Ever since New Jersey lifted its mask mandate on May 28th of this year, all COVID-related metrics have been on the rise. As a business owner, it’s difficult, and potentially unwise to simply ignore this fact. Supplies, staff, and operational hours could potentially need adjusting in response to public sentiment and/or government mandate.
In this article I’m going to discuss the things to consider about the current COVID trends and how they could affect the state, and you specifically.
Read This Before Anything Else
If you’re tired of talking about COVID, I hear you; I didn’t want to write about it. I’m not here to get into science, vaccines, masks, or anything of that nature, I’m just going to discuss the business side of things, okay?
As crazy as it sounds, I’m so much happier writing about tax credits and other legislative events.
Celebrated Too Early: What’s Actually Happening
In short, all the numbers are going up. Cases, hospitalizations, rate of transmission, rate of positive results, etc… Google has a bunch of graphs to help you visualize and quantify the situation if that’s what you’re looking for, but I’m not getting into specifics here.
A bit of good news: they’re not nearly as high as they were at points last year.
Why It Matters
If there’s more people getting sick, there’s likely to be less people patronizing your business. Depending on the industry it’s either going to be a concern of staffing or stocking.
Let’s consider a framing shop as one example. They have skilled workers they pay, expecting that people will be coming in to get things framed and their workers will be needed. If the flow of customers suddenly dries up, that shop is paying their workers to sit around. There’s only so much tidying up you can do before you start considering people to take tomorrow off. From there it’s a pair of bad choices of paying your employees for nothing, or losing them to another employer.
On the other hand, consider a deli. Staffing is far less expensive, but there’s a large amount of perishable supplies that the owner buys regularly. When people stop coming through to grab a sandwich, all that food has to go in the trash, no way around it.
What’s Likely To Happen in Response?
It appears more likely that some people will make a choice to stay home rather than the state jumping in. One big thing working against the likelihood of more government mandates is that it’s a reelection year in NJ. Governor Murphy is definitely going to be more hesitant to institute a mask mandate than he was last year. He’s running for reelection, and the most damaging thing he could do for his campaign is to further impoverish voters by limiting their ability to earn a living.
Thanks for That Mix of Confusing News, What Should My Response Be?
- Consider your industry – Is your business something that your customers see as vital and necessary, or fun and frivolous? It’s great to believe in your product and service, but if you provide something that people want, but don’t need, it’s time to get realistic with yourself. If I was…an indoor jacuzzi salesperson, or a custom ceramics shop, I’d be a little concerned that my sales were about to dry up. If I owned a gas station I wouldn’t be worried at all.
- Consider your clientele -Do your customers fear getting sick or are they perfectly comfortable with how things are going. Just because you’re in a particular industry doesn’t mean your customers are of the same demographics as one of your colleagues. A diner frequented by elderly people should probably consider instituting policies to encourage their customers to keep coming. A deli frequented by younger laborers probably doesn’t have to do anything
- Consider your staff – See how your staff feels about things! This is in regards to their own comfort levels, as well as those of your customers. They matter, as the recent staffing shortage has shown. On the other hand, business owners can utilize their staff to discover what customers want or don’t want to see moving forward. Your staff can provide valuable information to help you make decisions, just ask them!
Consider the people that make your business run (on both sides of the register), and the services or goods you provide. These two variables will provide you with a ton of actionable intelligence as we head into autumn. I know it’s annoying and frustrating to continue having this conversation. It feels like the entire country’s been having the same conversation for as long as any of us can remember. As I sat down to pick a topic most useful to Monmouth County business owners this week, I sighed with frustration that this is definitely the one I should be writing. That said, this isn’t about what’s fun to write about, it’s about providing Sharp’s clients and whoever else with information that can guide the decisions they make for their businesses.