Now that the government is using local lockdowns and restrictions to target COVID-19 outbreaks, we should all be ready for local restrictions to be applied at any time. Is your business prepared? Have you got a Crisis Management plan in place, that deals with PR as well as practical issues? Read on to find out some points to consider. Local lockdowns are happening in the UK where areas of higher infection rates have been identified. Depending on the source of the outbreak, a local authority or the government can restrict activities at particular locations and close individual premises - and restrictions can differ between areas.
- An up to date list of areas with local restrictions can be found on the government's website HERE.
- If you are a member of the FSB (National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses) you can ask your Development Manager for support and follow them on Twitter for current updates. You can also contact your local council.
When we went into lockdown in March, nobody really knew what to expect, but with the local lockdowns warned of, there is time to make preparations as part of your normal business continuity planning.
1. Learn from what happened within your business during national lockdown. Is there anything you could have managed better, with more notice and hindsight? Talk to your team - they might have some great suggestions or observations, from a different viewpoint.
2. Are there any businesses similar to yours that have already been affected by local lockdowns? Maybe you can reach out to them and find out how they coped? Franchises and national businesses will be at an advantage here.
3. What do you need to have in place, to enable your business to move online, or to remote working, at short notice? Does everyone have all the info and tech they need, to be able to work from home?
4. Have you got a PR plan in place? With national lockdown, everyone knew what was happening across the country. With local lockdowns, especially where your business runs across boundaries, it may be hard for customers to know what they can and cannot expect from you. If you've got multiple locations for example - you might have restrictions in place in some locations and not others. How will your customers know what services you are able to provide?
5. Who is on your PR crisis team? Once you've got a plan in place, who will be responsible for actioning it at short notice? You could potentially go home one evening and have lockdowns enforced overnight, so your crisis team need to be able to carry out the plan remotely and without procrastination.
6. Are you ready for questions? If a local lockdown happens suddenly, it's likely your customers will have questions. What will happen to their orders? Can they still come to their appointment? Will they be refunded? How will you reassure them? To minimise the amount of queries at what will already be a stressful time, consider publishing your COVID-19 plan on your website in advance, so that your customers know what would happen in various scenarios.
7. Review, Edit and Re-Issue regularly. In the coming weeks and months, as more areas go through local lockdowns, it is likely that processes will change and you will learn from colleagues and competitors. Your crisis response plan is not set in stone. Review it often, in light of new information, and make sure everyone has a copy of the new edit!
Taking time to organise your business and effectively communicating with your customers through this crisis will put you in a better position when business returns to normal.
How are you planning for the possibility of local lockdowns in your area?
Bucks Biz provides office space for rent in Milton Keynes, with units available for all sectors, to suit a wide range of requirements. From small one-person offices to warehousing or offices with socially-distanced space for 100 people - we have the perfect base for your business.
We are more than just space to rent too. We are a community of businesses all eager to help each other. Throughout the pandemic, we have supported our residents to secure funding where it has been available and in adhering to social distancing and safe working practices, throughout our centres.
Why not visit us and see for yourself?