It’s not too late for the bridal industry to put certain measures in place to protect their businesses during these challenging times. Here are a few things you can do now
As a business owner, communication with your staff is vital in uncertain situations. Your employees are most likely worried about their health and how your business is going to cope during this period. It may be a good idea to set up a communication channel, whether it’s through email or social media, to update your staff about monitoring the virus in the workplace, travel plans, social distancing and whatever else they may need to know about.
However, if you are going to pass the information along, make sure it comes from the official GOV.UK, NHS and CDC websites. Finally, communication should be a two-way system, so make sure you make yourself available to answer any queries from your staff.
The Coronavirus pandemic was unanticipated for the entire world, including the UK. However, it’s not too late for small and medium businesses in the UK to take action and avoid further turmoil.
Whilst some companies may be able to continue operating to some extent, others will have to contemplate how their business will deal with things like cash flow and staffing issues. To do so, many businesses should draft up a ‘Disaster Preparedness Policy.’ This policy should include things like remote working procedures and meetings and travel restrictions if they are for work.
Make sure the policy is clearly outlined, and employees fully understand the processes, so that everyone has a full grasp of what will happen if the worst were to occur. Furthermore, it’s also a good idea to have a plan B and plan C in place as backups. Make sure you document these procedures so you and your staff can refer to them if needed. Having a disaster preparedness policy in place lets your employees know that you are preparing for difficult situations and that you have a plan of action in place if needed.
Where possible, introduce remote working for your employees and encourage those who are feeling unwell to stay at home. Communication and collaboration are vital when your employees are working from home, so it’s essential that you have the right tools to deal with this.
There are a lot of free tools business owners can utilise so that their employees can stay in touch and keep working even if they aren’t in the same place. Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout, Zoom and Slack are some of the more popular applications and they all offer tools to keep your employees productive.
For bridal retailers, sending your staff to work remotely can be somewhat of a challenge. As a consumer-driven business that relies mostly on customers coming into your boutique, your business depends on your staff being there.
However, there are a number of things your employees can do if they have no other option but to work from home. Firstly, they could sign up for an online course or even take part in some online training. There is an abundance of educational programmes online for those in the retail industry, so tell your employees to utilise their time at home and take part in some training that will benefit them when things start to pick back up.
Alongside this, employees can use this time to cleanse the company’s database, gather more leads and come up with ideas to boost the company once things return to normal. This is also a great time to work on your website and social media pages. Both Facebook and Instagram have tools to go live, so make the most of it. Communicate frequently with your customer’s and increase the amount of content you are putting out to keep them interested.
If your business is required to implement working from home, it’s a good idea to set out clear parameters for your employees so they know what exactly is expected of them during this time. Outline a plan for the working day and introduce specific measures to help establish a professional working environment.
Let your employees know what time they have to check-in and how they are to do so. Decide how lunch breaks will work and highlight what the policy is on leaving computers. In addition to this, determine where information will be logged and how you will keep in touch throughout the day. Finally, establish what time the day will end and decide if you are going to update your employees out of working hours.
Every small business should have some type of insurance, however, some standard policies may not include any protection if your business suffers due to an outbreak of disease. Therefore it’s important to check your policy wording to see if you have ‘Business Interruption Cover’.
‘Business Interruption Cover’ is a type of insurance that protects your business from the income that you lose after a disaster. This extra policy provision is applicable to all types of businesses, as it is designed to put a business in the same financial position it would have been in if no loss had occurred. Once you have confirmed that you have this type of cover, you will need to check whether you have an extension for notifiable diseases.
The UK Government has declared COVID-19 a notifiable disease, so reach out to your insurer to confirm that you are fully covered. If you aren’t, you may be able to ask for it to be added by your insurer, but they are within their rights to refuse or to ask for an increased premium.
Finally, it’s important to remember that all small and medium-sized business owners are in this together. No one is profiting from this situation, so it’s a matter of taking proactive measures until things return to normal. Undoubtedly, small business owners will take some sort of hit to their bottom line, and the economy is expected to have a significant effect, however, this will only be temporary.
The government have begun to implement certain measures for small business owners and have announced through the 2020 budget that there is business support in place to help minimize the impact of the situation. Finally, let’s all remember that the bridal industry is a resilient one, which unites to support one another during difficult and uncertain times.