5-point checklist to reopen your business

5 min read
Lou Clarke

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 saw many businesses temporarily close due to the regulations put in place by the Federal and Provincial Governments. I saw 91% of my clients close their doors because they were no longer legally allowed to be open. But slowly, businesses are reopening, following a long COVID-19 checklist.

This list does not simply include health regulations.

It also includes items like:

  • Retraining employees and customers
  • Informing customers that the business is open
  • Learning new social media skills to get your business seen after months of being closed

Here are five steps to reopen your business after the pandemic.

Editor’s note: If you don’t have a website, now’s definitely the time to get one. Let the world know you’ve reopened with Websites + Marketing. Fast, easy, free.

1. Meet federal and provincial health regulations

We’re all excited that we get to reopen our doors, but if you do not follow the rules that the governing bodies have put in place, your business could get a bad reputation.

People are very sensitive right now and will probably take to social media to vent about a business that is not following safety protocols.

Tape on Floor Showing Social Distance
This is likely to be a familiar sight for some time to come.
Photo: Aleks Marinkovic on Unsplash

Make sure you read up on and abide by the rules for your city and province. Government Canada has a great website that shares all the rules and regulations, including links for all provinces and territories.

Related: Dining out — The new rules for Canadian restaurants

2. Prepare your team (if you have one)

It is the employer’s responsibility to keep their team up-to-date on:

  • Safety protocols
  • Expectations for each staff member
  • How the business will be operating

Keep in mind that your staff will probably not be aware of all the government’s regulations. Think about creating new procedure checklists for them.

3. Reach out to your customers

Barista Pouring Cappuccino into Coffee Cup

Once you have met all the health rules and regulations, it is time to communicate with your customers as to:

  • When you will be reopening
  • What your new hours will be
  • What services/items you will be offering
  • What the health protocols your business will be following
  • What rules you expect customers to follow

Do they need to wear a mask? Do they need to bring their own masks?

Will they be calling into the business to let you know they have arrived and then wait in their vehicles until you are ready for them?

To keep your current customers and gain new ones, clear communication will be key.

4. Get financial support

Chances are you will need some financial support until you begin to build momentum in your business. The government has enabled a number of financial options for businesses that need them:

Your bank

If you have yet to do so, connect with your bank to see if you can qualify and apply for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA Loan).

CEBA is a ,000 loan at 0% interest, with no monthly payments required.

If you pay the loan off by December 31, 2022, you will be able to retain up to 25% of it. Should you not pay it back by December 31, 2020, the loan will turn into a term loan at a lower percentage rate.

Emergency wage subsidy

Man Standing at Store Checkout Counter

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is supported by the Canadian government and offers businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 a subsidy up to 75% of employee wages from March 15 to August 29, 2020.

The qualification for this subsidy is based on:

  • Sales numbers
  • Average pay per employee
  • If the employee is arm’s length or non-arm’s length

Note: If you claim the CEWS for an employee, that employee cannot also claim the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for the same time period. It is your responsibility to advise employees if you are submitting for the wage subsidy.

Temporary wage subsidy for payroll businesses

There is also a 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy available for all businesses that run a payroll.

This subsidy allows businesses to claim $1,375 per employee, up to $25,000 per employer.

This amount is deducted from the monthly PD7A remittance.

5. A new marketing plan

Once you have your health protocol set up, have prepped your employees, communicated with your customers and received the funding you qualify for, it’s time to plan for how you are going to tell your community that you are open and ready to serve them.

Just like marketing plans change from winter to summer, marketing post-pandemic is going to be much different than pre-pandemic. Make sure to share:

  • How you are supporting your customers during these troubled times
  • What sales and promotions you are offering
  • Why people should invest their money and buy from you

If you are wanting to build your customer base and your business now, you will need to build a marketing plan around the pain points that people are feeling and how your business can solve their problems.

Ready, set, reopen!

There are small businesses out there that have decided to close permanently due to financial issues.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to reopen, then you’ll want to do it the right way.

As hard as it may be, if you can reopen then you can make a go at making your business a success. It may take some time, so be patient and ask for help from your community. By following these five steps, you will have a good start to bringing your business back to life.

The information contained in this post was accurate at the time of publication but may change based on federal or provincial updates as the pandemic continues.