My next few articles will be about the second of the 4Ps of your business: Planning. That’s the plan, anyway. (Get it?). Planning is particularly timely these days as many jurisdictions are slowly starting to re-open their economies. Business owners that have been forced to close or significantly scale back their operations will, fingers crossed, be permitted to re-open or scale back up within the coming weeks.
The Covid-19 pandemic has obviously altered the economic landscape for the foreseeable future. That means that whatever planning you had in place before the lockdown is probably obsolete at this point.
Over the last couple of months you have probably been navigating the intricacies of government assistance programs, working with your bankers and landlords, figuring out the legalities around employee layoffs, eliminating all variable expenses, and deferring all fixed expenses that you could. And, hopefully, you have been working ON your business as well, by looking for ways to refine and align the 4Ps of your business.
Now, with relaxing of restrictions on the horizon, it’s time to look forward and plan, to the extent possible given the ongoing uncertainties, for the future of your business. The next few articles should help with that.
But one specific and very practical thing I want to suggest in this article is for you to start to put your Covid-19 Operational Plan in place now. Most jurisdictions will require all businesses to have a written operational plan in place that complies with public health guidelines. While it is doubtful that governments will have the resources to approve these plans as part of the re-opening process, spot checks will likely be undertaken by authorities and so you will risk being shut down if you don’t have a compliant operational plan in place.
These operational plans will mean that you will likely have to alter how your customers access your premises, the number of people allowed on site, and how they interact with staff and with each other when they’re there. You may need to re-arrange your space for this. You may need to remove some chairs if you have a waiting room. You may need to install some barriers. You may need to add markings on the floor to direct people. You will need to put up lots of signage about new procedures, hygiene, and Covid-19 in general. You may need masks or gloves or other PPE. You will need to clean, clean, clean your space several times a day.
In short, you will need to change lots of things—and you will need to write them all down, train your staff on them, and have it available for review and inspection. This is not a small undertaking, so now is the time to get this done so you can be ready when your business gets the green light to re-open.
Check the government guidelines around these operational plans in your jurisdiction. For example, the New Brunswick guidelines are here (see Section 2). Make sure you check them regularly as they are bound to change as we move forward.
Also, connect with your industry association and, if they haven’t done this already, ask them to create a template plan for your industry that you can adapt for your particular circumstances.