What are your next steps? It can be very overwhelming to plan a return to business, now take into account all of the new guidelines that need to be followed and many business owners are just giving up! Instead, business owners should be trying to prepare for the most effective return to work – even if you’ve already returned! There are 9 simple steps to take that provide you and your team with a smooth return to work.

1. Re-educate and Prepare
Before you return to work, ensure that you’ve educated yourself on all the local rules and regulations. Each local council has its own guidelines that you’ll need to follow, find these out. Also, understand how your clients may feel. Are they worried? Are they uncomfortable? You can continue to provide excellent customer experience if you’re educated on these things.

Once you’re educated, prepare! Get all the PPE equipment or hand sanitiser that you need. Ensure that you show this off too. Have everything out on show so customers feel comfortable touching PIN pads and door handles.

2. Re-build your Team
Having a team behind you is crucial at a time like this. Whether it’s employees, contractors, suppliers, they’re all very important. Therefore, it’s important that your team feel safe. Take into account their worries and concerns and then put some standards and protocols into place and ensure they know exactly what these are. How often are they cleaning? How would you like them to greet people?

If you’re continuing to work remotely, how often are you communicating? The team is used to having a quick chat every few minutes whereas now you may be speaking just once a week or once a day. Don’t forget about your furloughed staff too! They’ll need some support and confidence in a time like this.
Finally, understand that productivity may take time. It’s just like starting from the beginning so try not to expect too much too soon.

3. Re-new with Deals for Days
You need to get your customers’ attention and deals are the perfect way to do it. People do have money as they haven’t been able to spend it, so offer them a little something! Start with your existing customers. What can you offer them to remind them that you’re there? If it’s not cost-effective to offer this to your whole client base then offer it to your top 20% – those who bring in the most money. Then move onto attracting new customers. Many customer relationships have been broken due to a lack of communication so there are customers out there with no loyalties to your competitors.

Consider that you may have a completely new audience! Prior to the pandemic, you may have only done B2B work but during lockdown have found a way to sell B2C. Now you have a completely new audience that you need to maintain with a deal!

Also, don’t just do this deal for a day or a week. Remember that people are coming back to normality at different times. We would suggest keeping these deals running for the next quarter however, you can go for a month if you’d prefer.

4. Re-opening Announcements
Announce everything!! Make sure that you’re regularly communicating with existing and potential clients by sharing announcements with them. This will build up a sense of excitement from them, pushing them to buy from you when you re-open. Whether it’s the first day back, the first sale, or the first team meeting share it with everyone!

5. Re-do your Celebration
You have survived this, celebrate!! Celebrate your team, celebrate your customers, and celebrate your community. It’s been a tough time and we’ve done well. Then share this celebration with your following. Make it newsworthy and memorable in order to continue building that excitement. Go all out and cut a ribbon. Or you can keep it simple with a video of you first re-opening your doors.

6. Re-run your Numbers
The facts and figures are a really important backbone to your business so remember that every decision you make will either make you money or cost you money, so is it really worth it? The main issue with numbers is that most people don’t understand them. You need to understand when you’ll break even and then re-evaluate this regularly. We know, this probably isn’t your definition of fun but it needs to be done, and there’s plenty of help on YouTube if you get stuck.

Most of us have been lucky enough to benefit Government money, so use it wisely. This money can either be a debt or an investment and that depends on the way you use it. So, ensure to use it wisely to make it an investment.

7. Re-think your Marketing and Sales
In order to get the right leads and sales, you will need to completely realign your marketing. Rather than just talking about the benefits of your product or service you will need to take a more educational approach. Remember there are many people who are still concerned and worried, explain how your product or service can help them through that. Utilise video and testimonials to create more impact on your following and also creating a relationship with them in a time where they need it most. Ask them how they are, how they’re coping. We would suggest to continually review your marketing every 4-12 weeks whilst in order to remain current and relevant.

8. Re-thank Everybody
You have not got through this alone. Thank your customers. Thank your team. Thank your suppliers, your bankers, your accountants. Thank the media and local politicians. And finally, thank your fellow business owners. This appreciation will go a long way within the community and you will always be remembered for it. Whether it’s an email, a social media post or a handwritten note get thanking!

9. Re-write your Plan
Lastly, you’re going to need to re-write your plan. Your business has changed and your plan needs to reflect this in its processes, its missions, and its strategy. Be prepared for the negative as well as the positive, will there be another lockdown? Once you’ve re-written your plan get someone to challenge you on it. Family, friend, colleague, whoever it is, get them to ask questions and really put you under the spotlight so that you can be sure you’re prepared for anything.

Finally, remember that re-opening is harder than closing. Although it was extremely disappointing to close during lockdown, all you had to do was shut your doors. Whereas now, you can’t just re-open those doors, you need to re-open those doors with social distancing measures in place for customers and staff as well as have strict protocols that everyone is aware of. This will take time but do not give up.

If you do require some support in re-opening your business post-lockdown then contact us on admin@Actioncoach.com as we have free coaching sessions and a grant scheme available to help small businesses in St Albans!