It’s wild to think that a few months back, huge crowds packed into bars to watch the Super Bowl or headed to the arena to witness Lebron James go on another championship run. It seems like an eternity ago.
As a small business owner, the days when you ran your business like normal seem long gone, too. But your business is your livelihood, and with businesses sporadically opening up around the country, you're probably wondering when you can reopen.
How do you know the time is right to welcome customers back in your doors? Here are five signs.
1. You're in compliance with the law
Stay-at-home orders and mandatory closures vary greatly by region, so check what your state and locality have to say before you reopen. The worse the COVID-19 problem is in your area, the more likely the restrictions are going to be prohibitive.
Review any coronavirus-related orders in your state and consult with an attorney to be safe. You don't want to risk being shut down or — worse — be responsible for an outbreak because you didn't heed the warnings.
2. You have a plan to protect customers
Managing customer flow during a pandemic is tough. Make sure they're wearing masks and design your business to handle multiple customers at once while maintaining appropriate distancing — or find some way to limit how many customers are on site at all times, perhaps through a reservation system.
You have to manage many logistical hurdles before you can welcome customers back. If you don't have an ironclad plan for keeping customers safe, don’t reopen until you do.
3. Your customers desperately need you
The service you provide makes a difference. For example, if you run a grocery store, you probably got an increase in business due to COVID-19 — prices certainly rose during the early months of the pandemic due to massive demand. But not every business provides a service customers desperately need.
Ask yourself, how much does your customer need you to reopen? Are you a luxury or an essential — or somewhere in between? If you're a barber, you can bet your customers are itching for you to reopen.
If you run a laser tag business that specializes in kids' birthday parties, you're probably going to have to wait until there's a widely available vaccine.
4. You've made the necessary adjustments
When you reopen your business, you are reopening to a different world. Customers have changed their habits, most likely permanently, but certainly temporarily. If you throw open your doors with the exact same business model and expect the same traffic as before, you're going to be disappointed.
Study the changes that COVID-19 has forced on the public and estimate how that will affect your industry in the long run. Then, come up with a plan. For example, if you run a restaurant, devise a new business plan where a greater percentage of your business comes from delivery.
5. You’ve got software that can handle a new reality
If you’ve never used software to manage your business or you aren’t happy with what you currently have, now is the time to think seriously about what kind of software you really need.
It’s a new beginning for you, and you should have a platform that will make it easy to manage your business to be successful in this new world.
Do you manage a sales team? Our reviews of CRM software will help you find a solution that tracks your salespeople no matter where they are and generates detailed analytics. Do you run a construction firm?
Construction management software will help you totally change day-to-day management of the job site to keep workers safe. Do you own a plumbing company?
Use field service management software to initiate a reservation system that will improve communication between your plumbers and your customers so they can stay socially distanced.
It's a tough time for everyone, but if you handle it right, this might be an opportunity to take your company to the next level.