How to Prepare for a Global Pandemic (and beyond)
Business owners spend countless hours preparing for every possible scenario. They hire and train people, select store sites, carefully choose products and set prices, and continually take the temperature of the market.
Now they’re scanning shopper’s foreheads before letting them in the door.
“Preparation” has taken on new meaning during the coronavirus crisis, but the lessons we’re learning can help independent business owners long after forced closures and social distancing have ended.
Besides the obvious measures of stockpiling huge reserves of cash and pallets of toilet paper, here’s a checklist to prepare for a global pandemic and other more-likely crises such as natural disasters, fire, crime, or catastrophe in your company:
- Is your operating system cloud-based so you have instant, secure, remote access to customer, staff, and financial data?
- Do you have the ability to transfer your main company telephone number to a line that can be answered remotely?
- Can you access your work email remotely on a laptop or smartphone?
- How long would it take you to switch to telecommuting?
- Are your systems and servers backed up off-site?
- Do you have the ability to make real time changes to your website? (You do have a website, don’t you?)
- Are there contact forms on your website, do they work, and are they directed to the right people?
- Do you have the ability to instantly update your correct hours and updated contact info on your website as well as across more than 65 local search engines?
- TIP: Check out GeoMarketing from Grey Suit Retail, a division of The Lively Merchant.
- Do you have online chat turned on?
- Can you instantly and directly communicate with customers?
- Do you have an email list?
- Do you have a cloud-based email marketing system?
- TIP: Check out Mail Chimp or Emma Email Marketing.
- Do you have a social media following to communicate urgent announcements?
- Do you have multiple social media admins monitoring online messages?
- Do you have the ability to quickly generate online graphics and printed signs to convey urgent messages?
- TIP: Check out free online graphic design platforms like Canva or PicMonkey.
- Do you have the equipment, expertise, and means to distribute a video announcement to your staff and customers? This can be as simple as a smart phone video or a complex as a presentation with professional sound, multiple cameras, and graphics.
- Do you have an online store to take over if brick-and-mortar locations become inaccessible?
- Do you have a robust online product catalog?
- Can you take orders that can be drop shipped from the manufacturer or held for future delivery?
- Do you have online chat to answer customer questions about products, prices, or policies?
Staff & Support
- Do you have personal contact information for everyone on your staff so you can reach them at home after business hours?
- Do you have all property and liability insurance policies and health insurance policy information accessible offsite?
- Could you reach your attorney, banker, or accountant?
“where you are today matters for who you’ll be tomorrow”
During the COVID-19 crisis, we have consulted with companies large and small, both physical product sellers and service providers, from manufacturers to charitable organizations. Each organization has a unique level of preparedness and “pandemic personality”.
Those who had a even a modicum of systems already in place have been able to rapidly shift gears and move forward with hope.
Others were wildly unprepared to serve their staff or their customers outside of comfortable “business as usual” parameters; these responded with fear.
If we can help, please contact us.
Inspiration from one of America’s most respected home retailers, Magnolia Market. Photo credit: Cuter Todor