• COVID-19 Business Resources

  • Best Practices for Preparing for Mandated COVID-19 Business Restrictions and Interruptions
    Adapt, Pivot, Embrace the Change - Mike Bristol, Uplync Communications

    We asked our members to tell us their recommendations for preparing for and surviving another round of COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns.
    We have compiled these best practices into three categories:

     

    Need a local vendor to guide your plan or provide a solution?  Start your search here.


  • Choose the category where you need the most help or review them all.  To get started simply click the "+" sign next to the category name to expand that section. When you're done, click the "-" sign and then move to the next section.

  • Be Prepared  Be Prepared

     Topics in this category:  Cash | Business Expenses eCommerce | Aid | Meetings | Protect Greater Lafayette 

    Make Cash a Priority
    Increase your cash reserves however possible. Look at your margins—can they be better? Listed below, are some areas to look at to help you increase your profit margins.

    1. Reduce costs of goods.
      • Raw Materials
      • Shipping
      • Labor
      • Overhead
    2. Increase retail price on low margin items.
      • Avoid mark downs.
      • Increase average order with add-ons. Suggest complementary items and services to maximize sales.
    3. Apply for relief loans/grants.
    4. Treat cash reserves like a fixed expense.
      • Pay into it monthly just like paying other fixed costs.
      • Build reserves to 3 to 6 months operating expenses.
    5. Develop a plan to succeed.


    Reduce Business Expenses

    1. Reduce inventory to what is absolutely required.
      • Do not restock slow moving or low margin items during mandated shutdowns.
    2. Reduce utility expenses whenever possible (if you are not in your store reduce heating and cooling, temporarily suspend janitorial expenses, etc.).
    3. Audit expenses and cut unnecessary spending (i.e. low ROI advertising, slow moving products, training, time, labor, etc.).
    4. Defer loan, vendor, and utility payments when possible. Talk to the people you owe and explain your situation. See Be Transparent.


    eCommerce

    Customers should be able to purchase from your website. If your website does not have this capability, what do you need to offer online orders?

    1. Ensure customers can reliably, safely, and easily purchase online.
    2. Consider using an app for online purchases (ChowNow, Shopify,  Google, etc).


    Watch this training to learn more:

     

    Need help?  Contact one of these local vendors:  Hustlefish | SFP

    Apply for Aid Early
    It is likely that more money will be provided through loans and grants during the next mandated shutdown.

    1. SBA EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loans) There is still money available.
    2. PPP Loan (Paycheck Protection Program) This program is currently closed but could open back up during the next mandated shutdown.
    3. ISBDC (Indiana Small Business Development Center) This is a great resource for small businesses. They can also help you stay informed regarding SBA funding.
    4. Local Grants—Often the Cities, County, Greater Lafayette Commerce, or other entities provide grants to local businesses during times of need.


    Prepare for Meetings with Landowners, Bankers, Insurance, etc.

    1. Prepare your documents regarding projections, etc. See Be Transparent to learn more.  


    Protect Yourself, Family, Staff, and Customers

    Customers want to know you are thinking about their safety as well as the safety of you and your staff.

    1. Make sure you are following safety guidelines NOW.
    2. Take the Protect Greater Lafayette Pledge - Learn more about how you can protect your family, staff, and customers.

    Be Creative Be Creative

    Topics in this category:  Social Media | Curbside/Delivery | Partnering | Product Offerings | Community Support

    Social Media

    1. Focus on the platforms your customers use (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc).
    2. Build community. 
      • Do not flood social media with sales pitches and products. It is okay to post some, but mostly social media should be used to build community among your followers.
    3. Use Google the correct way.
      • Learn more here—Grow with Google
      • Provide links to website and social media.
      • List your contact information/store hours
      • Use the analytics tool
        • Use your Google data to improve the overall experiences of your customers.


