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With the fast pace of COVID-19 developments, businesses are having to make quick adjustments to protect themselves, their staff, and their customers. Safeguarding the financial health of your business should also be a top priority.
While no one can be sure how things will unfold, consider the following steps to plan and protect your business during this time.
Support team health by adding or updating healthy habits education for your staff that must come into the office. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has free, printable posters on proper handwashing techniques and protocols for sneezing and coughing. You can also find CDC educational videos here.
Line up outside resources as backup for sick team members or for employees caring for others. Consider contract or freelance personnel if needed. If an economic slowdown might result in a reduction in staff hours, start planning schedules to ensure coverage for your business and a way to spread around hours to minimize the financial impact on any one person.
Assemble lists of cellphone numbers and email addresses for staff; contact information for vendors, freelancers and customers; and other critical information so you can quickly and easily access it when you need it. If your team will be reliant on conference calls, video conferencing, document storage applications, or other tools, disseminate this information to maintain team productivity.
Customer cancellations, or reluctance to visit your business, can have negative consequences. If your organization is still able to accommodate customers and clients safely, reach out with a reassuring message. Communicating that you are taking steps to provide service in a safe environment may encourage customers to keep appointments, visit your business, or maintain project momentum. Acknowledge the challenges we all face and what you are doing to reduce risk to anyone who visits. To maintain smooth operations, contact suppliers to ensure that deliveries will be made or to learn about any disruptions ahead. If delays are likely, communicate relevant consequences to customers so that they are informed.
To keep the financial lifeblood flowing smoothly through your organization, consider potential impacts on payments and billing. Customer payments may slow due to the many disruptions caused by the pandemic. Contact customers to ask about any modifications you need to make to invoice submissions, or any potential impacts to payment timing. On the billing front, determine if staff illness, distributed work, or other changes in your business might impact prompt billing. Make adjustments to avoid any slowdowns.
Ensure that you have adequate financial resources to manage a potentially challenging time ahead. Review current level of payments and potential challenges, assess liquidity levels, and ensure you have adequate financial resources. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is making some disaster financing available for businesses that have been impacted.
If your team is currently working outside the office, consider a shift to a cloud-based, document-sharing tool — Box, IDrive, and Dropbox are examples — to protect your company and customer data. If your office, store, or shop is closed, double-check that the alarm is in good working order and that all employees know how to properly set it. Lastly, while most of us pull together in challenging times, cybercriminals do not. Be on the alert for email scams aimed at businesses. The Department of Homeland Security has advice for avoiding COVID-19 cybercrimes.
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