It's official, we're moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 on Tuesday April 28! We heard the collective sigh of relief from business owners across the country.
So now what? Operating in Level 3 will not be business as usual. You will need to make sure you're across all of the Government directed health measures to keep your staff and customers safe. That's the number 1 priority. So you will need to look at how to do that effectively in your business, while making a profit. We've put together 5 tips that you should consider before hitting the 'go button' on your business.
1 Create or modify your business plan
If you're in business, you should be working from a business plan to keep you in check with your goals and ambitions. If you aren't, now is the perfect time to look at putting one together. And if you do have one already, business as you know it has more than likely changed, so sitting down and reassessing where you're at, but more importantly where you want to go, will be essential to your success. See our blog on clean-state business planning to get a practical guide on how to do this well.
We recommend checking in with your business advisor and going through your plan - this will ensure you're looking at the big picture, not missing any essential details, and you'll be guided and challenged along the way. If you don't have an advisor, or are keen on a second opinion, please get in touch! And don't forget RightWay is a registered provider with the Regional Business Partner Network. That means your business could benefit from Government funded advice and support simply by registering with the network. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0800 555 024 to find out more.
2 Look at your processes and systems
Processes and systems are the foundations of the day-to-day in your business. You're going to need your business to be operating as efficiently and as pain-free as possible, and your processes and systems could make all the difference. It would be worth sitting down and literally putting pen to paper, and map out the customer buying journey for your business. At each point, look at how that would work, what needs to be actioned, and look for any systems or support that could make it more efficient. If you're on the phone all day taking enquires or orders while also filling those orders or requests, you might find there aren't enough hours in the day! You could look at hiring someone to take over the customer service. Or maybe you can utilise an app or your website to take that information. Will your "new" business require you, or your staff, to spend more time working in the business? You could work with a bookkeeper to manage all your books and payroll etc.
There are tonnes of apps and websites that you could utilise to get your business going, while keeping transactions contactless. We've put together a list of some that might work for you:
- Swiftly - free app to sell products for click and collect, or delivery.
- Regulr - food/drink ordering app with location search for consumers.
- Shopify - ecommerce website that integrates with Xero. Discounted for COVID-19.
- Xero Marketplace - a directory of apps that integrate with Xero - there are some great ecommerce tools listed.
3 Assess how viable it is for your business to reopen
This might be quite black and white for some industries. For example if you're in the beauty service industry, you will remain closed unless you're selling products or vouchers online, which will need to be in line with Level 3 operating measures. If you're in hospitality however, there are quite a few things you should be assessing before considering a reopen. The first things to consider are whether or not you can produce your product within the Government safety guidelines, assessing if you're able to have staff on-site safely, and whether or not you will be able to get stock in to sell etc. From there, the biggest thing you should be assessing is if you can do all that reasonably and safely, will your product/service make you money? That might seem obvious, but there are a few things to consider that could get overlooked. There is no point going through all the effort of reopening, to sell something that will end up costing you more money to produce then sell. Sit down and do some calculations on the cost of wages, cost of stock, cost of any new systems you need for selling within Level 3 (POS, delivery etc), and then compare those costs with how much you can make from your product. Keeping in mind you more than likely won't be selling your usual quantities, therefore your usual profit will be different. Do the sums and you might be surprised!
4 Get your staff back on board
If you've had to close completely during the lockdown, hopefully you've been in regular contact with your staff. Either way, now is the time to check in with everyone and get their support with your plan for Level 3 operations. You'll need to communicate clearly the new business processes to keep everyone safe, and it would be a good idea to get feedback and input on those processes from your staff, as they will be the ones to be working with those processes. If you're met with any hesitations from your staff on returning to work, don't jump to conclusions! Some people may have dependants at home that need care, or are in a risk category themselves. We encourage you to have an open conversation with them to find out their situation. They may just need to work a different schedule than usual to make it work. Please do reach out to an HR advisor to discuss your situation so you can be sure you’ve looked at all options available to your business.
5 Re engage with your customers
Hopefully relaunching in Level 3 will result in your customers welcoming you back with open arms... Not literally though as physical distancing must be observed! Get on social media, email, the phone, put a sign up in your store and your website, advertise - tell everyone you're open. Make sure you're addressing all the safety precautions that need to be taken both for your customer's safety, and for the safety of your staff. Let them know how to buy from you and what products/services you can currently offer. It could also be a good opportunity to look at some incentives for getting rid of any old stock you'd like the cash for, do some discounts for relaunch, maybe run a competition, and get your products/service moving and your name back out there.
If you're in hospitality or retail, you could list your business with SOS business. This allows customers to buy vouchers from your business which is great for cash flow! But it is also a great opportunity to get your business on a well known listing website.