All over the U.S. businesses are assessing the impact COVID-19 has had on their operations. Few have gone unscathed. There have been disruptions in customer access and demand, supplies, logistics, and other critical areas that have significantly impacted revenues, forcing businesses to scrutinize their cost structures and business models. In fact, so much has changed for businesses and in the world at large since March that it’s difficult to fully digest.

And then, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the nation, businesses and towns are reopening. Here in California, due to low viral cases, Governor Newsom’s phased plan has accelerated, prompting local leaders and County officials to come up with protocols for reopening safely. Since health safety is the priority, businesses have to follow operational directives in order to reopen. But finding consistent information on those directives has been a challenge for our county’s residents and business owners. To that end Mendocino County, with the help of the West Center, created a site where business owners can find current information on reopening protocols, industry-specific worksheet checklists, and even a process for self-certification that shows your customers that you are doing the right thing and taking everyone’s health safety into account.

In the meantime, for each and every business owner, there are decisions to be made around employees, capital, sales, and marketing, to name a few key areas. In response to that need, West Center assembled a team of professionals to help our businesses survive and thrive as the impact of COVID recedes.

The Reopening and Recovery series kicked off with a webinar on a central element to financial survival today:  Lease Negotiating between landlords and tenants. Check out our Lease Negotiating PDF Here.

Commercial property owners and managers are finding themselves between tenants with little to no funds and banks demanding payment on their loans, while many business owners are caught between their lease payments and the survival of their businesses. The current economic strain has put business owners and landlords in a unique position where they have an opportunity to work together for the betterment of both.

Some of the actions recommended:

  • Prepare for the conversation with your landlord or tenant by going over the lease agreement

  • Both parties should get a clear picture of individual financials

  • Have discussions with your lenders and insurance companies

  • Find SBA relief programs

  • Explore options like applying security deposits to cover shortfalls, temporary reductions, and deferments

HR issues and the new structure of facing a workplace post COVID-19 was addressed by Lisa McCormack of Affogato consulting. She talked about the uncharted landscape of new health requirements and restrictions, along with new PPP loan rules for bringing back employees. Business owners learned about:

  • The important elements of a furlough recall letter

  • Employees who are uncertain about returning to work may be eligible for FFCRA benefits–FFCRA created 2 forms of paid leave benefits for employees impacted by COVID

  • Remote worker considerations like paying a percentage of phone, rent, and utilities

Financial concerns were addressed with Jerry Murphy, retired CPA. He covered PPP or EIDL loans, and the costs associated with the alterations necessary for staying in compliance with the new health directives. Jerry explained

  • the details of the loan forgiveness process

  • talked about ways to revision your business model to fit the current restrictions

  • detail about how to manage your cash flow

Sales are key to any successful rebound. This was addressed by Rachel Clark discussing the new climate of today’s consumers. Attendees learned about the areas of their sales processes that need to evolve and where new opportunities lie for more customers along with:

  • The New World Sales Process

  • Empathetic Sales Communication

  • Follow Up Standards to navigate the lockdown transition

There are still more sessions coming this month:

Marketing strategies when the world is sheltered with  Kira Wojack for Marketing insights. After weeks of social distancing and sheltering in place, people are eager to get “back to normal,†but what does normal look like in the context of a pandemic? In a world where your target market’s main focus is safety, how does your brand measure up? Customer habits are changing, and marketing and branding practices will have to keep up.

Attendees will explore the different stages of marketing your business in a pandemic, including ways to build trust with a wary customer base, how to adjust to the new normal, and safety as your brand.

Health and Safety for your business come for a webinar on Workplace Health&Safety. Alison de Grassi will help you get your workplace safety guidelines mapped out using the industry-specific worksheets available on the county website. Self Certification is now a requirement for reopening by the County. Work with one of the founders of the County’s guide and a few local businesses that successfully navigated the site and built great workplace guidelines.  Bring your ideas, concerns, and questions. Panelists will address the most current safety protocols in place to ensure COVID guideline compliance. Learn what local industries are doing to work together in order to reopen safely and build confidence with consumers and neighbors.

Visit our webinar archives for past webinars and register for new ones. We welcome all of your questions and want to help get Mendocino back to business!