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Covid 19 Business Reopening Checklist Part 4

Covid 19 Business Reopening Checklist
“COVID 19 BUSINESS REOPEN CHECK-UP TEST!*”
(OR RETIREMENT HERE I COME!)

 

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By Allan Gold, lawyer, lecturer and author. (Part 4)

Vol. 12, #18.3.4 – Aug. 7, 2020– ALLAN GOLD’S BLOG

(Editor’s note: This blog contains the last four items of the Covid 19 Business Reopening Checklist)

For Independent business; Small And Medium Enterprises / SME; Petites et Moyennes Entreprises / PME; Family business – From Governments (Canada, Quebec, Montreal), Financial institutions, etc.

Yes, it’s a Covid 19 Business Reopening Checklist, titled,

“Gold’s Covid-19 Small Biz Reopen Check-Up Test!*”

(OR RETIREMENT PLANNING HERE I COME!)

READERS’ ALERT-LECTURE EVENT. We’ve already announced a lecture (via the internet) featuring Allan Gold, (one of family law lawyers Montreal/business lawyer Montreal) dealing with a number of legal topics relevant to Canadians, running a business during the Covid 19 economic crisis. Please refer to the outline already published at Checklist #3 in Mr. Gold’s Blog uploaded on July 13, 2020. This lecture is now tentatively scheduled for the first week after Labour Day. The precise date and time will be announced on August 27 2020.

A. OPENING

Welcome back. This is the final part of this blog series for Canadian business men and women from one of family law lawyers Montreal/business lawyer Montreal. Whether it’s a family business, local business, independent business, PME, SME, etc., just about every founder/owner-operator now has headaches and worries. As a family law lawyers Montreal/business lawyer Montreal, I get it. You want to survive and continue on. But the economic environment has gone out of kilter due to the corona virus crisis. In addition, conditions have changed dramatically. There are public health orders restraining the public and also restrictions on commerce. In any event, people out there are homebound, frightened by the news. And even if you’ve got some technology, you and I know only too well that tech alone will not churn out money. It’s a matter of simple fundamentals – you must be offering at present, what people need/want and for which, they will pay the price. Next, you must be able to provide your goods and services in such a way that you can still make a profit. Of course, the whole point of the exercise is to make some money, now or within a reasonable delay…right? If you can’t, then you’re wasting your time. Accordingly, it’s mandatory that you determine whether or not, you think that you can weather the storm, master the ‘new’ normal, ride out the crisis and at the other side come out better than ever?” We all understand the problem – now let’s continue on with the check-up test so we can help you find some solutions.

B.“Gold’s Covid-19 Small Biz Reopen Check-Up Test!*” Cont’d

As a a family law lawyers Montreal/business lawyer Montreal, I have prepared this Check-Up Test to be an aid for each founder/owner-operator in his/her respective family business, local business, independent business, PME, SME, etc. In today’s blog edition at Checklist # 7, I offer a few ideas how you might make changes to your business during the pandemic. At Checklist #8, I insist that given the corona virus threat, you take “clean” to a much higher level. At Checklist #9, I speak of customer satisfaction and how it MUST be a major focus for you. At Checklist #10, like a coach, I encourage that you change your attitude and stance going forward.

7. REINVENT your business. At the outset, it’s necessary to recognize (a) That the business environment has been altered in the short term, probably in the medium term and perhaps for the long term. (b) That in every situation, there’s a way forward! (c) That the longer you wait to get with the program -the worst it will get; (d) That as a result, your way of business, in all likelihood, needs to change. It’s important for me to get beyond generalities. Here are some specific suggestions. To this end, you should:

7.1 EVALUATE your enterprise. In other words, BE your in-house business consultant and critically examine the company. The aim is to improve its operations. Here are two exercises by which you may carry out this evaluation. ASK yourself two big questions,

7.1.1 “Prior to the crisis, has the enterprise performed well, delivering goods popularly priced for a market segment or rendering a service in need by people who will pay for it?. If the answer is “Not perfectly,” then ASK yourself, “Why not?” And once you’ve made a short list of these reasons, thereupon SET out to make corrections.

7.1.2 “Would an outsider want to buy your firm?” If the answer is “Yes,” then ASK, “Why so?” Those are the strengths. If the answer is, “No,” then ASK yourself, “Why not?” Those are the weaknesses. When being critical like a fictional business buyer, you can determine the problem areas requiring attention. And once you’ve made a short list of these areas, thereupon SET out to fix them.

