
As you start your inbound marketing initiatives, you can use the Sonar Web Tracking tool to see the behavior of visitors when they are visiting your site.
On top of everything, SimplyCast 360 allows you to design and test your customized communication strategy in nearly unlimited ways.
Along with these tools for essential business communication, we also have an emergency communication suite of tools that includes OnCall to manage employee schedules, Recall to assemble a team of skilled individuals, Alerts to send an emergency notification in critical situations, and Live Survey to gather information quickly to deal with crisis issues. There are also other essential tools such as Blueprints & Maps to manage resources in a specific geographic location, Event to design responses to common emergency situations so you can react with just a few clicks. Finally, the Command Hub works as the main dashboard of the emergency suite where you are able to manage the real-time progress of an ongoing crisis or emergency situation, as well as to view all your reports in one place as they are being updated in real-time.
The best part? You get all these tools in a single platform. You don’t need to worry about switching between tabs or desktop clients!
SimplyCast is also dedicated to the highest levels of information security, which is why the entire platform is ISO 27001:2013 certified. This means our platform is complete with the necessary capabilities needed to carry out efficient procedures, connect with stakeholders and citizens, and provide comprehensive situational awareness.
Interested? Want to see it for yourself before you make a decision?
Click the button below to request a demo.