It’s been months since the coronavirus outbreak in March. States have been reopening and many people have started to resume the routine that they had pre-COVID. However, there is still so much uncertainty over the economy and consumer behaviors, which small businesses across the country still find it hard to handle. As a top small business lender in Atlanta, we would like to help entrepreneurs address this issue and propose a few ways to turn COVID uncertainty into advantages.
How Small Businesses Can Handle Prolonged COVID Uncertainty
Give Your Staff a Sense of Direction
In times of uncertainty, the best thing that you can do for your staff is to transparently discuss the concerns that they may have. As of October 2020, the unemployment rate for part-time workers was 6.7% and for full-time workers, it was 6.9%. For small businesses, letting good talents go is especially difficult since there has been a lot of efforts going into building a small, yet strong and loyal team. Therefore, employee termination should always be the last resort.
Pay reduction is a common way to retain your employees during difficult times. When it comes to furloughs, make sure to communicate with your staff about the decision as possible while acknowledging the effects that the change may have on them. Considering all the uncertainty that you have been trying to navigate, if there is no definite time frame for the pay cut, let your employees know. Overall, with whatever decision that you make, be sure to follow the Fair Labor Standards Act and the employment laws in your state.
Stay in Touch with Your Customers
Just like you, your customers also have to deal with uncertainty daily during the pandemic. That is why it is important that you provide your customers with reassurance and clear directions when moving forward. Some of the best ways to stay connected with your customers in the time of COVID include:
- Send out monthly newsletters and encourage your customers to subscribe to them
- Host livestreams on different social media platforms to answer questions that your customers may have
- Post frequently on social media with engaging content to spark conversations with your audience
- Offer video calls as an alternative to in-person visits if possible
- Enhance your payment online security and inform your customers with any updates on that aspect to raise their confidence in shopping from your online store or using your service online
Now more than ever, customers need to know what businesses are doing to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and accommodate the inconveniences incurred due to the virus. Even with small things like a change in operating hours or an increase of hand sanitizer stations in your store, let your customers know. Transparency and clear communication go a long way in building trust with your customers and it is their trust and loyalty that will lead your business through this uncertain time.
Be Transparent with Your Lender
Let’s be clear – banks don’t like surprises! If you find yourself in a position where you cannot make your loan payment due to the prolonged effects of the pandemic, let your lender know. Know that your situation is not uncommon and your lender is willing to help you overcome this hurdle. They can make changes to your repayment plan or temporarily lower the interest rate – just remember not to go silent on your lender.
This is also the time to candidly look into your finances and see if you can find some extra capital to make your loan payment. This may involve liquidating some of your equipment or pressing on some clients who still owe you money. If you can, bring in a CPA to help you come up with a strategic financial relief plan.
First Liberty Building & Loan – Your Top Business Lender in Atlanta
At First Liberty, we understand that these past few months have been tough for small business owners across the country. The prolonged effects of the pandemic are difficult to navigate and the cash flow seems to be more challenging than ever. That is the reason why we are here to help. Since 1993, we have been working closely with entrepreneurs and helping them secure the capital that they need. Let your trusted business lender in Atlanta help guide you through this difficult time with creative financial solutions.