11 Priorities for Small Manufacturers to Survive COVID-19 Pandemic
- Stay Safe: For those that stay in operation, follow guidance from the CDC and your state authorities on social distancing policies; protect your most valuable asset, your employees. Use this time to show that you care about their wellbeing.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate: Employees, customers, and suppliers are anxious about the future. Stay in communication with all, especially if you have to work remote. Take care to let laid-off workers know that you will bring them back as soon as operations allow. Keep communications regular.
- Reach Out: Contact your local SBDC and/or SBA office to get a full understanding of how the new small business loan & grant disaster relief programs work; these resources are changing quickly and in high demand, take advantage of them soon.
- Review Customers and Suppliers: Clearly assess customer revenue decline and potential timelines. Also evaluate supplier reliability and access to resources. Develop best case/worst case scenarios and monitor your assumptions.
- Assess Financial Position: Assess your cash flow and overall financial position; how long can you operate under current (if diminished) conditions? Make a plan to maintain operations as much as possible. Go one step further and consider quick investments to service pandemic-related demand. Retooling grant resources can support this.
- Leverage Technology: What technologies can be implemented now that will make you more efficient? Crises drive change that could support use of new technology.
- Respond to Crisis Needs: Look at your materials and processes and consider critical needs such as PPE, healthcare supplies, and other pandemic-related needs. Can you quickly service those markets?
- Connect with Resources: Learn about loans/grants available to purchase equipment to service current emergency needs; can you leverage that in the future? Reach out to trusted advisors, e.g. your bank, CPA, Economic Development Organizations, to get an outside perspective.
- Tell Your Story: Manufacturers are an important part of the solution to this crisis. Now is a time to reaffirm your company’s values. Let your employees and your community know what you are doing to respond. Contribute to local efforts. Let people know what you do and why it’s important.
- Look to the Future: Keep in touch with your customers. Try to gauge when and how demand may return. Analyze what markets hit you hardest and look to other markets and customers to further diversify. What will post-pandemic markets look like? What new certifications might your business need? Will you need new or additional suppliers to sustain new business?
- Revisit your business plan: How should the plan change so your business is better positioned to weather the next crisis? What new processes and procedures should you implement that will allow the business to quickly adapt to changing future demands, i.e. the ability to pivot rapidly?