What to do Before Reopening Your Physical Locations

Some states are beginning to reopen their economies after long weeks of closure, social distancing, and shelter in place orders. Small business owners across the country are itching to open their doors and get back to work, and while unlocking the door and hanging up a big grand reopening banner is a great start, there are more steps necessary to be ready for the big day.

Get the Go-Ahead

Restrictions and requirements for businesses and their operations to meet before reopening differ from state to state and in some cases, are further restricted by the local government as well. Some states, for instance, require reopened businesses to screen employees for illnesses and enforce social distancing guidelines, and others have strict limits on the number of patrons allowed inside at once. As a business owner, it’s up to you to find out what your state and local governments require and implement any changes before reopening your doors. Though potentially burdensome, the restrictions and requirements will be relaxed eventually and will protect you, your employees, and your customers until the crisis is contained.

Rebuilding Your Team 

Reach out to your employees so that you can get them back on the schedule. Getting in touch with employees that are still on your payroll will be simple enough, but it may be harder to reach people you had to furlough or lay off due to the crisis. Not everyone may be willing or able to return to work on time, but the current economic climate should make it easy to hire new staff in a hurry. 

Once you’ve rehired and scheduled your employees, you’ll need to make sure they’re healthy and well-briefed on the new crisis-related health policies and restrictions. Employees that show any kind of respiratory symptoms (COVID-19-related or otherwise) should be sent home, and healthy employees will be required to wear protective gear like masks and gloves. Consider adding health and safety talking points to your daily team meetings, providing them with sneeze guards or face guards, and use well-placed safety signs to remind employees and customers alike about the importance of good hygiene. A little diligence and supervision will go a long way towards preventing the spread of illness among those who enter your store or business. 

Ready for Action

Make sure your brick and mortar locations are physically ready to be reopened. Check to see if there have been any leaks, signs of forced entry, or other damages that may have occurred while they were closed. Turn any disconnected utilities back on and make sure to test the lights, water, internet, and phones prior to reopening. You should also make sure your security system is in working order, including a test of the cameras and sensors individually. Taking care of any problems before reopening will save you the stress of having to arrange for repairs while your business is open. 

Next, do an inventory of all the stock you have on hand. Any perishable items will naturally need to be disposed of and reordered, and you’ll want to make sure to order enough products to meet the pent-up demand of customers who’ve been waiting to shop for weeks.  It’s also a good idea to run several test transactions through your point of sale systems to make sure you can serve customers efficiently when your doors open again. 

Get the Word Out

There’s one last step before your grand reopening: letting customers know that you’re back. In a perfect world, you’d be able to announce your return with a huge ad buy, but most small businesses can’t afford to produce and run big TV commercials. Since you likely rely on local customers, you can use a combination of physical advertising and low-cost marketing mailers to spread the word while staying well within your budget. 

Big, colorful custom flags and banners in conspicuous spots outside your store(s) will attract the attention of passersby, and you can even use moving props like custom inflatable tube men to really grab the attention of passing motorists. Add low-cost mailers and print or online ads to the mix and you’ll have a potent, cost-effective approach to regaining old customers and attracting new ones. 

Back in Business

Life is beginning to return to normal, but we’re not there yet. Small businesses will find that reopening isn’t as simple as just opening their doors. Complying with the new requirements and addressing the concerns of customers and employees will take some adjustments, but small business owners are used to rolling with the punches. Businesses will adapt to these new conditions and overcome the challenges they present. 

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