Author: Clint Sporhase, Vice President, Business Banking
The COVID-19 quarantine is being loosened or lifted in a number of locations around the U.S., so some businesses are resuming at least some of their operations. But will they go back to running exactly the way they did pre-pandemic? Maybe not. What’s more likely is that businesses will return with a ‘new normal,’ bringing some of the practices implemented during quarantine into their operations moving forward. This situation has provided a unique opportunity to try out some new ways of doing things for several months and, perhaps, even for the long term. Here are a few ideas you may want to implement for your business:
Did you learn that, contrary to your past concerns, having employees work remotely (despite a few initial kinks) did not, in fact, result in significant loss of productivity or efficiency? There may even be an opportunity for you to save money when employees work from home (for example, you may save on utilities and expenses like coffee). But of course, this depends on what office equipment you may need to provide your employees in order to work from home efficiently.
Over the past few months, you may have recognized the appeal and ease of assembling a group meeting via video conferencing. Instead of the need for everyone to be physically in the same location, this technology makes face-to-face interactions possible from far and wide.
One of the biggest headaches of remote work is dealing with paperwork. Anything that must be physically signed, copied, stapled and handed to a person becomes a real issue without physical contact. If you take this as an opportunity to implement software to electronically handle everything from purchase orders, to employee time cards, to human resource reports, you will probably never go back to paper. By using software to help manage your day-to-day business processes, you will likely experience increased efficiency. Plus, it’s better for the environment and you’ll save money on paper!
Did you rise to the challenge of adapting your business model during the pandemic by implementing a new service like delivery? Now that you’re aware of how valuable a service like that is, have you considered continuing to provide it as an option, even though customers will now be allowed to once again shop in person at your establishment?
When you were unable to sell in person, did you shift your focus to online selling? Your success at that may indicate that you should continue building up that side of your sales pipeline. Even if your customers are allowed to go into stores, customers will appreciate the convenience of shopping on a website, perhaps even more so now.
It’s likely that your marketing message needed to be tweaked for relevance during quarantine. As you prepare to “normalize” your message again, be certain to include any important messages, like any new products you’re offering or how service, safety and convenience are part of your value proposition.
When things start to get back to normal, there may be some smart long-term policies to consider keeping in place, like:
No doubt your business has gone through some significant changes during the complicated ordeal of COVID-19. Congratulations on rising to the challenge and continuing to get the work done― changes, restrictions, pivots and all.
About the Author: Clint Sporhase leads FNBO’s efforts to serve small business owners. Clint has 25 years of sales, marketing and strategy experience.