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As you rounded the corner into 2020, with business growing and working on new ideas to move it forward, you were ready to take it to the next level. However, what a surprise we all got in just a few short months.

Taking it to the next level meant deciding how to survive in a new reality.  You were forced to make tough choices that not only affected you and your business. They affected the lives of your staff, vendors and more. As you read this article, remember all the choices that you made, think about how you adapted and what you will do moving into 2021, with or without the pandemic hovering above the world.

 

Many Months

I remember when I really started paying attention to the COVID-19 virus talk.  I had just taken a cruise with my wife and was attending the franchisee convention. As I was talking to vendors and sharing their thoughts on what was happening in the news, no one really took it that seriously at the time. There were some rumblings about delays on some inventory that came from China, but nothing that indicated what was to come. As my team and I sat down and discussed the month upcoming and training that we are implementing, I mentioned that we need to be ready to pivot if this became something, but not to really worry.  I was doing the same as the rest of the country at the time.

Only four weeks later, we had just completed schedule adjustments for major vehicle losses due to state shutdown of many businesses. The roads were mostly empty and so were our bays. Weekly inventory orders became bi-monthly. Hard decisions had to be made on furloughs of employees and staffing levels. The PPE loans were not even a thing yet. When you are readjusting monthly budgets from making net income to “breaking even” and not taking a loss, you feel the real weight of the situation. 

The decisions that had to be made needed to be carefully thought out and analyzed in order to avoid becoming the next business to close.

 

Emerging

Then it was May and with summer approaching, business had started to come back slowly in certain areas. The government offered PPE loans for businesses that wanted to apply, and some states were starting to move through phases of reopening. Employees started coming back to work.

The way you did business each day had changed. You found ways to lead with less staffing and many in our industry discovered that taking just a little more time with the customer had led to higher sales KPIs.  Where were you during this time? Was your store turning around?  What did you learn during those weeks of lean and mean?

Businesses really began opening again as the end of summer approached. You could go to the mall, eat at restaurants and more, all with the inclusion of a small, cloth mask. This had become the new normal.  You had to wear one when you went to the grocery store or to go for a checkup at your doctor. In some cases, you found a negative effect on your customer comments or scoring from those that think you were not taking this pandemic seriously enough or not enforcing other customers to take the stance.

Did you set up sneeze guards and add sanitizer to your normal supply lists each month? As your customer counts continue to get better, that means that there are many more opportunities for your employees to be face-to-face with potential issues. The new norm of masks and safety doesn’t mean that everyone will be happy with the change. At least some things didn’t change.

By the time you read this, we will be nearly ready to round the corner into 2020.  We may or may not have a new president, we may or may not have medication to fight off this virus and so much more.

You survived a sickness that shut down so many businesses and continues to affect so many lives. Think about your experiences and what you learned from them. How can you continue to feed off them to make your business build back up? 

As much as we know that 2020 was the Year of the Closure, you must believe that 2021 will be your Year of the Comeback!

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