COVID-19 turned the world upside down. Businesses were shuttered, economies came to a screeching halt, and everything was put on hold. California is currently in the midst of a deep recession with small businesses reporting a revenue decline of 40-50 percent and state revenue projected to be down 20 percent in 2020.
So, what’s next? As we return to the “new normal,” how can you reopen your business after COVID closures? While it may be tempting to jump right in, there’s a lot to consider. Here’s our quick overview of how to reopen your business.
How to Reopen Your Business
There’s a lot of guidance available on what you must do to comply with regulation – our guide covers everything that you should do to welcome customers back and help your business thrive.
Before You Open
As tempting as it is to reopen and bring your customers back as soon as possible – implementing new mandates does require some planning for long-term viability.
- See if you’re allowed to reopen: California’s latest reopening plan uses a four-tier system based on the number of active cases and increasing numbers within a single county. (You can check the status of your county here.) Even if you can’t open quite yet, now’s the perfect time to start planning your reopening.
- Check local regulations: Rules are constantly changing. Make sure you read up on the latest regulations pertaining to your location and business. This will give you a good basis for creating a reopening plan that meets your businesses-specific requirements.
- Develop your plan: There’s so much to consider when it comes to how to reopen your business. It’s also important to think about how things may need to change to meet today’s needs. Make sure to evaluate your business model and finances, consider how operations need to change (including cleaning and disinfecting, staffing, layout), and come up with a response plan in case someone tests positive. Regardless of your business specifics, there are a few core elements that should be part of every reopening plan:
- Communicate your plan: Once you have an established plan, it needs to be communicated to everyone – both staff and customers. Communication with employees should be done before opening to make sure everyone feels comfortable and understands what is expected of them. Communication with customers should be ongoing. You’re going to need to inform them that you’re open, what you’re doing to keep everyone safe, the new procedures in place, etc.
A successful reopening is largely dependent on effective ongoing communication with your employees and customers.
While You’re Open
In the first few weeks of being open, do what you can to make sure to follow your plan, but also leave some wiggle room to reevaluate as needed. We recommend getting feedback from customers and employees to see if you’re meeting their expectations and consider how things can be changed to run more smoothly. This is a “new normal” after all, so you want to be sure you can modify operations as needed.
While your business is open, there are three things that should be top a priority for business owners:
- Cleaning protocols: Without proper cleaning protocols in place, it will be impossible to stay We recommend finding a cleaning and safety consultant who can help you evaluate your risks and develop and implement the right cleaning protocols for your business. The best consultants will also be able to provide cleaning services on a regular basis as well as materials to help communicate your procedures.
- Signage: Post legally mandated signs visibly around your business. In addition to the required signs, post information on other things you’re doing to keep customers safe and any changes customers might need or to know.
- On-hand supplies: Stock up on required supplies and make sure you have the resources to keep them stocked. This includes not just COVID-19-related PPE but also additional supplies to prevent sharing and reuse.
How to Reopen Your Business – and Stay Open
As things continue to evolve it’s crucial that business owners communicate and recommunicate everything they are doing to protect employees and customers. This is particularly important if things change – customers are wary of coming back if they don’t know how things are operating and they tend to err on the side of caution.
To stay open, establish policies for:
- Sick employees: Sick policies need to ensure that employees not only have the option to stay home but are actively encouraged to do so. This includes necessary leave for quarantining or childcare. One sick employee could quickly upend business operations right as you reopen – especially if they expose the rest of your staff.
- Disinfecting and cleaning: Janitorial services used to be fine – but that was before COVID. Now, you need advanced cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing services to be sure that surfaces are actually safe. There are many cleaning and disinfection options available from traditional janitorial services, to standard disinfecting, to advanced disinfecting. The most advanced solutions not only clean, but also use antimicrobial solutions to maintain that disinfection for an extended period of time.
Reopening and staying open is all about effective communication.
Customers are confused – but the businesses that consistently communicate that they’re open, safe, and convenient will thrive.
Find a Reopening Business Partner
Figuring out how to reopen your business is daunting but also exciting. We know that you’re eager to get things back to “normal,” so it’s best to be prepared to make your reopening transition as smooth as possible.
We recommend finding a partner, like Aerify, that can help guide you through the stages of pre-opening, opening, and staying open – plus, provide advanced disinfecting services (our services keep surfaces clean and protected for up to 45 days!). Combining cleaning and ongoing communication will allow your customers to feel confident in returning to your business.