After several months of the COVID-19 emergency, state and local governments are executing on the plan to gradually lift stay at home orders and forced business closures. For many this represents an opportunity to serve customers and clients in a greater capacity. For others, it is the first time they will be able to conduct any business at all. In either case, the opportunity to re-open and focus on delivering products and services is definitely welcome. However, as Chicago businesses return after a long absence there will inevitably be new challenges and obstacles to navigate, but with proactive planning many issues can be circumvented.
To manage the unique risks that COVID-19 has placed on businesses, there are several best practices to follow. To help clients, prospects and others, Selden Fox has provided a summary of key information below.
- Follow Official Guidance – When re-opening it’s important to become familiar with the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control on a wide range of COVID-19 transmission prevention steps. At the same time, it’s also important to review the Phase III re-opening guidelines issued by the state of Illinois. The state has provided comprehensive guidance for businesses in a number of industries including health and fitness, manufacturing, offices, restaurants and bars, retail, service counters, and more. Be sure to check with city and local government agencies as well since the City of Chicago may have different rules than the suburban counties. Finally, for businesses that have a landlord, it is important to check with them to determine if there are location specific changes that must be followed as well.
- Check Insurance Coverage – If a business has been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 emergency, it is important to carefully review insurance coverage to determine if a business interruption claim can be filed. Check with your insurance agent to determine if current coverage covers interruptions caused by disease or pandemics. Since many policies have very specific exclusions, it is important to check with the insurance agent to understand policy limitations.
- Review Safety Protocols – Simple safety practices like additional cleanings, tracking employee health, and requiring face coverings can help mitigate risks. Preventing COVID-19 from infecting employees will reduce the likelihood of future business interruptions. Quality workplace safety protocols can be found in the Occupational Health and Safety Act’s guidance. In addition to employees, safety measures should also address the wellbeing of clients/customers and visitors to our office. Consult with the state and local boards of health to determine best practices. It is better to be more conservative during the initial re-opening phases and then modify safety rules down the road.
- Alternate Supply Chains – Supply chains, especially those that originated in China, were hit hard when COVID-19 closed factories and halted other business operations nearly six months ago. To successfully manage a similar disruption in the future, it may necessary to overhaul the supply chain. For some, this may mean forming a web rather than a linear sequence of suppliers. For others, this may mean updating technologies to keep real-time tabs on inputs and inventories.Creating a better supply chain should be all about improving visibility. In an ideal world, at any given moment, the following information should be easily accessible:
- Current supply and inventory numbers
- How to optimize the supplies you already have
- Projected needs are in a week, a month, or a year
- Identification of weak points existing in the supply chain and whether there are reliable backups
- Knowing which, if any, suppliers are short on resources and/or are at risk of going out of business
- Knowing which suppliers will honor the business relationship and prioritize the company’s needs
- Understanding where shortages are most likely to surface
Remember, an efficient and nimble supply chain will serve the business now during the pandemic and well into the future.
** With the ever evolving changes of the COVID-19 stimulus opportunities, please refer to our Response to COVID-19 page for the most up to date information. Please contact us if you have specific questions. **
There are many considerations that Chicago business owners need to make when initiating the re-opening process. The key is to follow guidance and ensure the business is protecting itself, employees, and customers. If you have questions about the information outlined above or need assistance with a COVID-19 business issue, Selden Fox can help. For additional information call us at 630.954.1400 or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.