COVID-19 Recommendations For Your Business Survival

We were recently invited to attend a professional event as guest speakers. At first we thought we would attend via video conferencing. We then discovered that the event organizers expected us to physically visit their office to participate in the event. This raised serious concerns for us, especially since Trevor was ill with COVID-19 over the Summer.  We sent an email to the event organizers expressing concerns and asking a series of questions about their safety protocols.

As soon as we hit the “SEND” button, we realized they could have been more proactive in providing information to us FIRST about the safety protocols. Thus was inspired the following advice to our business owners. We hope you will find this useful. We welcome comments about this advice.

DO MORE FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS WITH YOUR COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS AND MESSAGING

The time is right for you to help your customers with concerns about visiting your business. Step up your safety protocols and your message about those protocols. Many more Americans are aligned with recommended safety guidelines including mask-wearing and social distancing. As a business trying to survive through this pandemic, get the word out to more people that you understand their concerns.

With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis your customers have concerns about meetings outside of their home or office. Be proactive in your understanding of their concerns. Apart from any local, State or Federally mandated safety protocols, determine how you can add to those fundamentals. If you’re not required to provide free masks, do it anyway. If you’re required to have a certain size of plexiglass divider, install larger dividers. If you’re required to have a specified number of hand sanitizer stations, add more.

You can’t really go “over the top” during this pandemic; the more you do to acknowledge the concerns of your customers about their own safety and that of your employees, the better the likelihood of increasing your customer attendance.

Once you’ve done that, then you need to “go tell it on the mountain” and broadcast the level of protections you’ve implemented.

Get the word out through every channel possible. Your messaging could include a phrase like this: “We want to provide you with assurances of safety protocols before you visit our store/restaurant/office. We want you to feel safe during these uncertain times.”

With messaging like this, you are both acknowledging the “pain points” that many people are feeling and you are increasing the numbers of customers likely to visit. It’s not enough to attract customers who already feel more comfortable going out and about during the pandemic with less anxiety; you need to pry the other, more anxious customers out of their protective environments.  Your message and your protocols will accomplish that goal.

Take a proactive stance that can only raise your customer’s confidence in your attempts to keep them safe. We have some suggestions for advance messaging before a customer visits your office/store/restaurant:

  1. Consider providing a list of the safety protocols you’ve implemented. On the list, note which ones are government recommended and which ones you’ve added for the extra level of caution.
  2. The next suggestion is a really difficult concept because you are acknowledging the customers’ concerns in a way that many businesses fail to do. Essentially, you’re going to remove some of the burden of safety precautions from the customer.

While it may seem that the following questionnaire might frighten away people, we believe the opposite to be true: you will actually attract more customers.

Understand that the vast majority of Americans are already worried about being infected with the COVID-19 virus. Ignoring that concern, assuming that everyone is taking precautions into their own hands or trusting a business with only minimal safety protocols is a fatal mistake for a business trying to survive the pandemic.

Become a “partner” with your customers by acknowledging their worries. Create a dialogue to demonstrate your intense interest in their safety and that of your employees.

We recommend that you include in your messaging these additional information points about your focus on the safety of your customers and employees:

  • Describe how many other people will be in attendance on the day of the event/meeting/reservation, including before and during your customer’s visit.
  • Provide detailed descriptions of the protocols in place currently at your business.
  • Provide a diagram of the business space demonstrating the measurements in relation to your customer’s ability to maintain social distancing. Note the plexiglass and hand sanitizer locations on the diagram.
  • We recommend you send a questionnaire to customers either before they attend a meeting at your office or visit your store/restaurant. Make this questionnaire part of your safety protocols in advance of the customer’s visit.

We know that many businesses are providing a short form of this questionnaire only at the moment of entry. In our opinion, while this is compliant with recommended guidelines, it doesn’t do enough to soothe the worries of many more people. And you want to attract as many customers as possible to survive this pandemic.

We’ve set up a minimal questionnaire. You’re welcome to copy this and use it along with your local, State or Federally-mandated questionnaires:

Please REPLY to this email with your answers to the following questions so that we can assure your safety of you and the safety of our other customers:

  • What is your personal opinion on mask-wearing requirements? 
  • Do you wear masks constantly, occasionally, rarely, or never?
  • Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 or been in proximity recently with someone diagnosed with the virus?
  • Have you attended a social or professional event with more than six people in the last 30 days?

We recommend you provide this questionnaire, along with the list of safety protocols at the moment a customer confirms attendance at a meeting or even when they make a reservation at your restaurant. We know that many business owners may be fearful that such communications may actually scare customers away. Frankly, we cannot imagine how your interest in clear communications and a dedication to customer/employee safety can be more frightening than the actual COVID-19 virus!

