As Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID19) spreads, it creates concerns in all our communities both in relation to staying healthy and safe, but also in terms of how local businesses may be impacted. We have assembled a list of tips and resources to assist you.
TIP #1: Objectivity
During uncertain times it is easy to let panic take over. As with any other business decision or set of circumstances, it is important to make a conscious effort to remain calm and collected to better evaluate the situation.
Assess the situation objectively using credible sources to inform yourself, and be sure to follow advice to keep your place of business, your employees, your customers, and yourself, safe.
TIP #2: Communication with Customers
Communicate with your customers honestly. Maintaining a strong and positive communication channel with your customers is vital. Let them know what steps you and your employees are taking within your business to keep everyone safe. Let them know you value their business, appreciate their needs, and will do everything in your power to meet their needs as soon as it is safe and practicable to do so.
This brings us to educating your employees…
TIP #3: Implement Best Practices & Educate Employees
Providing leadership and guidance to your employees is always important, but particularly so in stressful times. Gather information from verifiable sources and print out simple but clear posters, bulletins, and infographics, to effectively communicate the message to all employees.
If your type of business allows for this, consider implementing telecommuting arrangements to enable employees to work from home. You can use a variety of technology platforms to communicate and collaborate well with everyone in your team, such as holding meetings via Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom. You should refrain from requiring them to attend large gatherings if they are uncomfortable doing so.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released interim guidance for Businesses and Employers regarding COVID-19.
Recommended strategies include actively encouraging sick employees to stay home, particularly those with a fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms; emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees; perform routine environmental cleaning, among others. Follow this link for additional information directly from the CDC.
You may also want to watch and share the following “What You Need to Know About Handwashing” video from the CDC:
You can also print out these posters to place in important places around your workspace:
These posters are also available for download from the CDC’s.
The National Restaurants Association suggests owners and operators reach out to their state and local health departments for the latest advisories/information about coronavirus in their community. A fact sheet that is industry-specific and available in English and Spanish can be found here.
TIP #4: Outline a Crisis Management Plan
If your business is disrupted (or further disrupted), what can you do to avoid a shutdown? What steps can you take to recover should you have to close your business for a few days? Preparedness is key.
- It might be an excellent time to obtain a line of credit or a low-interest loan to support cash flowing out of your business (to keep paying rent, utilities, employees) with less cash coming in.
- Be sure there isn’t one single employee with a lot of key information you won’t have access to should that employee necessitate sick leave or quarantine. Collect passwords and other key access information in one document that can be shared with you and your key employees.
- Assess any potential concerns related to your supply chain. Harvard Business Review has released an article you may want to read: Prepare Your Supply Chain for Coronavirus.
Visit our PrepareCT section for tips and guide on general disaster preparedness, and checklists you may find useful before and after.
TIP #5: Adapt, Improvise, Overcome
Layout some basic targets to measure progress. What do I do if this happens by this time, what is my next step if this does not happen? Be flexible by addressing the situation comprehensively and improvise when things don’t go according to plan.
The US Senate has approved a package of federal aid level which includes an emergency loan program for businesses that are impacted by Coronavirus and for hourly workers who contract it.
We anticipate the US Small Business Administration will be releasing information about eligibility and process to apply for these loans over the next two weeks. As more information is available, we will provide updates on our social media channels, and let you know when any financial relief packages for small businesses are put in place. Please be sure to register for our newsletter to stay tuned in, or sign-up for business assistance all from our home page at www.ctsbdc.com