We’re living in extraordinary times. The COVID-19 virus is nothing like we’ve ever seen. The closest we’ve had was the SARS outbreak in 2003, but SARS suddenly looks like child’s play compared to how COVID-19 is spreading and infecting people worldwide.
Taking a cue from other countries struggling to contain the disease, our own local governments have enacted more proactive measures to minimize or contain the spread of the disease somehow.
In addition to its effect on public health and our everyday way of life, the impacts of COVID-19 on business and the economy are also significant. As a business owner, you might be asking yourself: what are the best things I can do during this time of crisis?
You’ll need to make a lot of adjustments, particularly to your operations, in order to comply with local public health directives. If your business provides essential services, you’ll also want to enact measures to account for the safety and health of your team. You’ll also want to stay in touch with your clients and customers more than usual. Lastly (and certainly not the least), you can take this opportunity to further future-proof your organization.
Safety First: Observe Proper Hygiene
Remember, we’re all in this together. And we can help prevent and contain the spread of the virus by just being a bit more hygiene-conscious.
No handshakes for now; an alternate, non-contact method for greetings must be used in the meantime.
Everyone should wash their hands (the right way) when they arrive and when they enter your premises. Encourage all to wash as frequently throughout the day. Also, try not to touch your face, and have facemasks handy for those who are expected to interact with customers or guests.
Disinfection Is For Your Protection
If you’ve been regularly disinfecting work surfaces, tables, and desks, continue to do so, only more frequently.
Don’t forget to sanitize doorknobs, handrails, POS systems, phones, laptops, and other regularly used devices and work implements.
Give Your Employees Some Flexibility
If your company can adopt a work-from-home or telecommuting policy for employees, that would greatly help as well. Remember, there are already a lot of free tools you can use to have team members collaborate and communicate remotely, as well as track tasks and deliverables.
Keep in mind that many communities are moving towards lockdown, so some team members might need to be on hand to take care of their kids or elderly relatives. We encourage you to be as understanding as possible when these things come up. Have contingency plans in place just in case you find yourself under-manned.
Rethink Your Meetings and Travel Plans
Forego traveling if you can to minimize your exposure to the virus. Hold meetings virtually if you can. A lot of conferences and events are being postponed indefinitely (or even canceled altogether), so you might as well stay put for now.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
A report from Harvard Business Review says that “When customers are separated from the work that’s being done behind the scenes to serve them, they appreciate the service less and then they value the service less.”
So in times like these, communicating with your clients and customers is now even more important. Describe the steps you’re taking to mitigate risk. Let them know how your actions are helping the community. Keep lines of communication open and make yourself available.
Rocklin Pest Control Services had done just that, releasing not just an email newsletter for their clients, but also a blog post on their website, along with social media updates.
Review Your Crisis and Business Continuity Policies
They say nothing tests theory quite like reality. You may have business continuity programs in place, but remember that it has to be adaptable enough to meet the unexpected developments of just about any crisis situation.
Your resilience and adaptability are key to your business’s ability to not just survive these challenging times, but also to continue to thrive and work towards future-proofing your operation.
Seriously Consider Making The Shift Online
Thanks to the many marketing automation tools available today, you can still do a lot even with a lean team. You can continue your content marketing and digital marketing efforts, especially if it’s in line with helping your target audience make sense of the latest COVID-19 developments, or helping your clients run their businesses as usual.
In Wuhan, just as the virus has reached epidemic levels, the cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan closed 40% of its stores — but the brand’s 100+ beauty advisors took to digital platforms like WeChat to engage customers virtually and increase online sales.
“As a result, its sales in Wuhan achieved 200% growth compared to the prior year’s sales,” writes Harvard Business Review.
So if you have plans of closing your store, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce advises, “find ways to keep your employees earning a paycheck by selling on social media, putting your email list to good use or using a video tool to reach new leads.”
Support Local Businesses
Now, more than ever, we must stick together as a community.
So support local businesses however you can. Talk to your suppliers, investors, partners, stakeholders, and local officials on how you can be part of the solution, at least in your space or in your industry.
Plan For the Long Term
We have absolutely no idea how events around our communities (and from around the world) will affect us in the next coming days, weeks or even months.
It might be a while until we get back to business as usual. So, for now, start looking into implementing more long-term safeguards and adjustments to help you stay afloat. Health authorities are working tirelessly to contain (and hopefully cure) COVID-19, and the best we can do at this point is to make the most out of a bad situation.
Get your information on COVID-19 from reputable news sources (such as the World Health Organization or your local government). The more well-informed you are about the latest developments, the better you can make smarter decisions.
A Final Word About Managing Your Business During Times of Crisis
The COVID-19 outbreak is truly remarkable by any standard, as its effects are global and far-reaching. So much is uncertain, but there’s a prevailing sentiment among authorities that things might get worse before they get better.
Faced with such extraordinary circumstances, businesses that have the capacity to adapt and be creative will certainly have a better chance of rising above this crisis.
Even as you re-evaluate your operations and forecasts, you should also take this time to shift a lot of your sales, marketing, and business development activities online. Revisit your crisis communication strategies. Continue to plan for the future. And ensure that your company can weather future crises with improved business continuity protocols and disaster recovery initiatives.
Lastly, in the same manner that you’re continuing to take care of your customers, take good care of your employees as well. Find ways to support (or even partner up) with local businesses. We can weather these difficult days better together, and your leadership as a responsible business owner is needed now more than ever.