After you’ve re-evaluated your business model and worked through the questions here, it’s time to safely move forward with your new strategy.

Government Guidelines

The Government of Alberta announced its Relaunch Strategy at the end of April, which provides guidance on how and when businesses can safely re-open. We’ve developed an infographic with a summary of when certain kinds of businesses or activities can resume in-person operations.

The Government of Alberta has provided general workplace guidance for business owners reopening or continuing operations, which provides information on communication-related to COVID-19, sick staff and volunteers, and prevention. All workplaces are expected to develop and implement these policies and procedures prior to re-opening or continuing operations after May 1.

Additionally, businesses in Alberta can voluntarily complete a simple template that provides details on how they will comply with the requirements and guidelines laid out by the government. This is meant to ensure those that open are aware of their requirements and have a plan to follow them. The completed template should be publicly available within seven days of reopening, either online or by posting at the place of business.

Visit Alberta Biz Connect for general and sector-specific guidance available and resources to help with planning for operations. As Alberta moves through the stages outlined in the relaunch strategy, make sure to keep informed to see if anything above and beyond the general guidance will pertain to your business.

If you still have questions about your business and relaunch after visiting the resources above, you can direct your inquiries to BizConnect@gov.ab.ca.

Internal Operations

Businesses have had to work through a lot of unexpected challenges in recent months. Statistics Canada data released from March 2020 showed that 15% or more of businesses in Alberta altered methods of production, altered products or services offered to customers, discontinued a product or service, added new ways to interact with or sell to customers, increased use of virtual connections externally or e-commerce, voluntarily closed temporarily, closed temporarily as mandated by the government, or cancelled contracts.

Now more than ever, we know to expect the unexpected. Businesses of any size need to be able to adapt to various situations that may arise as we get back to business. Think about these scenarios for your business, and what you can do to be as prepared as possible.

    • Do you have employees returning to work in a physical location? Ensure they are well informed of the steps being taken to prevent the risk of transmission of infection, and how they will play a part in that. As employees come back to work, it’s important to be prepared for any increases in absenteeism due to illness of the staff member or their family. The Government of Alberta has developed resources that can support you in creating a plan that will work for your business. It’s also important to think about how your workplace culture may have shifted, and the effect this could have on employees. Find ways to get feedback from them on how best to move forward with operations, and make sure to connect individually and as a team.
    • Do you have an emergency response plan? Right now, this could include guidance on what you or your partners/employees will do in the case of someone being exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19. Now is also a good time to think about other risks to your business, and how those could be mitigated or responded to. If you are a solopreneur, ensure that someone close to you knows your plans and could help you implement them. To get started, take a look at our blog on creating an emergency response plan, which includes a template you can use.
    • Are you prepared for the financial ups and downs that we may still experience with this pandemic? You are probably working with an accountant or bookkeeper, but it’s important to have a basic understanding of your business’ financial position month by month. Knowing how to manage your cash flow now will serve you better in the future, whether we are in a crisis or not. Here are five steps to manage your cash flow.
    • Is your business operation heavily reliant on the sustainability of one other business, for example, a supplier? You might want to consider how to diversify in this area. If you receive your goods from abroad, you may have already seen delays. Are you able to find a supplier that is more local? Are you able to find a few suppliers that could fulfill your needs? Can you manage some processes yourself? Now is a good time to explore new or different supplier relationships for your business’ needs.

External Operations

It’s important to note that throughout all three stages of the Government of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy, physical distancing restrictions will be maintained. Whether you provide goods or a service, we have seen businesses in all sectors finding new ways to serve their clients. Some customers may still prefer options like curbside pickup, or contactless delivery through online shopping. If you aren’t already selling online, and your business would be able to take advantage of ecommerce, check out our blog on how to start selling online.

Frequent communication with your customers about what your business is doing is paramount. As always this includes informing clients of your value proposition and how they can purchase your goods or services, but it is more than that:

    • Make sure customers know when and how they can access your business. What are the hours for curbside pickup? How long will something purchased online take to be delivered? If anything is delayed, make sure to communicate this as quickly as possible. Do they need to book an appointment to come in person? Keeping customers up to date on these kinds of things will show that you value their time and business.
    • If you have a physical presence, make sure to update your hours of operation if these have changed from what they were previously. Before and when clients enter your space, make sure they know what you are doing to keep them safe. This will help them to be prepared, as well as show that you care about the wellbeing of them individually and the community in general.
    • Get feedback from customers as to what they are feeling, their upcoming needs and wants, and how they would best like to interact with you. Implement what you can and clearly communicate these changes.
    • There are many uncertainties at the moment, and there may be for some time. If anything changes, keep customers informed. This will show that you are on top of things and that you care about giving them the best experience possible. Social media or email newsletters are great ways to do this, as well as a message recorded on your phone’s menu or voicemail.
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