May 19, 2020

As the word begins to relax its Covid-19 restrictions it is beginning to see how it might have to operate going forward. There are similarities among the steps individual countries are A glimpse into the future as we await our marching orderstaking to reboot the economy but there are differences as well. In fact, several countries, Canada included, have a variety of plans being implemented simultaneously across the nation.

British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario have begun to reopen some of the sectors hardest hit by the virus while the Maritimes and other provinces and territories are choosing to take a more cautious approach.

Currently, the government of Nova Scotia is consulting with commercial associations on how best to reopen their respective sectors. Businesses anxiously await the results of these consultations hoping for a clear path forward but are left wondering what to expect and how best to prepare. With that in mind take a look at the Yarmouth Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Five Ways to Prepare to Re-open” checklist found HERE. This checklist is generic and adaptable enough to tweak it to adhere to future governmental regulated guidelines.

As Nova Scotian businesses await their turn to reopen, hopefully with government sanctioned guidelines in tow, consider possible longer lasting implications of this protracted event.

·       Will cash be a thing of the past? How will this affect business models? How much will this increase costs due to associated cashless transaction fees?

·       What will consumption of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) look like? How many pairs of gloves and masks will be needed to operate on a daily basis and at what cost?

·       Will it be necessary to adjust hours of operation to accommodate the new cleaning regime mandated by the province? What products are acceptable and how much will they cost?

·       Is it feasible to operate if businesses are mandated to half the amount of customers allowed into establishments at one time? How will this impact cash flow for servicing debt?

·      Is it possible to maintain a two meter distance between workers or will staggered shifts be required to accommodate? How will split shifts impact the business model?

Perhaps the consumer won’t be willing to pay for some or all of these new costs. Owners will need to decide if operations under the “new normal” are profitable or if they will have to pivot and rethink the business model. There is no mistaking that this is a disruptive event! However, with any disruption, there is opportunity! The question becomes” how to capitalize on this disruption."

Economists and economic soothsayers alike all have ideas on what is in store but none can be 100% certain of what will be. However some of the reoccurring thoughts suggest change and thus opportunity in the following:  

·       Working from home and its success has shown senior management that large office spaces are not necessarily needed. Are micro head offices on the horizon? Can businesses divide commercial office space to meet this need?

·        Online virtual meeting platforms have called into question the need for business travel. Is there a market need for online meeting facilitators?

·        Cleaning standards will be heightened.  Are there enough cleaning agencies to handle this demand? Is there a market for specialized cleaning services that can be exploited?

·        Online sales have soared. Is now the time to be part of that trend?

·        Consumption has changed. Personal medical devices and supplies are increasing in popularity as are items that allow consumers to take care of their beauty needs. Delivery to the door for all matters of products, including food, has increased. Is there a niche market to facilitate these services?

·        Several pundits predict an outward migration from densely populated areas if work from home is possible. These same pundits suggest retirees will seek these more remote locations as well. They will drive demand for local services. They will arrive with their particular wants and needs. Those who are able to derive what they want and how to cater to it will be the ones who earn market share the fastest and it is the first to market that gains the advantage.

Look about!  Take stock of products and services. Start to think about how to capitalize on current resources to meet a future need. Figure out what must change to ensure success then reach out to six strategic partners identified in a previous blog (click HERE for the blog) to help this opportunity become a reality.