7.2 LOOK again at Intellectual Property (IP). It’s defined as “a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more than others. The most well-known types are copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_property) This said, DEVELOP and PROTECT your IP. (N.B. IP could very well be the means for an additional revenue stream down the road.) Step #1: CONSIDER protecting your trade name, logo, the distinctive names of your products/services, artistic designs, trade secrets, verbiage in selling materials, documents, etc. Step #2: WRITE -up a manual of the new normal for your business. Putting something down on paper helps to get beyond muddy thinking. In addition, this document in itself may ultimately become an asset, amongst your IP. Bottom line, MAKE IP a new Profit center!

7.3 CLEAN & ORGANIZE your workplace. When making a fresh start, it’s best to have your working area sparkling clean with everything put away back in their rightful spot. Indeed, a clean desk breeds a clean mind!

7.4 IMPROVE your purchasing function in and by adding to your list of suppliers, expanding supply chains, initiating bulk buying, ‘just in time’ procurement, etc.

7.5 FIND new and more efficient ways of doing things – in other words, MODIFY methods, processes and procedures! Here are a few strategies: (a) REORGANIZE & MAKE production faster and more efficient by moving things around, such as work stations, equipment, etc. Indeed, you can improve margins by achieving better work flows and saving needless steps of staff. (N.B. It’s good when you shake things up. This means that you’re trying to make improvements. Although, not all changes may work out, you’ll make progress by trial and error!) (b) EMPLOY automation and artificial intelligence when available and if affordable. (c) SIMPLIFY products and services as for example, if a restaurant, REDUCE menu product offerings to those which are the most profitable and in demand and if you do that, you’ll likely speed up your turn around production time theretofore.

7.6 SEE to personal time management. Here’s a riddle for you. “What’s a 4-letter word on topic, starting with “F” and ending with “up,” that you should say more often?” Give up, – it’s “Free-up!” You see, in order to progress matters and advance the business, I suggest that you hire an assistant to do certain routine tasks that currently eat up lots of your time. If you engage such a person and teach him/her these duties, you’ll be able to free yourself so that you may do something perhaps more critical for the survival of the enterprise.

7.7 EXAMINE your business model. Of course, you must remember that it’s always a work in progress continually in flux. BE ready to innovate and make changes – nothing is sacred and everything is on the table. In this regard,

    1. CONSIDER specialization. It’s not differentiation. It has more to do with acquisition of knowledge in a certain field and a concentration of activity therein. Product specialization is a common marketing strategy in which a company focuses on a single product or line in its offering and promotion. (N.B. This equally applies to a service company.) Such a move contributes to your becoming a specialist vendor of similar article/service; and as such, someone well-placed to advise your prospective customers and trouble shoot for them. While there’s a risk that you’ll lose some sales and traffic by dropping things, the advantage is that you could draw new clients your way.
    2. IMPROVE locality branding by including a tag line, saying “We’re (your town’s) (type of business) at (street and cross street)- so convenient on your way!”
    3. BE creative and DEVELOP new ways to make new sales. In this regard, (a) OFFER products and/or services in a different fashion or merchandise/service that wasn’t previously available through your company. Indeed, there could be another product/service that can be produced/rendered from the same facility; (b) TAKE current goods/services that have signature/marquee status and wholesale them to retail outlets owned by others; (c) AUTHORIZE other sellers to add your line of merchandise or service to their offering. (FYI, this was the means by which KFC launched in its early days.)
    4. MOVE your customer experience from ‘feel, smell and taste’ and more towards ‘pre-order, click & buy’
    5. MARKET differently to rocket fuel the recovery. Here are a few steps. (a) REMOVE any negative reasons that might stop people from patronizing your enterprise. (b) GIVE customers a new reason to come to you. A good example beyond quality products and services is to help people save time. Here’s what they don’t like. Waiting outside in line to enter bricks & mortar and make a purchase. Many businesses have altered merchandise delivery; as for example, by offering: (i). Curb side delivery; (ii). Service window to exterior; (iii). Curb service to car window (FYI, this was made famous by A&W in the 1950s.) But these don’t apply to every company. Accordingly, I suggest that you figure out the means by which you can offer all clients a VIP way to pre-order, prepay and take advantage of a special line for pick-up.
    6. PLAN a new marketing and promotion campaign. In this regard, (a) THINK about helping the little guy, perhaps offering some free services. In addition, CONSIDER giving back by not taking fees when dealing with government checks. (b) ACCELERATE the rediscovery of your company by customers new and old, this through the communication of the information on what extra service you now perform and the extra value offered. (c) LOOK for ways to get your message out to your target customer group and this as economically as possible, this in and by (i). Using sidewalk signage (ii). Trying pop up stores (iii). Securing a web page to take advantage of the worldwide web (N.B. Governments are trying to get ‘Mom & Pop’ firms to get an online presence so that they can save themselves.); (iv). Employing social media platforms for commercial purposes; etc.
    7. MAKE your place of business an incubation hub and ANNOUNCE that you’re having an open house, looking for new entrepreneurs with great new ideas to start their journey, whilst using your facility as their jump-off place. It could be free at first to these novices. But in order to put cash in your till, it could become a sub-lease or co-work centre run on a pay-by- the -hour basis. But the real advantage is: (a) That this may very well cause people who matter, to rally around; (b) That you may be able to acquire a new business area and find a new economic engine to ‘kickstart’ your business operations.

