Businesses all over America are facing challenges that we have never seen before. Companies are trying to stay afloat and position themselves to be ready for customers when the lockdown restrictions get lifted. In addition to surviving financially, your business needs to be mindful of potential liability claims down the road from clients and employees. A South Carolina business attorney can help you navigate through these uncertain times.
The economic and public health situations are changing daily. This COVID-19 business update can provide some guidance about measures you can take now, with the understanding that you will need to stay on top of new developments as they arise. You should always do what makes sense in your situation. Here are a few suggestions of things you might consider:
Reach Out to Your Customers
You can use email, your website, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media to stay connected to your customer base. Let them know that you are still in business and eager to provide the goods or services they need. Post a prominent COVID-19 update on all the pages of your website.
Tell them how they can connect with you and obtain your goods or services. Explain the steps you are taking to keep them safe. Assure them that you are following the applicable government regulations and guidance about COVID-19. Let them know which apps they can use to make purchases and get your goods delivered to them.
Place a large sign in the windows of your “brick and mortar” office or store. People need to be able to read the information from their cars or at least 10 feet away. Let the public know:
- Your new hours
- Any restrictions, like wearing masks, the required distance between shoppers, whether children are allowed in the store, how many people can be in the store at one time, arrows that direct the flow of traffic inside the store, purchasing limits, whether you accept cash, and whether you have a “one shopper, one cart” rule.
- Special arrangements, like the hours during which only people over a certain age or those in a high-risk group can shop.
NOTE: If you had to close temporarily, you might want to update your Google My Business profile to let people know that fact. If you are offering delivery, curbside pickup, or selling items through a shopping or delivery app, you should not mark your Google profile as temporarily closed.
Protecting Your Revenue Stream
Some companies can adapt to the current situation and keep some money coming in to stay in business. These suggestions will not work for everyone, but this is the time to use creative thinking. Some people have been able to obtain Small Business Administration (SBA) forgivable loans, government assistance, and other funding. Stay informed about new financing opportunities for your business.
A few of the assistance programs are federal, but do not overlook possible state, county, or municipal measures that could help. Mortgage and rent forgiveness, loan payment forgiveness, delayed or deferred interest on loans, and a moratorium on utility shut-offs for nonpayment are a few examples of measures that could buy your company some time during this pandemic.
Instead of the ways that your business generated income before the pandemic, you might want to think about offering:
- Curbside sales
- Online sales
- Gift cards for purchase through your website
- Online classes or consultations with clients
If you have not already done so, consider establishing an account with a local shopping or delivery service like Instacart so that your customers can make purchases with relative safety and convenience, and local individuals can earn some income by working as shoppers and delivery people.
Try to find functions that your employees can perform while working from home. You might find that you need less office space after this pandemic because some of your staff can work from home in the future.
Manage Potential Liability
You should take every reasonable step to keep your employees and customers safe. Before long, we are likely to see stories in the news about lawsuits from people who contracted COVID-19 visiting a store or office, making a curbside purchase, or having goods delivered to them. It will be a challenge to prove who was at fault in these cases, but the litigation could cost you massive legal fees.
Contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA today for assistance with local and federal directives for your business. Our South Carolina business attorneys can help you plan your operations to minimize your risk.