As more African countries begin to record cases of the Corona virus, the myth about Africa being immune to the novel virus has been dispelled. The impact of the outbreak is already being felt all over the world – falling stock prices, businesses losing money and man hours as almost everyone is in quarantine. Foreign governments are doing their best to ensure that their citizens are well provided for while they stay in their homes.
Here in Africa however, the story is slightly different. People are still going about their businesses but the question is “for how long”? What if more cases are discovered here and everyone is forced to stay home? Will our governments be capable of providing for us? Can our healthcare system contain the spread of the virus?
As a small business owner, you are probably wondering what to do if the government declares that all businesses shut down and everyone stay home. Can your business operations be carried out remotely? What would happen to your customers?
Your fears are not baseless; here are some ways to mitigate them:
Identify & Plug the Loopholes
You should take a moment to analyse your business operations. Which areas rely mostly on customer-facing? What are the alternative channels you can create?
If for example you have a physical store where clients come in to make their purchases, you can provide the alternative of delivering their purchases to their homes.
Create An Emergency Strategy
This will be your guide on the course of actions to take as things progress. Your Emergency Strategy should contain:
- How you plan to protect your employees and visitors to your organization.
- What you would do if there is an outbreak in your organization.
- Strategies for engaging your customers if the situation lasts indefinitely. This could include mouth-watering discounts or sale of gift cards that can be redeemed at any time.
The truth is that almost everyone is scared and that includes your customers. This is an opportunity for you to forge an emotional connection with them. Reach out to them via your digital platforms and reassure them as best as you can. Let them know your staff are being monitored to take the right precautions (especially if you are delivering items to their houses). Create opportunities for them to engage and interact with your business. Inform them of offers that might interest them. Ensure your phone lines are available and a member of your staff is dedicated to attending to their inquiries and complaints.
It has been established that avoiding large gatherings is a sure-fire way of preventing the spread of this virus. Employees are human too and are probably scared of getting the virus. Letting your employees work remotely ensures their safety and guarantees their focus on the tasks at hand. You can use management tools like Slack or even a WhatsApp group to keep tabs on their progress. Begin the day by assigning tasks to everyone on your team and demand reports from them at the end of each day. Surprisingly, your employees may end up being more productive working from the comfort of their homes.
Enforce Safety & Sanitation Rules
For some businesses to run, you need to have your staff fully on ground. The best you can do in this case is to sensitize your staff on how important hygiene is. Make it mandatory for them to check their temperatures, wash their hands with soap and water, spray surfaces with disinfectants and use hand sanitizers. Provide everything they need to carry out these practices. Encourage them to eat fruits and vegetables to strengthen their immune systems.
Finally, be present. This break might be what you need to come up with a brilliant strategy that will take your business to the next level.