Pressing restart: Six tips for a grand reopening after a disaster or crisis

woman flipping "open" sign of business

An unexpected event like a natural disaster, pandemic or cyberattack can be a devastating setback for any business owner. As you work to stay afloat during this tough time, you'll need an effective plan for a grand reopening.

Read on for more details on how to address each of these points, so you can take the steps needed to reopen your doors as quickly as possible.

1. Stay in touch with your customers

When the unexpected occurs, communication is key. Update your website to give your customers a heads-up about your situation and ask for their patience while you work to return to normal business operations. Make sure customers know the shutdown is temporary and post regular updates of your progress on your website and social media.

If you don't have an Instagram or Facebook account for your business, now is the time to create one — social media is also a handy way to get the word out when you are ready to reopen your doors. Continue a steady stream of communications leading up to your reopening to stay top of mind and build anticipation among your most loyal customers.

2. Protect any vulnerable functions and assets

A business continuity plan is crucial during a disaster. If your business has been the victim of a cyberattack, you need to protect your business from the financial and reputation damage and protect your customers’ personal data. Back up your data, take everything offline and consult a cybersecurity expert to help you recover and minimize the risk of a second attack.

In the case of a natural disaster or pandemic, contact your insurance company. If possible, move to a different location or ask your employees to work from home until you can reopen. Be sure to heed the direction of your local government as to when it’s safe to open back up for business.

3. Keep the money flowing

Unless a federal mandate allows small businesses extra time for payments, rent and vendor payments are still due. Your first step is to request deadline extensions due to unforeseen circumstances. If your business is eligible, apply for an SBA loan or funds offered by a state, local or community agency.

If you run a restaurant or retail store, offer curbside pickup or delivery of your products. While customers wait for your grand reopening, promote vouchers or gift cards for future in-store purchases. Explain that each purchase is an investment in your business and allows you to move closer toward reopening. 

4. Don't stop marketing

As your grand reopening approaches, you’ll want everyone to know the date. A restaurant reopening announcement might look a little different than that of a retail store, but all companies rely on marketing to attract business. Draw inspiration from these ideas in your comeback campaign:

  • Drum up excitement with a countdown on your social media accounts
  • Prominently display your reopen date on your website and storefront
  • Send a newsletter to your contact list
  • Mail or email personal invitations to your best customers for your reopening celebration
  • Offer an incentive to refer a friend to join in the reopening festivities
  • Advertise sales and announce any changes to your business policies or store hours by designing a grand reopening sign, poster or banner with our online tool

5. Keep your employees and customers safe

If a natural disaster has caused physical damage to your workplace, operations can’t resume until the building is repaired and meets all safety standards. When reopening after a pandemic, strict hygiene measures must be followed by all employees and customers. Remember to regularly check for updates to your local laws once you reopen to make sure you’re following all up-to-date requirements and procedures. Until restrictions are lifted, follow these best practices:

  • Stock up on high-quality cleaning supplies and scrub down the interior of your business on a daily basis
  • Implement social distancing rules
  • Ask anyone entering to wear a face mask

6. Host a grand reopening event to generate buzz

A grand reopening doesn’t have to be an extravagant affair. Instead, you can cater to your budget and circumstances. It can be as simple as a few decorations and a special discount. If you’re reopening following a pandemic, it might be best to broaden your event window from a few hours to a few days to avoid attracting too large a crowd, to allow for social distancing. On the other hand, in the aftermath of a natural disaster, your office or storefront might not be safe for guests just yet, so consider setting up outside or hosting an offsite event where you can unveil the plans for your redesigned space.  Be sure to capture contact information of new customers who attend so you can recontact them in future marketing efforts. You can ask them to sign in at the door or drop their business card.

An unintended closure gives you time to consider new marketing strategies and alternative business opportunities after a natural disaster or crisis. When it's finally time for your grand reopening, be ready to burst back onto the scene with a business that's more prepared for whatever comes your way.

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