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A few weeks ago we discussed some ways to make relief money work harder for your small business. These included keeping your staff on payroll (even if that meant changing their roles or environment), communicating to new and existing customers via advertising, and seeking out new vendors or bulking up on inventory to avoid disruptions in your supply chain. These were just a few things to keep in mind when using your relief money, and here are a few more:
Even though many states are moving into different reopening phases and easing restrictions, many employees and customers will want to use PPE (personal protective equipment) and hand sanitizer long after they become optional. Purchasing masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer and having them readily available for employees and customers will give them more confidence to work in and patronize your business. Other equipment to consider are plexiglass barriers, face shields, infrared contactless thermometers, and disinfecting wipes. See what businesses similar to your own are doing to make customers feel more comfortable, whether that’s setting up one-way aisles in a store or stickers spaced six feet apart to promote social distancing in a checkout line and follow suit.
Even if your business is gaining the stability it once had before the pandemic, if you’ve identified something new you can offer your customers, now is the time to try it. Perhaps you have a plant nursery that’s found success with home delivery during this pandemic–can you continue to offer same-day or next-day delivery to customers in your area? Or maybe you have a fashion boutique that’s suffered from shoppers being unable to browse through your racks–can you offer a one-on-one personal shopping experience through video calls? Remember that even though restrictions are getting lifted, it will take time for many to ease back into normal shopping behaviors–if they ever fully ease back into their old habits at all. Support those customers who are more timid about going out to patronize your business by bringing your business to them in a way that makes them feel safe.
While businesses wait to see if PPP loan restrictions will be eased for more effective use, one of the ways to make sure you use it most effectively outside of keeping your employees on payroll is to apply it to your rent and utilities. Remember that for PPP forgiveness, you can only use 40% of the loan for these kinds of expenses, and they must be incurred and paid for during the 24-week period. This means that any prior payments due would not be a qualified expense. It is also important to note that the rent or mortgage expense allowed is based off of a signed agreement in effect prior to February 15, 2020.
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