So much has changed since the beginning of 2020. The way we socialize, how we learn, even the way that we operate our businesses, all have been changed by COVID-19. So, as we push forward, what does the new normal mean for our businesses and how can we set ourselves apart? There have been many business changes in the midst of COVID-19. As entrepreneurs, it is up to us to adapt and find new ways to flourish. In today’s blog, I want to address some of these changes and look at ways we can position our businesses to succeed.
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You know, one of the more popular fast-food restaurants, here in the south, is Chick-fil-a. Before COVID-19, they were already known for quality food, excellent customer service, and one of the most efficient drive-thru services that have ever existed. None of these things have changed for them as they’ve worked through the pandemic. However, they didn’t allow COVID-19 to set them back. Instead, they made the decision to accentuate what was already working.
Like many businesses around the world, Chick-fil-a had to assess their current model to make smart business changes in the midst of COVID-19. Rather than risking the safety of their customers and staff, they decided to discontinue their dine-in service. While they continue to serve millions of customers each day through their drive-thrus, they are exploring new ways to make dining in an exceptional experience for their customers when they decide to reopen their dining rooms.
I have seen several entrepreneurial doctors, dentists, and business owners follow similar paths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors and dentists have revised their schedules, working extra hours, in order to provide their patients with the care they need. Because it takes, more time to prepare for their patients, they are spending more time with them. Likewise, many retailers have limited their hours but given greater focus to creating an exceptional customer experience.
Just as in the examples above, now is the time for business owners to really key in on business changes that will set us apart. Since businesses have reopened, I’ve noticed that many of them are really struggling to provide the type of customer service that they did before COVID. Although one could make the argument that this is because they are understaffed, I believe it is a symptom of a larger problem.
Many business owners found themselves reeling after the initial shutdown. Rather than taking the shutdown as an opportunity to work on their businesses, they focused on the external factors which they had no control over. And, look, I get it. None of us have ever experienced anything like this. However, in focusing on the external, we missed the chance to identify opportunities for excellence. The good news is that it’s not too late.
Begin by assessing your business. What does it do well? Where is it lacking? Has the pandemic opened any opportunities? What are the biggest threats to your business? Essentially, you want to conduct a SWOT analysis and take advantage of your strengths and opportunities while you work through plans to mitigate your weaknesses and any threats to your business’ success. If we don’t identify the opportunities for excellence that exist within our businesses, we will never truly be excellent for our clientele.
RELATED READING: How To Use The SWOT Analysis To Improve Your Business
As business owners, we have the unique perspective of dealing with both employee-relations and customer-relations. This has never been an easy aspect of owning a business, but it looks a little different now. Many people are hesitant to venture into places where they will be in large crowds. As a result, business owners have had to adjust operational hours, implement extra safety and sanitation precautions, and, in some cases, completely alter their business models. With so many consumers choosing to limit face-to-face interactions, it has become increasingly important to make the customer experience an exceptional one. Not only have we made business changes in the midst of COVID-19 to ensure the safety and satisfaction of our customers but we’ve also seen sweeping changes within our teams.
Since the pandemic first hit the U.S., we’ve seen millions become unemployed. As we’ve begun reopening—or adapting them if we didn’t have to shut down—our businesses, business owners have dealt with just about every employee situation imaginable. Team members are dealing with sickness, personally or as caregivers. Some have chosen to remain on unemployment because they were able to draw a larger income with the extended benefit provided through the CARES Act. We’ve even seen employees deciding that their individual passions have changed, pursuing different career paths. So, how do business owners communicate their new expectations to their returning team members?
First and foremost, we must be honest with our returning teams. Clearly communicate the facts and how things will be different moving forward. In doing so, it’s possible that we might lose some of them. However, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In the book, Good to Great, by Jim Collins, he uses an analogy of getting the right people on the bus and then putting them in the right seats. Using the bus analogy is a great way to look at our current situation. We’ve come to a stop, some people get off of the bus while others will get on. Once we have the right people for our vision moving forward, we can then put them in the places that will help them to succeed and provide the greatest benefit for our organizations.
Once you’ve assembled your team, let them do what needs to be done. It’s very easy to fall into the habit of trying to fix everything on our own, but this is counterproductive to our goals. Instead, business owners must help our team to operate according to the new standards. Remember, a business that requires its owner to be at its epicenter is a business with little value.
Along with the business changes in the midst of COVID-19, come many financial changes. Millions of business owners received funding through the PPP and EIDL programs during the shutdown and early reopening phases. I know we’ve covered the PPP ad nauseam but many business owners are still unclear on how to use their EIDL funds. So, how do we use these finances to face the future?
Simply put, use them exactly as the government intended them to be used. The funds are intended to cover the costs of payroll and other operating expenses within our businesses. As we get rolling again, and begin to generate profits, we need to tighten our belts. Save that money. Conserve cash because we just don’t know what’s going to happen in the next six months. God forbid, if we have another round of shutdowns, I don’t think that we can count on the government to provide the same level of assistance that we saw through the first one. So, now’s the time to make smart changes to positively affect your business.
I know that the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough. Despite the hardships that it has caused, we can take this opportunity to learn and to improve our businesses. This is why I will bet on the entrepreneur every time. We get kicked in the teeth and find a way to get back up with an even bigger smile. There are a lot of business changes to make in the midst of COVID-19. But if we focus on providing an excellent experience for our clientele, allow our team to follow through with our new plans, and show financial discipline, we can make our businesses even better than they were before the pandemic.
Folks, life is hard. Owning and operating a business in 2020 is one of the biggest challenges ever. But life is still good. With a little planning and preparation, we can at least make improving our businesses financially simple. Hey, let’s go out and make it a great day!
Making the changes that are necessary to your business is a difficult task that doesn’t need to be done alone. To learn how a business coach can help you through this process, schedule a meeting! The business experts at Financially Simple are here to help.