Each state has different requirements and guidelines for businesses based on their industry, the impacts of COVID-19, and the amount of customer contact. For additional information on your state, check your state's official government's website. Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a state guide for businesses. The Wall Street Journal created a free state-by-state guide for reopening and lockdowns.
While each business runs differently, they all have similar operations requirements. This guide provides you an overview of steps you can take to ensure a smooth reopening.
The most essential step in safely reopening your business is knowing how COVID-19 impacted your area. There are many resources out there, but make sure to look for industry-specific and local resources.
In addition to being a reliable news source, the CDC created resources designed for small businesses and their reopening guides. The CDC also created industry-specific guidelines for business impacted by COVID-19.
Since the path to reopening is in the hands of state government, governors and state officials are working to ensure residents are informed about new state regulations or guidance around COVID-19.
Once you have an understanding of your state's guidance and regulations around reopening your business, there are several safety factors you'll need to consider.
Based on your state's guidelines and regulations, your employees and customers may be required to wear face coverings. To prepare for reopening day, make sure to communicate this to employees and customers in advance and create in-store signage.
While washing your hands and covering your mouth are ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are additional measures you have to take as a small business owner. Based on your industry, you may be required to use additional forms of personal protective equipment (gloves, face shields, goggles, etc.). To keep your employees and customers safe, make sure you have extra in stock and are replacing contaminated or worn PPE.
If your business has employees, you'll need to take extra precautions in ensuring they feel safe coming to work and are healthy. OSHA created tips to monitor the health of your employees and controls you can put in placate to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
Based on your state's guidelines and regulations, you may be required to encourage and practice social distancing. Before reopening day, see if you can reconfigure your location to meet these requirements and guidelines better. This can include changing workspace layouts, limiting or removing shared spaces, and more.
Each business is different, but they all have similar operational needs. To get ready for reopening day, make a list in advance and review what requires action. Some examples include, but are not limited to:
Based on your anticipated order volume or traffic, plan for how many people you'll need to meet your customers' demands safely. Consider some of OSHA's workplace controls when you're planning a schedule.
If your business was impacted during COVID-19, and you need assistance staying afloat, there are several federal resources available like the Paycheck Protection Program. Our partner, Bench, is offering free loan consultations for small businesses.
Based on your state's guidelines and regulations, you may be required to limit the number of people allowed in your business at once to practice social distancing. To better plan for day one, see if there are measures (guide tape, barriers, signs, etc.) you can take to help enforce these policies.
All states are reopening in different phases. To ensure you're following your state's guidelines and regulations, check your state's official website for detailed information. As you create a timeline that mirrors your state, plan in extra time to address unexpected events (product delays, cleanings, state guidelines, etc.) that can occur during your reopening.
When you're ready to open your doors, you'll need to communicate with your employees, vendors, and customers proactively. This step is pivotal in ensuring a successful reopening.
The most important part of keeping your business afloat is ensuring your employees are informed on your reopening plan, new policies and procedures, and what to expect going forward. Try to share this information as far in advance as possible to capture feedback and answer any questions they might have.
If your business works with vendors, make sure you communicate with them as early as possible to ensure your orders and supplies are ready. Similar to your business, they may have taken several reopening and safety precautions, which can cause delays.
The world is operating differently, so most customers expect your business will too. To provide transparency, proactively communicate these changes with them. Not only will this tell them what to expect, but it's another way to stay engaged with your customers.
In addition to proactive communication, you'll need to create a communication and marketing plan around your reopening.
Now that you've taken the time to think about what's needed for day one and captured feedback from your employees, it's time to put your plan to action.