Governor Edwards announcing Louisiana would remain in Phase II Restrictions through August 28, 2020 has many business owners in distress as these orders require a statewide mask mandate, closure of bars to on-site consumption, and crowd size limits of no more than fifty people. However, a savvy business owner must adapt to challenges to survive and thrive, whether those challenges come from increased competition or a worldwide pandemic.
There are certain measures that can be taken to help your business survive in these challenging times.
- Negotiate Reduced Rent
If your business leases its premises from a landlord, you may think rent is one fixed cost that you cannot decrease. Given the choice, a landlord would prefer less income in the form of a reduced rent than no income should your business go under leaving an empty building. An attorney can help draft a lease amendment providing for reduced rent for a period of time to combat the challenge presented by less business due to the coronavirus. This lease amendment includes language to protect the landlord so it is not a one-sided request. Lowering your overhead costs during this trying time can make a significant difference.
- Settle by Paying a Fine
Many businesses are breaching the guidelines imposed by the Phase II Restrictions. While breaking the Governor's orders certainly is not advocated, the fact is businesses must stay open to put food on the table. Bars are not permitted to sell curbside drinks, but restaurants are able to sell carryout alcoholic beverages. This has forced the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to temporarily revoke liquor licenses for businesses that repeatedly violate these rules. Yet, the ATC has reinstated the licenses of two bars, in Gonzales and Lake Charles, after paying a small fine of $250 and the license being reinstated on a probationary basis. This settlement was reached through negotiations by attorneys for both bar owners with the ATC. Rather than accept the license being revoked and continue to remain closed without a liquor license, these business owners were proactive in reaching a settlement agreement to prepare for reopening their businesses.
- Amp Up Consumer Marketing
With recommendations to stay at home, there has been a dramatic increase in online activity both on social media sites like Facebook and consumer review sites such as yelp and google reviews. Consumer marketing is a smart business strategy in today's economic climate. Ways of promoting your business include offering an incentive for checking in or posting about the business, such as 10% off the purchase by checking in at the business location or 15% off if the post includes a picture. This creates more traffic for your business and positive promotion without the marketing costs of typical advertising.
- Embrace New Sales Channels
With less foot traffic in the door for businesses, it is important to become creative and open-minded with how you will reach your consumers. For restaurants, this may mean offering delivery, partnering with services you have ignored in the past such as Waitr, Ubereats, or Doordash. For retail sales, this may mean offering Facebook live sales, video conference appointments, or interactive websites.
- Consider Outsourcing Legal Counsel
The most successful business professionals have seasoned legal counsel in their corner that they can turn to in challenging times, including advice on how to thrive in a global pandemic. Sometimes a set of fresh eyes and an offering of creative business solutions is the key to helping your business overcome a challenge. It is an investment in your business's future.