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COVID-19 Survival Guide for ETX Business

By BBB Serving Central East Texas. March 24, 2020.

The numbers give good reason for alarm. Every day, the people infected with COVID-19 skyrocket, and the number of dead increase. The stock market is on a roller coaster, and many days there’s more heart-stopping freefall than recovery. Small businesses are feeling not just the fear, but the very real economic impact. East Texas businesses need hope, and that’s what we’re here to offer.

This crisis will change our worldview forever, and the hardship may intensify before it gets better, but where we face challenges there’s also a chance to grow. This COVID-19 survival guide for East Texas businesses is about how to navigate the stormy waters ahead and emerge stronger when recovery begins. 

Set the Right Tone 

One thing that sets this crisis apart from previous ones is the uncertainty over how long it could last. If you’re a business owner or manager, people are constantly taking your emotional temperature and setting theirs accordingly. One of the most important, and perhaps most challenging tasks you face is finding the right balance in your reactions and communication.

Your staff needs strong leadership now more than ever. Resolve to be calm. Choose optimism by viewing change as an opportunity or challenge to overcome, not an insurmountable tragedy. 

Recognize the situation is fluid, and you may need to adapt or change course quickly. Stay light on your feet, constantly watching for chances to have a positive impact, better prepare for the days ahead or find new solutions to emerging problems. 

Support Your Employees

Daily routines are changing, morale is declining, the future is uncertain and Americans are overwhelmed. Your employees are looking to you for answers, stability and encouragement. Here’s how you can support them.

Sanitize

If you’re still going in to your office or business, work with staff and create a plan to kill germs everywhere they could be lurking. Disinfecting isn’t just a job for housekeeping; it’s an ongoing task for which everyone should be responsible. Here are just a few of the biggest workplace hotspots:

  • Doors
  • Restrooms
  • Refrigerators
  • Breakroom surfaces
  • Keyboards and mice
  • Light switches
  • Elevator buttons
  • Desk phones
  • Pen/pencil collections
  • Printer buttons
  • Point of sale terminals

Don’t assume everyone knows proper handwashing techniques. Make a video from a trustworthy source required viewing or provide your own demonstration. 

Empathize

Your staff may not be showing signs of Coronavirus, but everyone is infected with the uncertainty it’s spreading across the globe. These are unprecedented times. 

Your staff members are facing medical fears, learning to home school, worrying about job security and concerned about at-risk family members. No one knows how long this will last or how it will end. You can’t fix their problems or promise everything will be okay, but you can empathize.

Ask how they’re doing, and really listen. If they express emotions like frustration, fear and helplessness don’t try to talk them out of what they’re feeling, just let them know you hear what they’re saying and you care about their struggle.

Encourage Innovation

Your business is facing new problems, and each can be viewed as a chance to improve. Unleash optimism by soliciting ideas for ways to make things better. Don’t limit suggestions for innovation to any one area. Staff might have ideas for confronting the pandemic, serving people stuck at home, making remote work more efficient or creating new products and services.

Communicate

Your employees are ravenous for information. Right now no news is not good news. Combat the spread of uncertainty and misinformation by keeping employees in the loop.

As challenges occur, build trust when you let them hear from you. Even when you don’t know all the details, you can still say something like, “We know you’re concerned about XYZ, and we’re monitoring the situation closely. We’ll send daily updates as we receive information and make decisions.” Then be sure to follow up!

Secure Business Data

Coronavirus isn’t the only threat your business is facing right now. A cyber security breach could be just as devastating. Cybercriminals have more opportunity to do harm now than ever for these reasons:

  • People are already anxious and afraid. Social engineering plays on fear to get people to turn over passwords and identifying information.
  • Millions of Americans just received remote access from their employers and are working from home for the first time ever. Many employers never expected to give that access, so they didn’t have time to develop cyber security protocols.
  • Consumers are already receiving COVID-19 updates from the companies they do business with. They’re more likely to open and respond to phishing emails that mimic legitimate communication.
  • Workers are using home computers and laptops with inadequate security to access business networks and systems. They’re also signing in to new remote access technology. It’s unfamiliar, which causes more anxiety and greater risk. 

This is a threat you can guard against. Talk to your in-house information technology expert or search our database for trustworthy local support to make sure your business data is secure and your employees know how to keep it that way.

Stay in Touch With Consumers

Consumers are staying home to protect themselves and others, but they’re still interested in what you have to offer. Let them know what you’re doing to clean and disinfect. Share your efforts to make things better for employees, customers and your community. If your hours have changed, update your website, your phone menu, your outdoor signage and everywhere else it’s posted. Use social media to keep the public informed.

Let people know how they can obtain what you offer. Find ways to serve them through online sales, gift cards, curbside pickup, video consultations or home delivery.

Serve Your Community

Grocery stores are offering special pricing and shopping hours for seniors. Distilleries are brewing hand sanitizer instead of alcoholic beverages and gyms are offering free online fitness classes. It’s inspiring and uplifting, and it’s also very good for business. Find ways you can serve your community and make things better during difficult times and they’ll remember you when they need what you offer.

Take Good Notes

This too shall pass, but there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again. This time there were problems you never dreamed of and challenges that caught you off guard. Now that you know where the obstacles lie, you can remove them.

Ask how next time you can be better prepared. Make a list and come back to it when you have more resources and a fresh perspective.

Stay Informed

Right now we’re waking up to a new world every day, and you need trustworthy information to make sound business decisions. BBB offers tips on COVID-19, Coronavirus news, our BBB Scam Tracker and more. Access our free online Coronavirus resources to see how we can help strengthen your business today.

 

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