We “reopened” our business after the pandemic shutdown, however, we have gone through a modified sequestered period this past fall and winter. How do you present a refreshed image and posture to an audience that is still questioning whether being out in public will be as it was in the pre-pandemic period?
In your re-opening planning, focus on the big questions. In particular, focus as soon as possible on looking at your cash flow, with several scenarios based on different re-opening dates.
Here are some big questions; write down the answers to these questions to help inform your re-opening plan:
What changes will there be in your business model? How do you do business? How do your customers interact with you? How can you change the way you do business in the future? Now is the time to get creative. You have been operating your business utilizing one model concept — customers come into your store, restaurant or nursery. How else can you serve your customer base?
Define the amount of physical interaction with customers — a little, moderate or fully engaged? This element will be essential in your pivot. What amount of personal interaction will your customers be willing to engage in when buying? Will they be willing to come into your restaurant, sit next to other diners (even at a 6-foot distance)? Will they be willing to stand in line waiting to check out by a checker or will self-checkout become the standard? You will only know by asking your customer base.
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The owners of Scargo Café in Dennis looked at three elements when refreshing their business, which they do annually: facilities, menu and staffing.
They shut down totally and removed everything down to the ladles and spoons and power washed, degreased and touched up, or just replaced, elements that have lost their functionality, especially in the kitchen.
Menu development is a continuous process, but they created specials that are more seasonally inspired for their reopening. And they took time during the pre-season launch to let the staff connect on a different level.
Being open seven days from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. takes its toll. Meeting individually away from the customer-facing activities gave everyone a chance to breathe and consider their roles going forward.
Good Friends Café in West Dennis recreated itself into a “beach house” with the same comfortable, friendly environment where everyone who frequents is a member of the Carr family, which owns the café. They focused on increasing functionality while maintaining the vibe of cozy comfort. And, word of mouth about the reimagining of this 13-year-old café is driving both existing and new diners to their door.
Staffing, Training / Retraining
What level of staffing will you need depending on your re-opening date — near term, intermediate-term, long term? Will staff be available? Will they be put to work in other capacities by cross-training? Have them brainstorm what the future might look like. Be Human –— and humane — your loyalty now will impact your future. As an owner, what will you have to do differently? This may take training or retraining. What changes will you be required to adopt and how will you prepare to work in the new paradigm?
Explain your decision process where you can.
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Every business owner knows that communication is the foundation of all effective, successful businesses.. Who should you communicate with? Your creditors, lenders, landlord, utilities, insurance agent, suppliers, equipment lessors and marketing and advertising firms. And communicate with your current customers — and potential customers — to find out what their expectations are. Most importantly, communicate with employees.
What is your message to each of the groups above?
How will you communicate your message? Social media, traditional media, person-to-person via written communications, person-to-person via digital communications.
Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, Certified Mentor and Mentors of SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands. For mentoring assistance in preparing for the next stage, contact them at: www.capecod.score.org, firstname.lastname@example.org or call us: 508/775-4884. They can reach out and connect with you via phone, email or video.
This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Cape Cod: How to refresh a business before reopening for the season