The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has not only been detrimental to our health and safety, but it has also indirectly attacked businesses and the economy. While about 46% of newly hired employees typically remain at the same company after a year, the pandemic times have presented a sudden rise in unemployment. When states called for quarantine measures to take place, many businesses were required to close their doors to prevent the congregation of people. As a result, several small, local, and isolated businesses have suffered.
If services were possible and the business was capable, some aspects of the business moved to a virtual format. Places such as restaurants got creative and adapted their menus to accommodate take-out orders. The pandemic has pointed out the need for flexibility in our economy and our world for everything and everyone to stay afloat. While survival may a company’s’ first priority in times like these, this is also a time to reflect on the methods of running your business. While business is slow, take time to evaluate your systems in place and work on larger projects. If you major plans to revamp your system or remodel your business, this is a good time for researching contractors that can help accomplish those tasks. Now is the time to plan for the future as the world starts to open back up.
Plan Now for Later
Though your business may be facing tragic losses, this is a time to step back and evaluate how the business is running. What are your strong points? What do you rely on? Who do you rely on? Where are the holes in the process? Can you be sustainable by becoming more independent from suppliers? Business may be slow, but the time is still valuable and useful for creating a plan to navigate the post-pandemic world.
A plan guides you and outlines what steps need to be taken now in order to accomplish the goals of tomorrow. Short term goals help organize the immediate future, but looking further ahead in time is important during a pandemic. A long term plan outlines and may indicate new elements of your business that need updates in order to survive. During the planning process, the Harvard Business Review recommends considering your position, your perspective, and your preparedness.
- The position is where you stood before the pandemic, where you stand during it, and where you see yourself post-pandemic. It’s an arch where you learn from the past to prepare for a better future. Is your business considered essential? Could it become essential by shifting its focus? Will you be needed after the pandemic subsides or will technology have developed beyond what you can offer? Do you have several other businesses competing with you? Knowing where you stand will be the first step in how you begin planning and it will allow you to cater to whatever needs arise.
- Perspective is how the business relates to others in the world and within the business. Do your employees have a good morale with each other? How are they to your customers? What kind of name has your business made for itself already? This relates to how others perceive your business. Have you been able to shift some of your services to assist in the pandemic? Think about what your business can contribute now so people will recognize your name and support what you have to offer later.
- Preparedness is knowing your ability to execute whatever you have planned for your business. If this plan is focusing on boosting morale or incorporating larger projects during this time, think about what you need. Will you need your employees? Start researching contractors if you plan to remodel or expand your business. Do you have the funds to do so? This is an important step in your plan and must be acknowledged before you begin.
Construction and Remodeling Projects
Does your business need AC maintenance or a new garage door installation? Do you need to do some small tool repairs to smooth out your production process? Take advantage of this time, many stores selling tools and supplies you need are still considered essential.
- Deals: Business is slow for everyone. Companies offering renovation help and supplies are likely to offer a better deal just to gain some business. Rates on products may be lower with room to negotiate and a greater supply of inventory may be available to choose from. Make sure to compare rates at several places to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
- Timeline: The pandemic is ongoing with no set date for normalcy to return. This is an opportune time to start larger projects you would hesitate to do under normal circumstances. Perhaps you have put that remodel off for so long because you feared it would interfere with good business. Customers have already had to adjust to new changes and while some may be irritated, many others will be more understanding during this time. You will also have time to evaluate the changes you are making to ensure it is what you want. You won’t have to rush just to get it finished so business can resume as normal.
- Management: Business is slow allowing you the time to oversee every detail of the project. Distractions from your project will be less and you will be able to articulate exactly what you want, make careful decisions, communicate effectively with those working on the project, and control the outcome of what is taking place.
Researching Contractors for the Job
No matter the project, there are two options. You can either purchase your own construction equipment for sale, expanding your current toolbox, or you can start researching contractors at a commercial construction company to assist you in your endeavors. It depends on your goal.
If you only have a few small tool repairs, it’s handy to purchase your own parts to fix it. Once you finish, you will have those tools on hand in case a future need arises. If your projects are extensive and start looming towards the need for bigger machinery such as cranes, loaders, demolition shear attachments or even forklift dealers it may be time for researching contractors with commercial construction companies. The companies will have everything you need and people to assist you, but there are a few things to keep in mind when you are researching contractors.