    Need help?  Contact one of these local vendors:  Better Merchants | Hustlefish | SFP

    Curbside/Delivery Program

    1. Provide safety and convenience for your customers.
      • Make it easy - even if it means more work for you.
      • Make it fast - review your process and improve slower steps.
      • Make it right - double check orders to ensure your customers do not need to make additional trips.
      • Make it safe - take the necessary steps to follow CDC guidelines for businesses.
    2. Prepare to go out-of-your-way for customers.
      • The pandemic is bad for everyone. Take the time to make life a bit easier for your customers during the shutdown.
    3. Decide whether you need a limited local delivery area or if you will offer curbside.
      • If you deliver you will want to limit your delivery area.
        • Everyone wants to deliver everywhere, but time constraints prevent a business from doing it. Take the time to map out your delivery area. A delivery person should be able to deliver four or five orders every hour. If you deliver too far away this number will drop and you could lose money or customers.
      • Provide local pickup for those out of your delivery area.
    4. Check with your insurance agent if you hire delivery drivers—be covered.
      • Consider bicycle delivery for short distances such as the downtown area.
      • Do background checks on drivers.
    5. Decide the shipping method for out-of-area deliveries—know your shipping costs.


    Partner with Other Businesses

    1. Stay Connected with local businesses, partners, and influencers.
      • Strong networks mean loyal customers and access to information and resources.
      • Engage with Greater Lafayette Commerce to stay informed and connected to other business owners. Take advantage of the Business Success Platform.
    2. Find businesses that partner well with your product or service (e.g. Flowers and Dining, Toys and Games, etc.).
      • Connect with other business owners and suggest collaborating and cross-promoting.
    3. Work with other businesses to safely cross-promote each other and provide novel experiences for shoppers.
      • Be creative when working with others but be sure all parties benefit.


    Offer New or Different Products

    1. Not all foods travel well. Restaurants may want to consider a COVID-19 menu that maintains its integrity and taste for curbside or delivery.
    2. Your suppliers may offer products that you can sell that ordinarily you do not carry. Talk to them and see what you could offer during COVID-19 restrictions.


    Fill a Need in the Community
    Communities are hurting, people are suffering. Take the time to see if you can offer tools, services, products, or expertise that will help others in the community

    1. Provide meals
    2. Pick up groceries


    Support or volunteer at one of these
    non-profits

    Be Transparent Be Transparent

    Topics in this category:  Self/Family | Staff | Customers | Banks | Landlords

    Self/Family

    1. Be honest with yourself, this will be tough, embrace the change—build resilience.
    2. Talk to your family about the financial stress a COVID-19 interruption may cause.
    3. Talk about what can be done to keep everyone safe. Remember, keeping others safe will help you and your loved ones focus on what is important—each other
    4. Prepare to work from home.


    Staff

    1. Train staff to follow CDC Guidelines.
    2. Prepare for potential furloughs or working from home.
      • No one likes to lay people off. However, there are time when you must. Be honest with your staff. Let them know why you must let them go.
    3. Adapt to changing roles and responsibilities.
      • You and your staff will have to learn to adapt to a new way of doing business. Make sure everyone is informed and trained in the new processes.
    4. Be supportive—they need you.
      • Your staff is suffering from pandemic stress and anxiety, just like you. They may fear losing their jobs, getting sick, or losing loved ones. Be supportive to their needs and provide resources and information to help them cope.


    Customers

    1. Explain the changes you are making and how you will serve them.
      • Help them understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.
    2. Reinforce your commitment to keeping them safe and supplied with what they need.


    Banks 

    1. Plan for how you intend to do business during the mandated shutdowns.
      • How is your business plan/model changing to adapt?
      • How will you keep current customers?
      • How will you gain new ones?
      • Show them your creative ideas.
    2. Review how a COVID-19 interruption will affect your business.
      • How do your projections look?
      • Where are your shortfalls?
      • Will your business survive?
        • What must be done to ensure it?
        • What will you do if it does not?
          • Even if your business must close it is possible to start again after the pandemic. The ISBDC can help talk you through the process.
      • How will you return to business as normal?
        • What changes are permanent?
          • What have you learned from the pandemic?
    3. Work on a plan for loan payments.
      • What payments can be deferred?
        • Deferring even a month may mean the difference between closing or staying open.
      • What new loans can you take to help cash reserves?
      • Think about how you will pay these loans off when business returns to normal.


    Landlords

    1. Help landlords understand how the business will be impacted
      • How has your business model changed?
      • How will you make money?
      • What are you doing to positively impact it?
    2. Help landlords understand what that impact means for you and the landlord.
      • Will you be able to pay?
      • How do you intend to pay?
      • What deferments can be made?
    3. Plan for how you intend to get back on track after the interruption.
      • What is the plan for the rest of the year?