“Communication is always critically important, both during a pandemic and not during a pandemic,” said Spencer Field, a small business advisor.
As small businesses attempt to claw their way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, cash isn’t the only king.
Communication is equally vital, a message hammered home during “Prepping for Re- Launch: Steps to Get Back Safely,” a webinar hosted Thursday by the Monroe County Business Development Corporation (BDC). The webinar featured several guest speakers, who were each able to provide a unique perspective for small businesses looking to reopen under evolving coronavirus prevention guidelines.
“Communication is always critically important, both during a pandemic and not during a pandemic,” said Spencer Field, a small business advisor with the Michigan Small Business Development Center. “... First, do it early and do it often. If you’re looking at reopening over the next couple of weeks to the best of your ability, start communicating that vision to customers to let them know that’s something you’re working towards.”
Field added that it’s important for business owners to realize communication is not just about advertising to customers, but also being aware of what their concerns are, especially given the current health crisis.
“(They) really need to be listening and be empathetic with their customers,” he said. “This is not just a platform to talk about how awesome you are, and how great things are going to be when you reopen. You need to get into the minds of your customers, your clients, understand their fears, and worries, and concerns and what they’re looking to do and looking not to do. You need to start building your communication strategy around that.”
Amy Luck, attorney with RCO Law, said that communication between employers and employees is essential as everyone attempts to feel comfortable returning to work despite the threat of COVID-19.
“It’s especially important to make sure your employees feel like it’s a safe place to come,” Luck said. “I think the first thing you can do is talk to them about your cleaning efforts, social distancing, all the rules you have to follow and you are following... Explain to them that they are needed. While the State of Michigan especially has really limited a lot of businesses that can open, if you’re still open under that essential category or beginning to come back you can explain to them that for whatever reason the governor decided (you) are essential or the governor decided (you) are going to be allowed to open because you’re needed to support the supply chain and our community.”
Just as there needs to be a communication strategy between businesses and their customers, and employers and employees, so to do business owners need to be communicating early and often with their suppliers. Dave Nelson, client strategist for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, approached this topic from the perspective of his field of expertise.
“If your supplier maybe had pivoted to start making personal protective equipment (PPE), will they be able to supply you when the time is you need their raw material to come in?” he said. “You should be reaching out to them. Like everybody, they’ve been hurt financially here. They might be (normally) paying you in 30 days, and you might start seeing them paying you in 90 days. It’s all part of your plan too, and it’s essential because cash flow is king and you really need to understand what the suppliers are doing and what the customers might do
This is among the news and features The Monroe News is making available for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. You can find other news and announcements at our coronavirus special section.
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