Emerging: A New Version Of Business In 2020

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Signs of hope are emerging across the globe as economies slowly begin to reopen, but the sad reality is there will never be a return to the “old normal.”

Re-opening phases will look different for each industry and business type. B2C will have different challenges in reopening than B2B. Different regions have been affected in different ways and some more than others.

There is no cookie cutter model to reopening
McKinsey and Company has developed the CEO’s guide to reopening (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-restart) based on research they have done across the globe, specifically in Europe and Asia. One of the biggest differentiators will be if you are B2B or B2C.

The impact COVID-19 has had on the typical household budget is significant. McKinsey has reported that 44% of French consumers and 45% of British consumers plan to significantly reduce the amount of discretionary spending over the next weeks and months. This means, that as we consider re-opening our doors, we need to modify the anticipated traffic projections and customer base so we can accurately anticipate both our income and resources needed to successfully re-launch as restrictions begin to lift.

Another consideration that will primarily affect B2C is the social distancing recommendations that are still in place in almost every corner of the country.

Traffic flow within your retail location will need to be scrutinized and possibly re-designed to take into account the need for 6 ft of social distance between consumers, mandatory maximum capacity numbers, and ensuring that customers do not go opposite directions in the same aisle.

PPE or personal protective equipment, and access to it is another crucial consideration for businesses looking to reopen. Employees who are looking to return will want to know that it is safe for them to do so and that they can minimize their exposure in light of the high contagiousness of the virus.

Things such as temperature checks prior to entering, the requirement of masks and other protective gear for your consumers will need to be considered. Additional access to cleaning materials and hand-washing stations will need to be considered as well to decrease the likelihood of contamination within your storefront.

Restaurants will need to consider the above but also take into consideration the fact that they will not be able to serve as many people at one time due to the social distancing restrictions.

Dining space will be at a premium and a plan needs to be devised on how to effectively manage that reduced space while still keeping prospective diners happy even during what could amount to extreme waits.

Another thing for B2C businesses to look into is how to incorporate more electronic purchases and curb pickup options. The more you can provide your consumer with minimal contact, the better your odds of maintaining your the customer base.

B2B businesses will have more complex challenges. Different industries have been impacted in different ways and some more than others.

McKinsey is a bit vague in their advice here, but recommend that B2B businesses take a good look at their commercial priorities moving forward.

They also believe that B2B businesses that have been able to develop strong emotional relationships with their customers will be in a stronger position during the economic rebound process.

Three models for moving forward
Consulting firm BCG has laid out three main ways that governments are tackling the challenge in moving forward to reopening, and there are some key insights that we can tap into at a corporate level that can help determine your timeline for reopening.
The three ways are: the full reboot, full reboot with restrictions for vulnerable populations, and the graduated approach.

The most difficult model to implement would be the full reboot, as is being seen in New Zealand. Under this model, new cases would be at zero before restarting social and economic activity with some minor restrictions (such as international travel.)

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the graduated approach as is being done in China and here in the United States. This model has governments lifting restrictions in graduated phases based on three factors: progression of the virus, public health system capacity, and public readiness.

And somewhere in the middle is the full reboot with restrictions. For this strategy, businesses would reopen, but vulnerable populations like the elderly and people with compromised immune systems would be under strict quarantines and is not something that would be sustainable for long periods of time.

Taking a deeper dive into a graduated restart
The graduated restart requires that we identify when is the right time to reopen. For your business, this may mean you need to look at the conditions of the virus in your area. Are cases increasing or decreasing? How is the capacity of your local health care facilities? Do they have enough capacity to help should you or your staff become ill?

The same way that our governments are tasked with keeping us safe, businesses have the responsibility of keeping our customers safe. This may mean reopening with restricted hours, or hours dedicated to vulnerable populations.

Determining the right time to open depends largely on your local region and conditions. Just because the government deems it the right time to open does not mean it is the right time for you.

Only you and your unique set of circumstances can be the true indicator as to the timeline to reopen.