Most cities have opened back up for business in Phase I or Phase II according to their state’s guidelines. As everyone has heard ad nauseam, cases are going up in the majority of the states.
We are being told by city officials we aren’t doing it right.
As a small business owner, “right” is a constantly moving target. The situation is constantly changing. The guidance is shifting and the situations we are facing daily as business owners are rapidly cycling.
- What do we require of our customers and employees?
- If an employee or customer tests positive for COVID, what do we do as a business?
- If an employee or customer knows someone who tested positive for COVID, what does the company do and what do they require of employees?
- When should you send everyone home to work or close down again?
- What happens to your PPP forgiveness if you shut down again and don’t pay employees?
This is just a few of the questions, situations and decisions plaguing business owners each day. I wish I had the magic answer for everyone, but unfortunately, we all have varying situations and types of businesses.
I will give the one piece of advice I am following and suggesting to our clients.
Create a policy and procedure and stick to it.
If you try to make decisions every time a situation arises, chances are you will not be consistent. Different situations create various levels of stress. Cumulative issues and decisions wear on you and you may start making more emotional decisions.
The best way to stay consistent and put your best thinking in place is to create a policy and procedure and stick to it.
Examples of things to consider:
- What is your process for customers/ clients coming to your place of business? Are you open for business in person? If so, are you taking temperatures, requiring masks, limiting number of people in at a time, requiring appointments or reservations, asking people to stay in the car until their appointed time, texting the customer when you are ready for them, etc.?
- What is your process for employees? Are they working on site or from home? If coming to the office, are you taking temps, requiring masks, limiting to social distance capacity meetings, etc.?
- If an employee has had in person contact with a person who tested positive for COVID 19, do they come to work if they have no symptoms? Do they try to get tested if they have no symptoms? Do they work from home until they are past the 14 days or until they get test results?
- If an employee has had in person contact with a person who has not been tested, yet has been in contact with a third party who has tested positive, should the employee come in to work? They probably won’t be able to get tested if they do not have symptoms and they have not had direct contact with a COVID positive person. This one is really hard but is starting to come up frequently. Make a process that you think is prudent and try to stick to it. This is one that is easy to change your mind on based upon stress and emotion.
- Finally, if you send employees home or close up shop, do you pay the employee, furlough the employee, or use sick time and vacation? There are rules if they are actually sick. Look up the family leave under the CARE Act.
I know a lot goes into making these decisions and we want to say, it depends. I know that it is easier to make a more balanced decision when you are not faced with an actual situation, or when sales for the past few days haven’t been terrible.
If a new and extraordinary situation arises or the government requires it, you can always adapt and make a change. If it is the same issues that we are all facing daily now, you will be more consistent and objective if you have guidelines to follow.
It is easy if the government has dictated specifics in your case, but in some situations, it is grey. In those cases, you will be happy you have a policy and procedure in place. Even if some of them have to be your own.