BrandSource Michigan Chapter members Terry and Ann Denno, Alison Denno-Hotchkiss and Ryan Hotchkiss of Denno’s Funiture and Bedding

By Andy Kriege, YSN

In part one of this two-part series, we focused on ways to work on your business and to keep your employees occupied and productive.

It’s a win-win: you keep your business staffed and your employees keep providing for their families. Plus, keeping your employees on during the coronavirus crisis could qualify your small business for a potentially forgivable loan as part of the SBA’s newly refunded Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

When restrictions on commerce are lifted and customers begin venturing out again, you want to be locked and loaded and ready to get back to business.

Now is the perfect time if you have available staff to tackle tasks that may have been overlooked in the past, and they’ll be able to draw a paycheck. Here are a few ideas to keep your workers productive in the weeks ahead.

BrandSource member Terry Denno of Denno’s Furniture & Mattress & Denno’s Ashley HomeStore in Saginaw, Mich., is taking advantage of his state’s forced shutdown to take on many of the tasks that he typically doesn’t have time to address. “We have used this time to take inventory, replace price tags, clean and organize our warehouses, purge unnecessary files and, most importantly, plan out our reopening strategy,” he said.

Specifically, the company’s forward-looking approach includes developing guidelines for the gradual reopening of its showroom and preparing step-by-step safety procedures for all sales, office, and delivery and warehouse personnel. By doing all of the busy work now, Denno’s will be fully prepared for the day, which is coming soon, when they will re-open their doors.

“Even though the showroom door is not swinging we have taken every advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to make the best of a very difficult situation,” Denno said.

Alison Denno-Hotchkiss and Ryan Hotchkiss are planning for the not-to-distant moment when they can re-open the doors to Denno’s Furniture & Mattress.

In Part 1 of this series we talked about tidying up facilities. Today we’re going to focus on the business end of the operation.

Create or Update Important Documentation

Do you have written company policies and procedures, and if so, do they need updating? Since your employees understand how your business operates, now is a great time to get their insight on updating or creating company manuals and documents. This includes:

  • Onboarding guides and training materials
  • Operations manual
  • Branding and style guides
  • Detailed job descriptions

Have Staffers Post Your Social Media 

Use this time to bolster your social media presence. Train your employees to run your company’s social media accounts. Your social media accounts can be used to update customers on what you’re doing to combat the spread of COVID-19, updated operating hours, and any other changes to your operations (i.e., delivery and service options). Social media can also be used to share photos and encouraging messages, and it’s also a great way to stay top-of-mind with your customers when business returns to normal.

Consider Additional Training and/or Courses and Certifications

Even experts can always learn something new, so why not give your team the opportunity to challenge themselves and boost their knowledge? Cross-train employees so they can perform each other’s jobs. Online business courses and certifications make it easier than ever to learn a new skill or brush up on a variety of topics. Have your employees choose something that’s relevant to your business and their job.

The best part? Many of these options are available at no cost to you or your employee. While you may have to do a bit of online searching to find the right courses for your team, start with these options:

Plan out Your Marketing and Perform Market Research

As part of Denno’s Furniture’s forward-looking approach, the company is planning its advertising and marketing through the month of July. Your employees can also help improve your business by performing market research. Employees can create consumer surveys through websites like SurveyMonkey to get important feedback from your customers on what you’re doing right (and, of course, what you can improve on). You might also ask customers or employees to conduct a little recon into what your competitors are doing.

Brainstorm and Experiment with New Ideas

Have your employees approached you with ideas that you always push to the back burner? There’s no better time than right now to start tossing around these ideas. You can explore new products and services, launch a new marketing campaign, or test out other new concepts. Performing market research beforehand (as discussed above) can even help you identify areas where growth and improvement are needed.

Small Businesses Can’t Run Without Employees

Your employees are essential to your business. While it’s understandable to adjust your resources during this crisis, think about your business over the long term. If at all possible, instead of laying off your workers, use this time to be productive, test out new ideas and think about providing products and services in new ways.

Think outside of the box, and encourage your employees to get creative too. You may even find a way to take your business to a whole new level!

BrandSource is a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.

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