COVID-19 has had a broad and deep impact on California. Business owners are feeling the pinch especially keenly. Nonessential businesses have been forced to close, but as the economic vise tightens, what if your essential business needs to close on a temporary basis? There are some steps you can take to protect your business, your assets, and your bottom line alike — from plumbing and HVAC to your social media. Ace Plumbing has some tips you can use.
The steps below (and others that will be more specific to your business) will be much easier to get right if you’ve planned for them in advance. The Hartford’s small business portal suggests that you take time to review your vendor agreements, access to important financial information, backups, employee communications, and even alternatives to which you can refer loyal customers while you’re closed. This won’t be a stress-free situation, but you can mitigate the impact with a bit of forethought.
Legal and Accounting
There’s a patchwork of state, local, and federal initiatives dealing with the financial impact of COVID-19. The help can seem spotty, and the rules and regulations downright confounding. Talk to your legal and accounting teams for help dealing with available relief, employment law, rent or lease relief, and the other concerns you’re facing. As with the virus itself, misinformation and guesswork are not your friends right now.
Web and Social Media
Your marketing may be the last thing on your mind right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to go silent. Keep an active presence online. On one hand, it’s a reminder to your customers that we’re all in this together. On the other, it’s also a way for people who depend on your services — some of whom, let’s face it, we’ve grown to appreciate and regard as friends, not clients — to stay up-to-date on your activities. Let them know you’re going dark for a bit, provide updates as you have them (and tips they can use in the meantime), and you’ll be better positioned to hit the ground running when you’re ready to reopen.
If you deal in perishables, try to run down your existing stock before the closure so that product isn’t going to waste; if you need to apply the brakes quickly, reach out to food banks and other organizations who can use the product, and keep track of what you donate for tax purposes later. Reach out to vendors and distributors to suspend orders — especially things that would normally be automatically replenished. If you anticipate a longer closure, a utility shutoff can also save you money so you’re not paying for services you’re not using.
Plumbing and HVAC
There’s never a good time to ignore a plumbing or HVAC problem. That said, a business closure can actually be a worse time than most. Leaking fixtures, broken water heaters, or climate controls that are iffy on a good day aren’t doing you any favors, especially if there’s nobody around to mind the store. A slow drip doesn’t seem like much when you can empty the bucket from day to day, but you don’t want to return to pools of standing water, damaged inventory, or a problem with mold or mildew growth. Get 24/7 emergency plumbing and HVAC service before you go.
- Ensure that you’ve shut off all appliances and computers
- Be sure to back up all your financials, inventory records, and the like — both on and off-site
- Clean up the premises — floors, windows, break room fridge — to control for bugs and rodents and ensure that you’re returning to a clean business
- Update your voicemail and out-of-office
- Close windows, blinds, and shades, or paper over your windows, to cut down on passive heating
- Remove any valuables before you go
- Arm your security system, where applicable
We know these are uncertain, and even frightening times. We’re a small business, just like many of our clients. We’ve got families at home that we’re worried about, just like you. But we also know our clients — their work ethic, their resourcefulness, and their commitment to their customers and communities — and we’re confident that we can all pull through this together. The Ace Plumbing team is here to do our part, too.