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Better Business Bureau®

Rebuild With BBB

Tips to build and maintain trust, survive, and thrive post COVID-19.



BBB is working hard to ensure that our Accredited Business Community is up-to-date with all possible resources needed during the COVID-19 recovery period. We will continue to provide information as it becomes available in this ever-changing landscape!



Financial Resources:


  • The SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met and funds are used for eligible expenses. Learn more about PPP loan forgiveness here. 
  • Tax Time Notes:
    • The CARES Act will change the way charitable contributions are deducted this year. Whether taxpayers are supporting natural disaster recovery, COVID-19 pandemic aid, or another cause that's personally meaningful to them, their charitable donations may be tax-deductible. These deductions basically reduce the amount of their taxable income. (Available to those who do not itemize as well.) Learn more here. 
    • Congress has announced that expenses paid for with PPP are tax-deductible. Learn more. 
  • ALERT: Did you get a bill for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, but you didn’t apply for one? It’s likely that an identity thief applied for the loan using your personal or business information. The SBA has new guidance about reporting fraud, and the FTC has tips to help you clear up any credit problems it may cause. 

Most have questions about PPP loans, forgiveness, and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL from SBA). Free assistance is available with reconstructing financial records, preparing financial statements, and submitting loan applications from any of SBA’s partners: Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), SCORE, Women’s Business Centers (WBC), Regional Innovation Clusters, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. 

SBA Arkansas is holding regular webinars about EIDL and PPP forgiveness. This is a great resource for business owners! 

Check out our last webinar on all things PPP 2.0 with guests from the SBA and Friday Firm.



Vaccinations

Two of the most frequently asked questions by businesses now that vaccines are available are "Can I ask my employees to get vaccinated?" and "How can I help with vaccination efforts?"

The Society for Human Resource Management has advice and resources for when employers can require vaccinations. There is a lot of conflicting advice out there on whether requiring vaccines is legal or moral. In addition to expert advice online, you may want to contact an attorney and HR professional. If you don't have them on staff, consult with local firms. 

Vaccinate the Natural State is a statewide initiative to encourage as many Arkansans to get the COVID-19 vaccine as possible. They have business-specific resources and tools available to owners and management!



Surviving and Thriving:

When COVID-19 hit, small businesses across North America were forced to close their doors and reinvent the way they do business. For many, the toughest leadership test is now looming...how to bring a business back!

To rapidly recover revenue, adopt a "start-up" mindset, digitize everything possible, and identify and prioritize revenue opportunities. Some will need to rebuild operations and possibly reimagine the office!

Here are some thoughts to consider:

  • Marketing in the new normal will be critical! Make sure customers know you are open and adjust your messaging so you stand out. 
  • Remote work is here to stay! Gaining ground pre-pandemic, study's now show that over half of employees that shifted to remote work, want to stay remote.
    • Don't fret - remote work has many benefits! Employees tend to be happier and more productive. Costs are generally less.
    • There are concerns to address like cybersecurity and management logistics. Learning to manage a remote workforce will be key to thriving in the post-pandemic era! (More on this topic below.)
  • Tax time will look different this year! If you don't usually, this may be the year to enroll the help of a CPA to review all of your deductions and options with PPP and more. 
  • Outbreaks will happen! Be prepared for outbreaks within your business, as well as large scale outbreaks. As we've all learned this year, nothing is certain!
  • Fears are easing with some being vaccinated. But for some, the fear is still real, - and for certain groups, the danger is too. Be sensitive to messaging and practices that will help customers and employees feel safe, but also welcomed. 



Stop the Spread: General Safety Tips

The mask mandate has officially ended for the state of Arkansas, but officials are still recommending mask use in most cases. Individual businesses and venues can still require mask usage in their facilities!

Most of us will need to continue to revisit and adapt plans to eliminate unnecessary contact between employees and patrons. No matter your type of business, you'll want to enact certain policies to keep yourself, your family, your clients, and your employees safe. 

  • When possible, interact with others from a safe distance of six feet. 
  • Reduce general occupancy and gatherings to allow for room to spread out.
  • Ask people to wait outside in the event of long lines or tight spaces. 
  • Continue to offer as many services as you can virtually or via pick-up/drive-through/delivery.
  • Allow employees that can work from home to do so. 
  • Maintain touchless and virtual options so that customers that have to quarantine or would like to remain sheltered in place, can still use your services safely. 
  • Monitor the use of "self-service" tools so you can sanitize properly - think salt and pepper shakers, napkin dispensers, pens, community devices, etc. 
  • Have sanitizing wipes, sprays, gels, etc. readily available.
  • Start a regular regimen of sanitizing door entrances, handles, light switches, etc.
  • Check out OSHA's website and sign up for their newsletter! They are sharing daily tips to protect your workplace. 