      7.8 ADDRESS the question of pricing. In this regard,

      7.8.1 RECOGNIZE that the cost of doing business has now increased immeasurably as for example, (a) That cleaning/sanitizing must be augmented to a much higher level; (b) That with the need for safe distancing, you cannot use square footage in your establishment as efficiently as beforehand; (c) That staffing costs are higher due to: (i). Need for entrance monitoring /testing; etc. (ii) Limitation of people in your facility at any one time, this then delaying customers, which in turn, leave staff serving a lower number of customers per hour; etc.

      7.8.2 KNOW that it’s likely that your prices need to rise, but it’s incumbent on you to figure out a way to recover these extra costs in a way that is palatable to your customers. Of course, price hikes might turn off certain customers or make your product or service too expensive for others. As a result, you may have fewer clients to offset higher expenses. And that’s a recipe for financial disaster! A quick fix is to placate client resistance by providing even more value for the price, this by delivering along with a safer environment, greater quantity or added product/service to the mix. Another way around is to offer deeper discounts at slow off hours for certain goods/services.
      8.RETHINK clean! You might have the goods, but if people who patronized your business in the past, are now afraid to enter or can otherwise acquire the merchandise/service without the need of incurring themselves when accessing your site, then your business is at risk. That’s why you need to do more….much more. Accordingly, to this end,

      8.1 KNOW that the word ‘clean’ has never been more important. Of course, you should follow sanitary and hygiene rules of health departments. KNOW that such is not good enough in today’s Covid-19 environment. Indeed, you must provide a better than clean environment. In this regard, a company must consider deep cleaning at the appropriate levels: sanitizing, disinfecting, and sterilizing. Most people will comprehend that sterilizing is the level required in a hospital or laboratory/research setting. But there might be some confusion over the distinction between disinfecting and sanitizing. The definition of the word, “disinfect” is “transitive verb 1 : to free from infection especially by destroying harmful microorganisms broadly : cleanse (Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinfect ) In the article titled, “Sanitize vs. Disinfect: What’s the Difference? And what about sterilize? Learn the meaning behind these common cleaning terms,” Melanie Fincher, wrote, “While cleaning refers to simply removing dirt and other impurities from a surface, sanitizing, disinfecting, and sterilizing all go far beyond this to eliminate harmful bacteria. Knowing the difference between these deep cleaning terms helps us to safely and effectively use our cleaning products. According to the CDC, sanitizing refers to lowering the number of germs on a surface to a safe level, “as judged by public health standards or requirements.” This process works either through cleaning (which physically removes germs from surfaces) or disinfecting (which kills germs). Sanitizing is generally a little more gentle than disinfecting. So while sanitizing refers to lowering the number of germs to a safe level by either cleaning or disinfecting, disinfecting itself refers to killing nearly 100 percent of germs on surfaces or objects, according to the CDC. This works by using chemicals to kill germs. Disinfecting doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces, but it does kill germs, helping to lower the risk of infection.” (Source: https://www.allrecipes.com/article/sanitize-vs-disinfect/)

      8.2 COME UP with a made-up-word or slogan which identifies your commitment to clean. Then COMMISSION an artist to make a logo and have your enterprise buy it with an invoice ceding all rights including moral rights for a dollar. MAKE signage and publicity touting your said commitment to clean. APPLY for a trademark and ADD an asteryx and right reservation line to the design. (This is an additional IP move that you can make!)The foregoing could help to reinforce in the mind of your customers that you’re serious about cleanliness and customer safety.

      8.3 ASPIRE that your premises be as Covid-19 free as possible. This means that you will do everything in your power to ensure that employees and customers are not Covid-19 carriers, striving to give each person a good outcome every time they visit. To this end,

      8.3.1 CHANGE over to disposable paper supplies wherever possible.

      8.3.2 PURCHASE (a) Hand sanitizers; (b) PPEs such as gowns, gloves, face masks, etc., where needed; (c) Plexiglas shields at counter tops, where needed, such to divide staff from customers and also to separate staff work stations.