License, Liability, and Worker’s Comp Insurance: A main requirement when researching contractors is to look for credentials. A license tells you the contractor knows state requirements and their work is qualified according to those standards. This also becomes necessary if you ever resell your business. Liability and insurance are for the protection of your business. If someone gets injured on the property, they will be covered by the contractor’s insurance and your business will not be liable for the injury.
Experience and Reputation: When researching contractors, dig in to their backgrounds. What contractor comes up first in your search? Decide the pros and cons of each, but also ask around. If there are businesses nearby that have recently done work, ask who it was done by and how the experience was. Look for a contractor that has a resume of projects along with a solid reputation. Another thing to consider is the number of years they have been in business.
Turnaround Time and Pricing: Is your office moving and you want to build on your lot to expand your business? You want a company that will produce results on a timeline acceptable to you. If business is slow during the pandemic and materials may be delayed, a contractor should account for that in their estimates. Pricing should also be affordable, but be wary of estimates that seem overly cheap. It can be tempting to believe, but it could mean their quality of work is lacking or the materials they use are not as durable. Take time and shop around. Prices may be lower in general due to the pandemic.
Good Communication and Professionalism: As you are researching contractors, note their websites. Are they professional and easy to navigate? This is likely the first impression and as you know from running your own business, a website or even a sign outside can tell a lot about the quality of the contractor. When you call for more information, assess how easy they are to work with. Are they willing to hear your concerns? Are they willing to work with you and explain what they have to offer? Depending on what you are renovating, this could be a huge financial investment so ensure that you are comfortable with who you will work with.
Maintain Safety Measures During This Time
After developing a plan for your business, deciding on renovation projects, and researching contractors, make sure you are maintaining health and safety factors for you, your employees, and your customers. The Center for Disease Control updates their site regularly as more information is found out about the virus and offers extensive information about safety precautions for your business.
Check in with employees. Control the number of employees you need at a time and have an open conversation to discuss health concerns, risk factors, and any symptoms they might have. Sick employees should be comfortable about staying at home without fear of negative repercussions. Discuss concerns so you and your employees are on the same page. Be willing to create flexible schedules to accommodate needs and to help everyone feel comfortable about working during the pandemic. Open communication is one of the most important tools to protect everyone.
Clean often. Make it a routine part of the day to clean your business environment. Disinfect work surfaces and implement social distancing practices. If possible, move what you can to an online format to minimize face-to-face contact. Encourage employees to wash hands, social distance, and wear a face mask when in the presence of each other and customers. These are all precautions that will help keep your business safe.
Managing the Entire Estate During the Pandemic
In addition to improving your organization’s future, as morbid as it may sound, it is important to acknowledge all aspects of a pandemic. While you take the steps to move your business forward and cope with the unusual circumstances, contact your estate attorney and make sure all documents are updated. As the owner of a business, you want to make sure you have all your bases covered in case something happens to you. This will make passing on the roles to others easier.
Your will should be updated so everyone knows where assets are going. This allows you, rather than the state, to determine who your business will go to in the case of an unfortunate incident. Decide who will be your durable power of attorney for healthcare and speak with them about your wishes. Also, discuss finances and HIPPA authorization so those who may take over the business are aware of what money there is to continue and can retrieve medical records if needed. It may be tough to think about, but organizing all of this information will benefit those surrounding you and enable them to fulfill the wishes you have for your business.
Remain Positive in the Pandemic
Times are uncertain and the situation is constantly changing as new information is being discovered. Though times are hard, do your best to remain positive. Focus on what you can control of your business and work to accentuate those needs. First and foremost, evaluate where your business stands in the current market. From there, develop a plan. If you decide it’s time for a business remodel, take advantage of possible deals and spend time researching contractors that will best suit your needs. Remember reputation and communication are key elements to a healthy relationship.
While you work to figure out how the business will function in this time, maintain safety measures for yourself and your employees according to the CDC and other government agencies. As hard as it may be, update your estate documents, but above all remain optimistic and positive that things will pass and your business will return to a new state of normal.