The ravaging COVID pandemic threatened the livelihood and businesses of most entrepreneurs and small businesses. The unsustainable costs of maintaining closed businesses and the challenges associated with safe reopening are difficult. As such, businesses looking to reopen while ensuring safe operations should be wary of the following obstacles.
Getting the Right Timing
Even with standardized government regulations, the rules guiding the resumption of businesses vary from one state or city to another. For instance, businesses were given the green light to resume in California in late April. While some swung back to operations, other establishments, such as tour companies, did not open fully.
Besides, even if your state has permitted reopening, it might not be the right time to resume your business. Also, customers were not ready or didn’t know about reopened businesses. Since most businesses open in phases, it is difficult for clients to keep track if the places they frequented before the pandemic are open. This explains why most businesses risked dedicating their capital and time, fearing they wouldn’t generate enough revenue during this period.
As such, businesses should embark on popularization measures and other tactics to increase customer interest and awareness. Promotion, email marketing campaigns, and social media platforms are some of the best strategies to increase customer awareness about your reopened business.
The Cost of Heightened Safety Regulations
The closure of businesses during the pandemic led to months of lost revenue. As businesses reopen, entrepreneurs will likely incur additional costs before beginning their operations. Surprisingly, the pandemic brought to light the realization that most businesses initially ignored the required health and safety measures. Most establishments operate without following the recommended health guidelines.
However, this is bound to change as businesses resume. According to government directives, entrepreneurs should meet proper sanitation regimens, install plexiglass barriers, employees should use masks, thermometers, and other equipment before reopening. Some businesses have to reconfigure their mode of operations while ensuring social distancing measures.
Apart from safety measures aimed at minimizing the spread of the virus, local authorities have also made it mandatory for businesses to observe other basic health guidelines. Simple measures, such as operating in a clean environment, providing health coverage for employees, proper business waste management, and others, should be prioritized. Such additional costs are a big challenge for most businesses.
Change in Consumer Habits
Businesses also face the serious challenge of changing consumer purchase and spending habits. Most people worry about becoming ill or their loved ones falling sick. Financial challenges resulting from job losses are other genuine concerns. Therefore, as customers try to handle the current difficult situations, their shopping and spending preferences have changed.
Global trends predict that most customers will change their shopping preferences, some currently prefer buying online, and others prioritize dining establishments with spaced layouts when eating out. Such changes and uncertainty in customer behavior should be a common concern for all small businesses.
However, enterprises still have chances of success by proving to employees and customers that their establishments are safe. Publishing awareness blogs or sharing short videos showing their safety protocols are good ways of gaining customer confidence. Businesses should also be sensitive to customer spending, knowing that most people limit their spending as they prepare for unknown future situations.
Therefore, offering discounts for customers who buy in bulk, freebies to loyal customers, and limited-time sales are good methods of acquiring and retaining customers.
Concerns about the Second Wave
Even with a subsiding number of infections and fatalities, there are rising concerns about a second wave of the virus. According to a recent poll, approximately 65% of small business owners fear they will close soon or remain non-operational amidst fears of a second wave. If it does happen, the second wave will come with several struggles for small businesses.
For instance, the government may order the closure of businesses after several outbreaks, even after spending heavily to meet the required standards during the reopening. Most restaurant and bar entrepreneurs found themselves in this situation when health officials associated their business with increased positive cases in some U.S States.
However, businesses should make adjustments that safeguard their establishments if the second wave hits. Some adjustments include purchasing additional products and supplies and improving digital sales and payment options.
Apart from the existing problems in the business world, the pandemic launched a series of new challenges affecting both consumers and businesses. Preexisting issues such as cash flow challenges and imperfect work-life balance have been aggravated by this uncertain period. Other potential challenges businesses should expect during reopening include difficulties in the supply chain and decreased revenue or cash flow problems. Therefore, it is prudent for businesses to identify potential challenges in advance for proper planning and reevaluation before reopening. Businesses can also take advantage of COVID surcharge loans offered by the government and other institutions.
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