      8.3.3 PLACE security guards and/or greeters at the entrances, asking Covid-19 questions and/or taking temperature readings, reminding everyone to abide by social distancing guidelines providing hand sanitizers, etc.;

      8.3.4 HAVE line-ups to regulate the number of people populating the store at one time;

      8.3.5 AFFIX directional signage everywhere;

      8.3.6 INSTALL hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the facility; and

      8.3.7 PAY close attention to public washrooms in this Covid-19 era and carry out extra measures as are appropriate.

      8.4 KNOW (a) That while employees want to work, they have concerns and need reassurance that they’re safe. And as the employer, you’re obliged to take precautions that are substantial and adequate in the view of a reasonable man. (b) That when staff are reassured, they’ll be confident when dealing with customers; and this in turn, should help make buyers more comfortable while in your premises!

       8.5 EMBRACE a new strategy, if in retail, trying to move customers away from the “feel, smell, taste” experience. The goal now is to figure out the means to deliver merchandise/services cleanly and sanitized/disinfected, this in order to give the customer a sense of safety and security, allowing them to go home, feeling safe and secure so that they’re not going to pass on the virus to their loved ones.

      9.FOCUS on customer satisfaction. Yes, indeed, it’s critical that you aim to please in a big way. When serving and doing for customers, TRY to bring it to another level. In this regard, you should:

      9.1 FIGURE out what your customers are saying and identify their chief complaints. As already stated, waiting and inconvenience will be a big one. But there are others and you need to know what they are. To do so, SPEND time interacting with clients and TALK to them. In addition, USE focus groups to find out how people are thinking and what they want from a company in your business sector. Once you have this information, you must capitalize on this unhappiness.

      9.2 MAKE ‘customer service’ a major preoccupation. A good definition is “…the support you offer your customers — both before and after they buy and use your products or services — that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you. Offering amazing customer service is important if you want to retain customers and grow your business. Today’s customer service goes far beyond the traditional telephone support agent. It’s available via email, web, text message, and social media. Many companies also provide self-service support, so customers can find their own answers at any time day or night. Customer support is more than just providing answers; it’s an important part of the promise your brand makes to its customers.”  (Source: https://www.salesforce.com/ca/products/service-cloud/what-is-customer-service/)

      9.3 STRIVE for customer SATISFACTION. It starts with knowledgeable help when the buyer is making the purchase, quality in the product, loyalty rewards, technical support, servicing after purchase, etc. It is defined as “a measurement that determines how happy customers are with a company’s products, services, and capabilities. Customer satisfaction information, including surveys and ratings, can help a company determine how to best improve or changes its products and services. a measurement that determines how happy customers are with a company’s products, services, and capabilities. Customer satisfaction information, including surveys and ratings, can help a company determine how to best improve or changes its products and services.(Source: https://asq.org/quality-resources/customer-satisfaction) Accordingly, this is quantitative data. And you need to know how you’re doing in real time.

 
10.CHANGE your attitude and stance going forward. In this regard, I don’t just want you to REBOOT your business, I also need you to RECHARGE and REFORMAT your mindset. To this end,

10.1 MODIFY your head space by looking back. REMEMBER when you were younger and you looked to what the market place was doing and what it wasn’t and on finding a need, you set out to satisfy that need and do it better than the other guy. Indeed, you had a dream and you launched the business with so much hope and you saw it come to fruition. KNOW that you’re going to have to get back into that state of mind because you’re going to have to do this all over again.

10.2 LOOK to the future as a fresh canvas. BECOME an innovator and LOOK how you can change things for the better. AIM to bring about a ‘disruptive innovation.’ This is “an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market-leading firms, products, and alliances. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_innovation)

10.3 BE optimistic. GET your positivity level way up there. BE confident and SHOW leadership.

10.4 BE open to anything and everything, ready to do whatever it takes to get to the other side. Indeed, as they say, “You gotta do what you gotta do!” KNOW that it’s going to be a wild ride and STAND ready to adapt nearly instantaneously. If you’re really an entrepreneur, you’ll be able to do it.

10. 5 BECOME informed by getting the facts and STAY current with all news in and by (a) Getting information from a reputable media outlet; (b) Keeping an ear to the ground seeking trade talk and/or industry-wide scuttlebutt. (c) Carrying out research generally and also, in your field; etc. Indeed, if up to date, you should have a half a chance to getting ahead!