Remember that you want to attract the customers who are taking extreme precautions. They may even be the customers reluctant to venture out of their homes.

Wishing you the best during these difficult times! Stay safe, stay well.

 

Small Business Surviving COVID

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Some Lenders are beginning to open their doors, and their coffers, to businesses in need of working capital. However, the COVID-19 impact on lending guidelines has been brutal.

Lenders’ guidelines for these types of loans are typically tighter than pre-COVID, and every Lender requires a business applicant to provide a COVID Impact Statement.

Underwriters are taking a close look at how businesses plan to survive the continuing pandemic, especially diligent on management experience, cash reserves, equity, and business planning for pandemic-response.

Today, let’s look at some industries and businesses we expect to thrive and survive the COVID-19 crisis.

Logistics.  The pandemic panic in March and April exposed the weaknesses in supply chains, especially for groceries.  But the resiliency of the industry became quickly apparent with the exponential growth in demand for home delivery of goods from online shopping excursions as so many people found themselves locked-down at home.

Warehouses, sorting equipment, storage accessories, forklifts, robots, long haul trucks and delivery vehicles all have multiple sources of financing available to maintain and grow during the pandemic.

Professional Writers. Yes, writing for business, whether it’s email newsletters, website content, or White Papers, writers can thrive during COVID-19, especially with the trend towards remote working.

The downside to being a professional writer during this time is the influx of amateurs hustling for a work-at-home gig overwhelming the ranks of people you’re competing against.  If you’re a professional writer with Accounts Receivable from reputable business clients, there’s financing available to you to help you grow your business.  And, if you haven’t already applied, the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is still available, even if you’re Self-Employed and you file a Schedule C as a Sole Proprietor.

Manufacturing.  Manufacturers can thrive during COVID-19 with three fundamentals in place:

  • Pivot-Planning
  • COVID safety protocols for employees
  • Supply surety

We know of one manufacturer who promptly converted his business to a COVID pandemic perspective by manufacturing components of PPE for health care frontline workers, notably plastic face shields.  He later enhanced his planning to create the decals for grocery stores that direct customers with one-way arrows and six foot social distancing location markers.

A manufacturing firm that can demonstrate its resiliency during the crisis, its ability to protect workers, and the confidence in obtaining necessary supplies for manufacturing processes is sure to find Lenders willing to provide financing, including for Accounts Receivable, Business Lines Of Credit, and Equipment financing.

Online-Motion.  We created this category at Aurora Consulting to define any kind of business demonstrating incredible pandemic-related-resiliency by either moving its business online where it didn’t exist before, or bolstering an existing online presence.  70% of Small Businesses have NO or minimal online presence.

The COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates the need for your business to move online, to create product/service opportunities for consumers to engage with you remotely, and to integrate product deliveries with successful delivery systems.  The Small Business demonstrating sincere “Online-Motion” will find Lenders willing to provide financing providing a recently revised business plan demonstrates the strategies for success to survive.  Our firm Bridge Street Business Plans assists Small Businesses with this vital aspect.

Key Points of Financing Your “COVID-SURVIVING” Small Business:

  1. Management experience: substantial heft with more than three years’ experience.
  2. Equity: Whether it’s cash liquidity, real estate collateral, or other convertible equity, expect a Lender to want at least 30% equity.
  3. Credit. High credit scores, in excess of 700 for principals of the business.
  4. Cash Flow. Demonstrate how your business is cashflow positive during and through the pandemic.
  5. ROCK SOLID Pandemic Business Plan.  State the case for how your business is surviving now, how you will succeed through the crisis with a focus on strategies, profit centers, and an expanded vista that takes into account the new paradigm of limited customers in-store, remote work, online shopping, employee protections, supply-chain strength, and utilization of delivery options.

At Aurora Consulting we’re doing our part to help your Small Business survive COVID-19 with the following services:

  • Flat Fee Financing Consultation.  $750 gets your business a thorough review of your existing business plan, financial statements, and credit report.  We’ll then advise on the viability of finding Lender financing, whether that’s today, or in the future with our suggested strategies.
  • Bridge Street Business Plans.  We created Bridge Street Business Plans to assist our financing clients with a necessary component of a successful business credit application. We understand how to update your business plan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic “pivot.”
  • Innovative Financing Products.  We know the Lenders who will lend and we know how they will lend.
  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. These loans are still available and we’ve become experts in this loan process.

Email us anytime to find out more about what financing products can help you become resilient to thrive beyond COVID.