Key Considerations as You Reopen Your Small Business

Your Physical Space

While every business is different, it’s important to think through changes to your physical space that promote social distancing and reduce the risk of infection.

If your business is frequented by customers, consider how you can rearrange the floor plan or make other adjustments. If your business is less public-facing, consider moving desks further apart, staggering shifts, and other modifications.

  • Ensure that employees have access to hand soap, cloth face coverings, gloves, tissues, paper towels, and a designated trash bin to dispose of used items.
  • Provide resources and a work environment that promotes personal hygiene such as tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, alcohol-based hand rubs, disinfectants, and disposable towels for workers to clean their work surfaces.
  • Disinfect phones, shared tools, scanning devices, and other shared items regularly.
  • Discourage shared use of desks, offices, or phones.

Your Employees

Your team will play a key role in your successful relaunch. Engaging your employees and clearly communicating your plans will go a long way in reminding employees of the critical role they play within the business.

  • Thank employees for their commitment and acknowledge the financial and mental stress the pandemic has placed upon them.
  • Consider your reopening hours. Come up with a plan that is fluid for what schedules might look like under several different operating models.
  • Stay in close communication with your team and share your plans with them. Sharing your reopening plan reminds your team that they are a key factor in the success of your business.
  • Employees with disabilities that put them at high risk for complications of COVID-19 may request telework as a reasonable accommodation to reduce their chances of infection. Employers should make workplaces as safe as possible for workers.
  • Develop leave policies that promote workers staying at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when required by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household.
  • Develop and communicate a policy for informing workers if they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 and requiring them to quarantine for the required amount of time, being sure to protect the privacy of workers’ health status and health information.
  • Communicate clear policies regarding social distancing between employees and members of the public.
  • Face-to-face staff meetings should be limited and respect physical distancing. Increase your electronic workplace communications (texts, emails, instant messaging, phone calls) with staff to reduce frequent face-to-face contact.

Your Vendors

Hopefully you’ve been in communicate with key vendors throughout this disruption to your business. As you prepare to reopen, keep those lines of communication open to make sure all parties involved understand your plans and projections.

  • Review your current inventory. Take stock of what you have on hand and what you anticipate needing in the first 30 and 60 days of reopening.
  • Talk to your vendors about payment options. Remember they want you to succeed as well – you are their customer! Many may be willing to consider 30, 45 or even 60 day payment options on new orders.
  • Make sure you have a safe process to receive supplies and other deliveries. Clearly communicate this plan to vendors and employees.

Your Customers

As businesses begin to reopen, many customers are eager to show their support for local businesses. On the other hand, others may be apprehensive about reentering public spaces.

Work to clearly communicate with customers about your reopening plan. These updates should be shared frequently across multiple channels.

  • Clearly communicate with customers about your reopening plan. Share updates on social media, updates on your website, email newsletters, and through clear signage in the space.
  • Help welcome customers back and make them feel comfortable by making sure your establishment is fresh, clean, and organized.
  • Show you appreciate your customers through welcome back promotions and going above and beyond to thank them for their business.
  • Depending on your business, make sure that things like menus are updated if you are reopening with reduced inventory or product offerings.

We’re Here to Help

Our business experts at the Missouri Small Business Development Center at Missouri State University have worked hard to help business owners navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

As businesses being to reopen, our mission remains the same. We will continue to be here to assist you. You can find more business tips on the blog, view the calendar of upcoming trainings, and find other COVID-19 resources on our site.