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!
The Business Interruption Grant provides relief funds to certain businesses affected by government-mandated COVID-19 closures and restrictions(Service and Hospitality Industries). Learn more about eligibility and how to apply at ArkansasReady.com.
Finally, the Grow With Google Small Business Fund is working with local Community Development Financial Institutions to provide low-interest loans to small businesses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. You can find a local CDFI here.
Most of us have questions about Paycheck Protection Program "PPP" and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans. 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 playlist on Youtube for more help and related videos.
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 in an environment where a vaccine has yet to be found.
To rapidly recover revenue, we will need to have a "start-up" mindset, digitize everything we can, and identify and prioritize revenue opportunities. Some will need to rebuild operations and possibly reimagine the office!
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. Remote work has many benefits! Employees tend to be happier and more productive. Plus, the cost to the environment and company budgets are generally lessened. But there are also downsides to remote work 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! Accounting and budgets are all over the place! Check out these tips from Accounting Today and if you haven't already, enroll a CPA to help with this year's finances! Between Paycheck Protection, forgiveness, and shifting costs, supply chains, and budgets, help may be needed!
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 at an all-time high (for some)! Be sensitive to messaging and practices that will help customers and employees feel safe, but also welcomed.
Stop the Spread: General Safety Tips
As we continue to take steps to stop the spread of COVID-19, and now enter flu season, be sure to download and print the required signage for entrances and exits (if you haven't already). You can also download "Masks Required" Signage in English and Spanish. (Both notices are mandated by Executive Order from Governor Asa Hutchinson during this time.)
We'll still need to continuously revisit and adapt our 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.
If possible, remove "self-service" tools - think salt and pepper shakers, napkin dispensers, pens, community devices, etc. Control the use of these so you can sanitize properly.
Have sanitizing wipes, sprays, gels, etc. readily available and in multiple positions throughout your establishment.
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 our establishments and use our services, while others will not. There are several ways that we can build and maintain trust in our community throughout this trying time. Examples include:
Publicize your self-service, virtual, or pick-up options prominently on your website and frequently on social media for those who are hesitant.
Publicize the measures you're taking to sanitize your facility and keep others safe.
Now is not the time to slack on your digital marketing - emails, social media, conference calls, and digital messages are critical to monitor AND advertise during this time.
Share pictures or videos of your employees in their personal protective gear.
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
OR 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 uarantine 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 purposes.
Keep an open mind towards scheduling and accommodations. Daily schedules have radically changed. While some may have more time to be at 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.
This is NOT the time to make sick employees come to work (obviously).
Provide employees with as many safeguards as possible - PPE, sanitizing stations, social distancing, etc.
Post safety rules in all areas and if possible and close community workspaces.
Offer support and an open ear for your employee's concerns!
Create a "whistleblower" inbox (or something similar) where employees can report frequent violations or health concerns without fear of retaliation.
You may not feel comfortable returning to "full operation" yet or you may be functioning just fine from the comfort of your home! Many will not be able to return to a full-time or normal schedule at this 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.
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!