Visit Arkansasready.com for industry-specific Guidelines concerning your type of business.



Building and maintaining trust: Customers and Employees


Some customers will be hesitant to return to establishments and utilize services, while others will not. There are several ways that you can build and maintain trust in your community during and post-pandemic. Examples include:

  • Publicize your self-service, virtual, or pick-up options prominently on your website and frequently on social media.
  • Publicize the measures you're taking to sanitize your facility and keep others safe.
  • Stay strong digtitally - emails, social media, conference calls, and digital messages are critical to monitor and advertise now and in the future.
  • Post photos of customers in the store, of your new safe practices, and of you and your staff operating the business to remind people you are open.
  • Make posts showing your staff conducting phone or video conferences.
  • Use digital and physical tools and advertising mediums to let the public know you're open and ready for business! 

It's also important to remember that employees may have a hard time returning to work because of their "new normal". Some may have health conditions that will make them fear the return to work. Frequent quarantine periods will be likely now that school has resumed. Here's how you can help:

  • If remote work is an option for some, keep it as an option for safety and peace of mind.
  • Keep an open mind towards scheduling and accommodations. Daily schedules have radically changed. While some may have more time to devote to work, some may have less. Some may have to adapt their schedule to meet the needs of virtual schooling, sick family members, etc.
  • Make sure your employees are comfortable enough to wear a mask all day. Some with chronic headaches, asthma, and COPD, and other disorders have reported negative side effects from mask protection. 
  • Tell sick employees to STAY HOME.
  • Provide employees with safeguards if they request - PPE, sanitizing stations, social distancing, etc. 
  • Even now, it may be a good idea to keep community workspaces closed or limited in capacity.
  • Follow new FMLA guidelines for those who may contract COVID-19. 
  • Offer support and an open ear for your employee's concerns! 


Working Virtually:


While most have returned to full operations out of necessity, some are still offering many services remotely. In fact, it appears remote work is here to stay post-pandemic! Forbes estimates that a whopping 70% of the workforce will be fully remote by 2025. The Society for Human Resource Management says that half of all workers who went remote wish to remain remote permanently

No one can know for sure what the future holds, but it's safe to say that employers and employees are enjoying the cost and time savings benefits of remote work. Also, many areas are experiencing a second wave and may need to continue remote work for some time. 

Much of the workforce these days are mobile and or/home-based, so there is no need to feel guilty if you do not feel you can make a full return to the office now or in the future! There are MANY resources available so that you can work - and stay connected - comfortably, efficiently, and safely from your home office. 

Communication and Collaboration Tools:



Word Processing, Presentations, Spreadsheets:

  • G-Suite by Google (Free with paid options)
  • If you haven't already, consider moving your Microsoft subscription to a cloud-based subscription. This will make Office, Excel, Powerpoint, and more available on more of your devices. 

Cybersecurity:

  • Cybersecurity will be a top concern while working from home. Check out BBB's tips here.
  • Implement cybersecurity protocols and policies for your remote employees and yourself. 
  • Install anti-virus software (remember, a free version is better than no version!)
  • Watch part 1 of BBB's Virtual Cybersecurity Summit - Edafio Technology Partners review staying cyber secure while working from home. 

Employee Monitoring: 

Some types of businesses, and employees, require more oversight than others. Here is a list of ten employee monitoring tools employers can use to gauge the productivity of their workforce. 

Also, certain phone systems and your CRM may have tools to monitor work being done. 
If needed, consult with a local IT company to help you implement your business or orient your employees' workspaces to be optimized for home use. You can also consult a local cybersecurity firm to help you with safety and employee training. Check out BBB's Cybersecurity resources for assistance!


Hiring:


Due to the waning nature of reopening and closing phases, hiring has become a real sport! Here a few resources to help you regain, maintain, or build your workforce during this time:

  • BBB has partnered with Indeed to offer a $2000 sponsored job ad credit to those who create a new account. Learn more at our partner website and please feel free to reach out to our office with questions.
  •  Reach out to the Department of Workforce Services in your area! They may be able to provide your information to the job seekers.
  • Utilize employment agencies and labor finders. They can be a great resource, especially during times like these! Ask BBB to find agencies in your area. 
  • Finally, there’s the Central Arkansas Workforce Development Area. They help to connect job seekers with employers! If not in the Central area, reach out to similar non-profits and "Labor Finder" organizations in your area for assistance!

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