The Bank of England has warned that the UK is heading for the sharpest recession in recorded history and that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means that the UK economy will likely shrink by around 14% this year.
Obviously this isn’t great news for business owners around the country that are hopeful of seeing their venture blossom once again after the lockdown period comes to an end. For starters, Covid-19 has dramatically lowered the number of employed people and people earning an income in Britain. With that said, if people have less money all together, they ultimately have less money to spend in order to support businesses that are managing to survive.
Business life after lockdown
That is a major issue for companies around across the United Kingdom who are relying on a huge sales boost upon their return to everyday business. Just simply re-opening may not be enough to crack the case for many businesses and it won’t be fully restoring normality just because people are allowed to leave their homes once again. This will take a good deal of thinking outside of the box and instilling a new working mentality to get your business back to its earlier heights.
The challenges will have been particularly hard-hitting for small businesses, as unlike the giant corporations, they don’t have a huge resource of funds to fall back on while they are no longer earning a decent level of cashflow. This is why we will witness many small and independent business unfortunately having to close down.
What can you do to make your return a positive one?
For the return of previously interrupted businesses, deciding on a strategy and how to make the biggest possible impact on your return to activeness is crucial. The importance of getting this right cannot be overstated and will likely take something similar to the extent of an entirely new business plan. Though, this is no easy task, but then again you likely decided to set up your own business in the first place with the challenges of it at the forefront of your mind.
Here is our list of top tips on making your business’ return a successful one:
(You should note that not all of these points will be valid to your business as it is largely dependant on what sort of company your run)
- Have a sale
By having a sale, you are enticing customers back in to your shop with the fact that the goods they’ve been missing out on are now back and cheaper than ever before. Not only will this be beneficial to your customers, it’ll also help you to get rid of any stock you’ve had to keep for an extended period of time because of the whole lockdown situation in the UK.
Running a discount promotion will be something many businesses likely do once they’re allowed to officially reopen once again, meaning that you’re going to want to do this to make sure you’re competitive anyway. Don’t be left behind once your retail business can become active once again, keep up with others and let the customer know you’re back with a bang by having a sale.
- Let the public know you’re open again
It might be fantastic news for you to find out you’re allowed to open the doors to your business again after multiple months away. Besides, many business owners in the UK are starting to really struggle, understandably after not being able to acquire their usual source of funds for so many weeks, which would normally develop through sales from customers and clients. Though, for you to really make an impactful comeback to business, members of public will need to be aware of your return.
There are so many methods of letting people know you’re going to be back these days, thanks to the internet and other technological advancements, but you’ll need more than a few social media posts to effectively get the word out about your return. Think about it like a marketing project for your company. You’re effectively a new business with a clean slate, so treat the situation as such and go back to how you pushed your company onto your audience when you first opened. If it was effective you can simply rinse and repeat this process, and if you had more of a bumpy start to your journey you can always change up your marketing strategy.
Shoppers have generally begun to be more aware of the availability of products and the trustworthiness of companies since the start of lockdown, so take this into consideration when trying to effectively communicate with them from this point forward.
E Consultancy state that, “When justifying their choices, sixty-four percent of shoppers cited ‘perceived availability’ of a product as an important factor, with 72% stating that they are now more aware of product availability than they were before the outbreak. A further 40% noted the trustworthiness of a brand as the biggest factor, ranking it about the same as the price of a product (39%) when it comes to influence on their purchase behaviour”.
- Put safety measure into place
It’s fair to say that people won’t want to attend your business if they don’t feel safe, even more so now with everything that has happened involving the Covid-19 pandemic. To counter against the fear that people have of leaving their homes and visiting your place of work, you should take the correct safety precautions and display to your customers that they’re in a safe environment while present at your business location.
To ensure that you’ve created a safe environment inside your returning business for both your customers and members of staff, follow the government guidelines and simply use common sense. Place signs around your building that remind people to adhere to the social distancing guidelines and stay at least 2 metres apart at all times, offer hand sanitiser upon entry if possible, and allow a certain number of individuals into your building at once.
You could provide your own workers with face masks if they’re going to be around the public whilst working, and even place plastic shields at till points in order to stop the spread of Coronavirus that way.
- Work from home where possible
You may find it strange to find this on our list, but the truth is your business can still make a comeback while you’re remaining safe at home. Push the online portion on your business with more force and give people access to different discounts via your website rather than any physical shop you may run. This will also help to bring back repeat customers to the online side of your company and allow it to grow from there.
Customer retention will be a massive thing for businesses of all shapes and sizes to strive for in the future, as everyone will be competing even harder than before the lockdown for more funding sources. So, you should start now and give yourself a head start over your direct competitors. Convey your brand over to your audience in a new way, and let them know that you wish to keep people safer by having a stronger presence online than you may have done previously.
If you’re the owner of a business that has previously utilised office spaces, you may have noticed that your company can still effectively achieve its goals while people are working from home. If so, why not consider ditching the offices you currently pay rent for and save yourself a lot of extra funding that way, this will allow you to use that funding to boost your company in new and different ways than before, or leave you with more cash in general, which is a win-win scenario.
