Is your Business COVID READY?

by: Adam

We haven’t even finished with the economic impact of the coronavirus infectious disease outbreak aka covid-19 but I can assure you Covid-20 will be coming and when it arrives… are you ready? 

The next phase of our virus shutdown will be much swifter and the likeliness of how we operate our business will be critical to keep alive in the economy.

ADAM OLDFIELD – HOW TO HAVE YOUR BUSINESS BE COVID READY!

Bottom line: It’s time to rethink your strategy for your website update. FPM3 has been working remotely with online meetings (from home) since 2015. FPM3 is a complete paperless remote operation. Over the past 5 years it was a transition. A slow learning stage giving staff time to adapt working from home and most important the process of getting used to working from home. Our original intention was for productivity, cost savings, environmental reasons and keeping staff.  This process of remote working gave the flexibility for staff at FPM3 to have some savings on travel to work expenses, parking but also allowed more time to work with flexibility for that work-life balance.

In the fall of 2019, my agency was going through a bit of a turbulent stage. I had to unfortunately lay off a few amazing staff. Along comes covid-19 and the world is required to shut down or work from home. It allowed my agency to shine immediately from our years FPM3 worked to work remotely and operational with a work at home process. The five years of work from home was done over a transitional period paid off in the past 4 months because of covid-19. The agency has grown and has increased with more inquiries of turning their business online making sure that they can compete in the new post covid-19 world. However I still believe people are not going to be prepared for what’s to come with covid-20.  

Here’s some things you need to think about when strategizing and planning your new phase of operations.

Day-to-Day planning

  • We have increased the amount of meetings. Not being in the office has forced us to connect remotely through video chat. Two meetings are required each day. A 15 minute to 30 minute meeting first thing in the morning and a 15-minute post-meeting at the end of the day. This also includes a few chat discussions throughout the day.

SAAS software-as-a-service

it will be absolutely critical that you find a software that you can you work with that is in the cloud. As an example you’re going to need the following

An email, document management software such as G-suite or office 365. There are free versions of there as well but I really do request that if you’re running a small business you’re going to need to pay the $10 a month for the space and security of your files to be online

Accounting software.

Regardless of what you use you’re going to need a cloud-based accounting system. Your bookkeeper, staff and customers are going to need an easy convenient way to get their invoices, estimates, purchase orders and all through a digital form. It doesn’t matter which one you use but you may also want to incorporate the payment process through your accounting software depending on the size of your business.  My online accounting software of choice is QBO (Quickbooks online)

Payments Online

Setting up your bank is easier than ever. One of the things you need to factor is incorporating Bank deposits through mobile deposit, e-transfer or through your website. To do this you’ll need a merchant account (Chase, Moneris etc), link to your bank or credit union and a secure payment process that encrypts (SSL) the information for the payments to be made. You’ll probably need to use a service third-party like FPM3 to help with this or you can work with a company like Shopify to assist with your online sales. Keep in mind if you use their merchant system or a free payment system payment process (Square) they’re going to take anywhere between 3% to 4% off of every purchase made. If you get your own merchant system you’ll be playing as low as 1.15% to 2.25% which could be big savings if you’re processing a lot of payments online

Digital signing software

There are a lot of options out there. I personally use Adobe, but you can use DocuSign or many others that have a digital signature capable of getting approval from orders. Even the accounting software can come with the digital signing feature for estimates and quotes to be approved.

Project management

Depending on what you do is a business I can assure you you’re going to need a good project management software. Your business will want to create a project, track your time, and make sure that you have a record of how well and profitable your business is doing on each job. There are a lot of options to consider. A project management system will give you the ability to enter all of these features time tracking, budget tracking, in addition many other features that will make your business much more profitable and give you a better understanding of your bottom line.  FPM3 uses Mavenlink as our choice to track and monitor.

Video conferencing for meeting and chat system

You’ve heard a lot about screen sharing recently… Zoom, Teams, Microsoft, Cisco, 8 x 8, Google meet. All of these are great options for remote workers if you want to make sure that you use one that is easy and further incorporates encryption. There is nothing worse than a zoom bomb. It is important to have a video and a chat system that you can work with. The hardest part is getting your stuff understanding which system to use and when. My staff uses Google meet, Google chat as part of our regular communication within our office. However many companies can use systems like slack, or office 365 which comes with the team’s collaboration system that incorporates video and communication amongst team members.

Phone in VoIP systems.

There are a lot of options when it comes to this. You’re going to want to find a good voice system that you can commit with and incorporate that with your mobile service. FPM3 hasn’t had a physical phone line or handset phone since 2014. That was one of the first elements I removed to save money and create efficiency was my phone lines. It was one of the highest costs to my business and I needed to figure out a cheaper solution. We used primarily cell phones, VoIP systems that run directly through forwarding phone calls directly to a desktop or to a cell phone app. I currently use 8 by 8 which comes with both VoIP and video conferencing. And recently Google has announced in Canada that it has Google voice that you can now incorporate a phone number and use as part of your g suite system. It is absolutely critical that you have a virtual phone system that you can forward or Link phone calls to different systems or staff to allow for the calls to be heard. Also that the voice mail can be forwarded directly to the individuals so they can be responded to.

Website user experience 

If your website design doesn’t have a front-end and back-end it’s time to get it fixed. When Covid-20 arrives, this is going to be a wake-up call where your business website is going to need to communicate not only what you do, how to purchase but also have the ability for your staff to sign in and track their day-to-day information.  FPM3 web design has a portal where my staff can sign in and update their information and find out what’s going on within the business. I’ve also created training videos within the portal for my staff. It’s consistent, and it allows for HR management of my team effectively. It also allows everybody to know internal phone numbers, contact information and allows for my HR department to be able to keep track of the status of how staff are performing in addition to wage tracking and regular safety management protocols. As part of regulations you need to have a status of when meetings were made, and agreements that the staff have signed off on after training. They should all be done within a portal system for consideration in the case you do get an audit you’ll have access to these documents of your staff following safety procedures.

The front of your website needs to be mobile-friendly. That is your first priority. When your website is mobile friendly then focus your website to work with desktop. Even during Covid-19 many businesses weren’t ready for the amount of people trying to search for products online, Google has updated their recent search algorithms and as such the search world is going to be much more robust when it comes to removing garbage information online. If your website does not have the current in most relevant details of what you do, and why you’re good at it be prepared to lose ranking. It is highly recommended you consider using an SEO specialist to assist with website content and optimizing your website. It is critical for google analytics and the sake of better loading speed and the front end which is the website content preparation, blog posts and visual for stronger digital marketing that Google search engine likes to see. Website content, website images, youtube or vimeo video all of these elements are going to be a necessity for your business to be on top  when it comes to being found online

Every business is different. It’s going to require a lot of work and training to get up to speed on how to best prepare and plan for the next covid. This will not be IF Covid-20 is coming it’s just a matter of when. The bigger question is are you prepared?