National emergencies, such as the one spurred by Covid-19, are always difficult times to run a business. They are especially problematic for small- and medium-sized businesses that don’t have the financial resources at their disposal like large corporations do.
At StorageMart, we partner with businesses across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to help them achieve their business goals by providing the storage they need. As a result, we have a unique point of view regarding how our partners are weathering this storm. After all, we’re a business too—we’ve also had to adapt to this national emergency.
Each business will be affected differently by each crisis, but you can still make changes in your operation to be as efficient as possible and get through it as best as you can.
Embrace Work from Home
Stay-at-home orders have effectively shut down many common businesses, preventing people from physically going to work. However, nearly every business has employees who can do their jobs while working from home. These employees include HR, marketing, operations, sales, and more. Even customer service and call center employees can work from home with the proper equipment provided.
For those businesses who haven’t previously dabbled in work from home situations, don’t worry—even before the crisis, five million Americans worked from home more than half the time, with millions more occasionally doing so. Here are some tips to help you get it set up:
● Maintain your company culture—doing so will help morale and keep operations going.
● Be cognizant of online meetings—online meetings are a different beast than in-person ones. Tailor your online meetings for what they are, not what you wish they were.
● Keep employees accountable (but be reasonable)—it’s smart to keep track of what people are doing and where their productivity is. It is not smart to implement extreme measures to keep track of what they’re doing every minute of the day.
Work Ahead Where You Can
Most businesses are seeing declines in sales in some capacity and are simply less busy. This means you and your employees have more time on your hands than in non-crisis times.
It’s impossible to conjure sales where there are none, of course, but it is possible to be efficient with the time you have. Chances are, there are projects happening at your workplace you haven’t completed (or started) because of the day-to-day facets of your business. Now is the perfect time to kick those projects into high gear. Be they market research, training, organization, or something else, these projects will help your business be poised for success after the crisis is over.
Keep Your Employees at the Forefront
A business is only ever as good as its employees. Great employees are a force multiplier of sorts, able to make ordinary products into compelling ones and good products into truly amazing ones. Keeping your employees around is also a financially sound decision due to the underlying and mostly hidden costs of turnover. A 2017 study found it costs one-third of a worker’s annual salary to hire a replacement. Organizational knowledge just isn’t easy to replace.
It’s entirely possible your business will have to make some sort of payroll changes, whether that’s enforced salary reductions, furloughs, or layoffs. These may be necessary, but do remember your employees are at the forefront of your business. They are, in many cases, the face of it. Some tips:
● Be transparent—whether you’re laying off anybody or not, your employees don’t want “business speak” but instead want clear, direct, and honest communication.
● Help your employees with unemployment—if you do have to make cuts, go above and beyond to assist them in signing up for unemployment benefits and help make other transitions.
● Make sure cuts or changes are necessary—employment cuts should be a last resort, not the first. The reputation of your business is at stake if it’s clear you’re taking the quick way out.
Your business is probably profitable for a good reason: It sells a solid product or provides a service your customers need. However, when the going gets tough, creativity is important. Consider branching out into new areas, selling your product in a different way, or performing your service differently. This crisis will eventually end, and most companies that get through it will be able to ramp up eventually. Being creative can help bridge the gap and get you there.
StorageMart is Your Storage Partner
We’re proud to work with businesses everywhere, and in the current crisis, our partnerships are more important now than ever. With slower sales, inventory storage is important, and our storage units can help businesses downsize and offer a safety net. If your small- or medium-sized business needs storage, the friendly staff at StorageMart is here for you. Find the nearest StorageMart location today to get started.