Risk assessment and safety measures
Are you planning on having your business make a return during the UK lockdown? There are some safety precautions and risk assessments you must complete before doing so.
Here are some example measures to take, that may fit your place of work:
- Hand washing
Have hand washing facilities with soap and water in place for the employees of your business to use whenever they wish. Make it a requirement after entering and before leaving the premises of the workplace. You must ensure that stringent hand washing is taking place within your business, by all whom enter it.
To ensure that hands are also dried correctly after washing, it is your responsibility to once again provide the required equipment. Disposable paper towels will need to be provided, with enough that you can guarantee you won’t run out mid-way through a working day.
- Cleaning and disinfecting
The cleaning routine will be in need of a complete overhaul. There is almost no way you’ve been keeping up to the standards that will be required now, as there was nothing as serious as Coronavirus a mere three months ago, that was so easily spreadable. This contagious disease can spread quickly and live on different surfaces for extended periods of time, so you’ll to disinfect any spaces that people have been working at throughout each day.
Every few hours you’ll need to go round your office (or whatever setting your workplace is located in) and thoroughly disinfect working areas. All surfaces touched by people or spaces that occupy people throughout the day will need to be kept exceptionally clean, as much as possible.
- Social distancing
You will need to enforce social distancing and ensure that all employees, as well as yourself as the business owner, are following the government guidelines. You will need to comply with the 2 metre distancing rule that keeps people from different households apart at all times. This is one of the most effective ways to combat the virus, and should not be lost within the workplace.
You should utilise technology to comply with these rulings also, for instance, conference calls should be put into practice, rather than physical face-to-face meetings. Social distancing should also be adhered to during lunch breaks, in canteen areas, as well as smoking areas.
- Symptoms of Covid-19
If anyone within your place of work begins to display symptoms of the Coronavirus, such as developing a cough or a high temperature, they need to be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home government guidance. If you believe you have had someone with Covid-19 inside of your workplace, you’ll need to identify the people that have been in contact with them at work, and request that they each seek medical advice, and testing where possible.
Try not to be in constant fear of the virus while at work, but remain aware of it and the dangers that surround it. Make it clear to all members of staff that this is being treated with a total level of seriousness and severity; do not tolerate a lapse of rule following in this situation.
Stay safe and keep your business strong
The important thing is to consider your health and the health of others, as we each continue to battle against the Coronavirus outbreak. Any decisions you make about your business, no matter how desperate a time it may seem, should be made with the upmost concern for your health and well-being. Abide by the lockdown measures until instructed otherwise and rest assured that when your business can make its return to normality, there’ll be plenty of customers waiting to welcome you with open arms.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to keep us updated closely to any changes made to the lockdown procedure and when people can once again make the return to work. Until then, follow the guidelines and keep safe
No signs of an end to lockdown
It seems as though the lockdown will be continuing on into our foreseeable futures, which is unfortunate news for many businesses across the UK. Business owners do not want to find themselves with even more hardships to face up to this year and into the early stages of 2021, though that may be exactly what they have to do.
A three tier system has been implemented in the UK, meaning different areas can have different lockdown rules and regulations set to them. This will potentially give different businesses different expectations in regards to how they will operate, both now and in the future, as well as dividing up businesses that have a chance at remaining successful or not.
What we mean by this is that if you’re the owner of a business that’s located in a tier 1 area, you can pretty much operate as you have been doing for the last few months, whereas if your venture is located in a tier 2 or 3 area, you may have temporarily close down. In tier 2 and 3 areas, customers may decide that visiting your business isn’t worth the health risk also, which we wouldn’t be able to blame them for, though it will obviously prove to be very costly to your business.
As this year draws closer to its closing stages, many business owners will be looking towards the festive season and hoping they’re able to operate somewhat normally around that period of time. Christmas marks the time of sales going up, customers spending more in short bursts and businesses getting the boost they need to survive the early months of the following year. Though, could 2020 be very different in that aspect? It is likely that we’ll still have many lockdown rules and guidelines to follow around Christmas time, and therefore sales probably won’t get the increase we’re used to them getting.
Sure, online businesses will likely still get a huge boost as more people than ever look to buy gifts over the internet, but what about physical retailers and the like? If they cannot open their doors around December 25th, or if people are still not comfortable with travelling out to shopping malls and high streets by then, they could find themselves in serious danger.
It is also worth noting that people will typically have less spare cash to spend this Christmas, as many of us have lost jobs, been made redundant or had our employers close down due to the ongoing effects of Covid-19. This ultimately means most customers and consumers will very likely be spending less this year than they normally would, so the wait for businesses to receive a huge financial boost will probably continue on. Relying on government grants and other forms of financial aid will be a growing trend, long into 2021.
Will the financial aid we’re talking about be there to support everyone that needs it? Almost certainly not, but we do heavily advise you to take any business grants you have access to, as you won’t need to pay these back and they may just help in saving your company, not matter how large or how small they seem.