Posted by The TaxAdvocate Group, LLC

How to Plan the Reopening Of Your Small Business

How to Plan the Reopening Of Your Small Business

The COVID-19 epidemic has prompted many small businesses to close their doors, but there will come a day when it may reopen (as is happening now). Local jurisdictions and the federal government are beginning to explore what the new normal will look like, but in the meantime, here are the measures you can take to prepare for the reopening. 

Why should you have a reopening plan?

Reopening your company after a shelter in place is not like opening a business for the first time. There are new considerations to consider and processes to be implemented that will change your business.

Since there are a lot of complexities in reopening after a shelter in place is lifted, having a well-researched and well-planned plan ahead of time can help open the doors and start increasing income faster when the time comes. 

Steps to writing a reopening plan for your business

Check out what you have learned about your business.

While your business is closed due to the lockdown, you may have had time to observe and think about the new shape your business will take when it reopens. What have you learned about the company, your employees, and your customers during this time? What have you learned from other companies in your sector? Are there any new processes you can implement to improve your business? What new products would you like to offer?

Writing out and answering these questions will help you find ways to improve when you reopen. You can come out of this with a new business model or make changes to the current model. It's crucial to take the time to think about it and decide how your business can evolve, as this will dictate your plan to reopen. 

Make a list of your areas of interest

Once you've assessed some of the things you've learned and the changes you can make, it's time to plan your reopening more concretely. The best way to do this is to break it down into areas of interest relevant to your business.

The areas you choose should be specific to your business, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Customers

  • Finances

  • Physical location

  • Regulatory changes

  • Shipping and logistics

  • Supply chain

  • Workforce

Create a reopening plan for each focus area.

Your plan for each area of interest should be specific to how you plan to run your business. Here's a format you can follow and questions you can ask to get started.

Customers: When it comes to customers, you need to think about their security, manage their expectations, and communicate. There may be regulations in your local jurisdiction that you will need to follow when it comes to maintaining social posting and applying for coverage that you should consider when planning to reopen.

You also need to consider best practices and what makes sense for your business and what is needed. You can create a communication plan to let customers know what is expected of them (e.g., don't bring your bags, you have to wear a mask, etc.). You can also communicate any changes to your business model, such as new product offerings or new ways customers can interact with you.

Some questions about customers who might be called upon to guide this process:

  • Are there new ways for my customers to interact with my business based on the new regulations?

  • Do clients have new needs that I can help them with?

  • What new policies should I implement to keep customers and employees safe?

Finance: Here, you can detail what financial assets you have today, liquidity, and the total cash you have at hand or in the bank to restart your business. So you can calculate how much money you will need to reopen. This calculation can be broken down into smaller line items (areas of interest) to indicate how much money you will need to fund each area to open your entire business. If those numbers don't match, that's fine. You can figure out where you can make discounts or changes or find the right funds for your business.

Some financial questions that can be asked to guide this process:

  • How will I document my expenses in the future if I have to report my finances to a creditor?

  • Do I expect the value of any of my items to change due to in-place protection mandates? 

  • If I decide to go with a new business model, what type of income change can I expect to reopen?

  • Is there a payment or funding process that can change?

Labor: Here, you need to document a plan for heating, terminating permits, or transporting workers remotely to a physical location. On the other hand, if the way the business model is changing doesn't require a physical location, you'll need to come up with a plan for employees to work remotely. When creating a workforce plan, consider CDC recommendations, OSHA compliance, and local laws.

Some workforce questions can be asked to guide this process:

  • If my employee is unwilling or unable to return to work due to illness, what will my policy be?

  • What are my employees saying about feeling safe at work?

  • What equipment (e.g., physical barriers, gloves, masks, thermometers) do I need to provide to ensure the safety of my employees?

  • What procedures and protocols (e.g., temperature measurement, hand washing) will I implement to ensure employee safety?

Physical Location: Here, you want to list the physical locations that you intend to operate. If you are a multi-site company, you will need to develop a specific reopening plan for each of your locations, as different locations have different rules when it comes to easing the lockdown.

Some questions about the location can be asked to guide this process: 

Are there any changes I want to make in my location 

  • To adapt to a new procedure or a new business model?

  • Do I need to change my physical location or my location settings to keep my customers and employees safe?

  • What signals or warnings should I display in front of my location?

Regulatory Changes: During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries experienced major regulatory changes affecting the way businesses operate. You will need to take this into account and develop plans for new regulations in your industry or areas adjacent to your business.

Some regulatory questions can be asked to guide this process:

  • Am I prepared to negotiate due to regulatory changes, if necessary?

  • How will I be informed of regulatory changes in my sector?

  • What impact on income can I expect from the new regulations?

Supply chain: Here, you will be asked to provide details on the supply required for reopening, new materials, and logistics to obtain these products. Since many of your vendors may need to shut down production, it's good to have a backup plan if you don't have all the resources you need in time to reopen.

Some supply chain questions can be asked to guide this process:

  • How far in advance will I contact my suppliers to order my deliveries?

  • Are there new supply logistics that I should know about?

  • What is the best alternative if I do not receive these items?

  • Will I change the supplier for my reopening deliveries?

Transport and Logistics: Here, you will document the new transport and logistics procedures necessary to reopen. This is important if you are making changes to your business that will depend on the curbside pickup, shipping, or delivery to reach your clients in new ways when they reopen.

Some transportation and logistics questions can be asked to guide this process:

  • Does reopening depend on activating a new way of reaching customers?

  • What are the new transport and logistics rules in my geographic area?

  • Are there new customer expectations to be set for the way we ship and logistics?

  • What income swap can I expect?

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