By Nevada SBDC Staff
As Nevada’s economy begins to slowly reopen, many small businesses are left wondering how to adjust to the “new normal”. Many restauranteurs, retailers and service businesses are uncertain of new health mandates and best practices, and are unsure of how to prepare for the future, including how to operate cost effectively. The Nevada SBDC has been hard at work with our partners at the Nevada Business Environmental Program (BEP) to compile practical guidelines for small businesses as they open their doors and adjust their business models.
On May 7, 2020, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced The Roadmap to Recovery for Nevada: Phase 1. In the roadmap, retailers are strongly encouraged to continue online or call-in ordering, curbside, delivery, and/or pickup operations. Indoor malls remain closed to the public but may establish an outdoor curbside or pick-up operation to the extent practicable. Strict social distancing requirements will remain intact for the foreseeable future, which means retailers should clearly designate 6 feet of spacing between employees and customers within their physical place of business. Businesses will only be allowed to have 50% occupancy (or less) of the allowed occupancy based on applicable fire code, and are encouraged to stagger the entry of customers and guests.
Along with performing daily deep cleanings, employers should also check employees daily for symptoms of Covid-19, and require employees to stay home when symptomatic. Providing hand-sanitizer to guests and implementing separate operating hours for elderly and vulnerable customers is also encouraged.
Now that you know what’s expected, it’s time to make adjustments and fine tune what will work. Acquiring new materials like masks, gloves, touchless payment systems, clear partitions, and hand sanitizer stations might seem unnecessary to some, but putting your employees’ and customers’ minds at ease (and preventing your own liability) is worth the effort. Because of the lasting effect of the Covid-19 crisis and extended reopening phases, consider restructuring your business model around new take-home options like meal-kits or DIY jewelry and clothing for the foreseeable future.
Be sure to verify your state, county, and local health district operation guidelines, as local jurisdictions can impose stricter regulations.
Going forward, small businesses will have to adapt to new ways of doing business. Small considerations such as opening doors for customers, discontinuing product samples, and modifying the return policy can have a large effect on reducing the transference of germs. Grouping employees together by shift reduces their exposure and makes contact tracing easier between employees. Taking such measures will demonstrate to customers the care and concern your business has for the community at large – invaluable positioning in today’s socially conscious market. Taking such measures will encourage customers to return.
All of these new protective measures start to add up, making it increasingly important to find ways for your small business to operate in the margins. Expanding services, implementing cost-cutting measures, and employing creative, cost-effective marketing can all help to keep your business afloat during these unprecedented times. Restaurants might consider selling produce (if allowed). Restaurants should also build a robust website that accepts reservations and offers other online features. Retailers could reduce hours of operations to cut-down on utility bills. Marketing schemes like giveaways and contests can spark consumer interest and keep them coming back for more. Clear, consistent communication with your customer base will be key to survival, so use free tools like social media to keep the conversation flowing around your business.
If you’re struggling to navigate new regulations, or having difficulty repositioning your small business in the time of Covid-19, contact the Nevada Small Business Development Center! Sign up for no-cost, confidential business advising with experienced small business counselors at https://nevadasbdc.org/. More industry tips for restaurants, food trucks, small retail, showrooms, hair and nail salons, and much more may also be found at the Nevada SBDC website.