C. CONCLUSION

As a family law lawyers Montreal/business lawyer Montreal, I can safely say that in my lifetime, the Corona Virus pandemic is probably the biggest global crisis that I’ve ever encountered. Without taking our eye off the health file, treating the sick, saving lives, searching for a cure and a vaccine, governments, Corporate Canada, small businesses from Main Street to the suburbs must work together and get our economy moving again. Of course, that must be a major focus. Indeed, the importance of the economy was driven home by the phrase, “The economy, stupid.” Such is based upon the quip, “It’s the economy, stupid” of James Carville, a campaign strategist of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.

This said, it’s also up to all of you founder/owner-operators in your respective family business, local business, independent business, PME, SME, etc. Yes, I’m speaking to you. I think that I’ve adequately made my point. If in business now and for the long term, you must change yourself and make improvements at your company. It’s in your personal interest, for the benefit of you immediate family, but also the society at large.

Quotes of the week (business-wise).

  • “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” -Dale Carnegie
  • “Nine out of 10 consumers agree that they are more likely to have an overall negative opinion of an independent business if its public spaces are not clean.” (Source: https://facilityexecutive.com/2017/11/business-cleanliness-matters-to-consumers/)
  • “Satisfied customer is the best source of advertisement”― G.S. Alag
  • “Believe you can and you’re halfway there” – Theodore Roosevelt

Last word.

I think that you’ll agree with me that when walking down a sidewalk, you need to watch where you’re going and if there’s a hole, you must step around it. Of course, it’s not good to blindly walk, putting one foot after the other, paying no heed whatsoever to the walkway conditions. And if you do walk without looking ahead, common sense tells us that it’s likely that you’ll injure yourself. It’s the same when in business and the economic environment shifts and you just carry on as if nothing has happened. Of course, it’s easier to keeping going straight ahead than trying to find new ways and making modifications. If you don’t, the probability is that this failure and neglect will result in sales dropping and profits being cut and this in turn, will hurt your wallet big time!. If this is where you’re heading, perhaps you’d better reconsider or move on to something else.

P.S. It’s not such a bad thing if after taking “GOLD’S COVID-19 BUSINESS PERSON’S APTITUDE TEST” of a family law lawyers Montreal/business lawyer Montreal, and you find your glass more empty than full. This is because you’ve been retirement planning and you can then say, “Retirement here I come!”

― Best wishes to each of you and to your entire family.*

Allan J. Gold

Avocat/Barrister & Solicitor

NO 1 Wood Avenue Condominium

4055 ouest rue Ste. Catherine, suite 128(-A),

Westmount, Québec, Canada H3Z 3J8

Adresse électronique: attorneygold@practitionerspress.com

Tel: (514) 849-1621; Fax: (514) 849-4664; Mobile: (514) 918-1450

www.allanjgold.com ; Blog: https://allanjgold.com/blog-glm/

D. PREVIEW OF NEXT IN THE BUSINESS LAW BLOG SERIES.

I believe that with this blog series, I may have started you along the way to being more aware of the law for business. I will continue on with the subject of COVID-19: Economic relief measures announced to date / Allan Gold – For Independent business; Small And Medium Enterprises; SME; Petites et Moyennes Entreprises; PME; Family business – this on the topic of the CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC and the corresponding COVID-19 relief and funding programs, but more precisely as regards the need for a business reset resulting therefrom. Today, as a family law lawyers Montreal/business lawyer Montreal, I covered numbers seven through ten of the Covid 19 Business Reopening Checklist, titled, “GOLD’S COVID 19 BUSINESS REOPEN CHECK-UP TEST!*” (OR RETIREMENT HERE I COME!) Next time, I shall start a series on retirement planning, starting with the ways and means to retiring well! Interested? Want to get more information about the current topic, retirement planning or other areas of law written by an “avocat,” one of the family business law lawyers, a business lawyer Montreal, practicing also in the elder law field? See you next time. It won’t take too much time. Remember my byline – it’s “Gold’s Legal Minute*GLM*!” And please don’t forget to join my professional community by entering your e-mail at the prompt.*

E. NOTICE – CAUTION –DISCLAIMER.

The material provided herein is of a general nature, strictly for informational purposes. The interpretation and analysis is not to be misapplied to a personal situation with a particular set of facts. Under no circumstances, are the herein suggestions and tips, intended to bring a reader to the point of acting or not acting, but instead, the hope is that they are to be a cause for pause and reflection. It is specifically declared that this content is not to be a replacement of, or a substitution for, legal or any other appropriate advice. To the contrary, for more information on these presents, related subjects or any other questions, it is the express recommendation of the author that everyone seek out and consult a qualified professional or competent adviser.

*©/TM 2020, 2019, 2015-2018, Allan Gold, Practitioners’ Press Inc. – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

** ©/TM 2006, 2008, 2018 Allan Gold, Practitioners’ Practitioners’ Press Inc. – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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