BONUS Epi: Reopening Your Business after COVID Checklist

Reopening Your Business after COVID Checklist

Bonus episode on the Business Bites Podcast

The Gist Of This Episode: With all the day-to-day changes as an effect of COVID, it’s important to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep yourself and your business safe from liability.  In this bonus episode, Rachel shares a checklist of things to do to reopen your business. 

 

What you will learn:

  • things you can do to reduce your liability
  • why you need to know what your government directives and CDC guidelines are
  • suggestions on how to make sure your clients/customers know your business policies
  • why you need to do all the things on this checklist and not just pick and choose
  • and more! 

Expand To Read Episode Transcripts

Speaker 1:
Welcome to The Business Bites Podcast, the podcast for busy entrepreneurs. Whether you’re an online entrepreneur or seeking after brick and mortar success this podcast brings you quick bites of content so you can learn and grow anywhere you are. Now, here’s your host, Rachel Brenke.

Rachel Brenke:
Hey guys. Welcome to a bonus episode of the Business Bites Podcast. I am your host, Rachel Brenke. And I am just going to throw this out there throw the numbers off on all of my episodes so that my podcast manager fires me, not me firing her. You see who runs the show here. But honestly, I want to get this episode out to you, who cares what she says. We are just going to call it a bonus show and get this all pushed out because you guys have so many questions about outlining legal steps to reopening, and your businesses are accepting new clients, going to homes and offering services, et cetera. So what I want to do today is walk through a real quick COVID-19 reopening checklist for your business. This is not the be all and end all. It could potentially change.

As you’re going to see when I go through each of the steps, I’m going to keep reiterating that that checklist item is dependent upon when you’re taking the specific action, because as you have seen the governmental directive, shutdown, quarantine, lock down, everything has been changing, shelter in place from day to day. We just don’t know what way is up, but you as the business owner have to stay on top of this. You guys can head over to rachelbrenke.com/covid. We have a COVID-19 specific landing page, and that’s where I’m going to put this episode, as well as all the other awesome downloads that we have. We’ve got a waiver of liability that is specific to COVID that we’re going to be putting up there, a release waiver, as well as we have rescheduling addendums. If you have events or other types of type of programs, or events, or services that you’ve engaged for clients or customers with that you can reschedule it all the way through cancellations and other goodies.

We’re also going to have all the other COVID specific podcasts episodes we have recorded on that same landing page. So rachelbrenke.com/ C-O-V-I-D or COVID. So let’s just jump right in. The very first thing that you guys need to do is before you can decide anything for your business is identify what the governmental directors are at that time. I just gave you a little hint into this. You just need to look and see what is the state or jurisdiction. You might want to look state, county, city, maybe township. Wherever it is that you are doing business, look to see what those specific government directives are. If you’re a restaurant, certain locations are requiring only certain amount of capacity, other locations are not allowing anybody inside at all. That is what I’m talking about when I say identify the governmental directives. What type of business are you?

Are you even allowed to be open? Is there an occupancy limit? Are there any other restrictions that your government has put on you? The reason for this is A, I want to keep you guys out of hot water with the government, right? We do not want to have any sorts of issues that we’re going to have to unravel and fix. And B, should your client have an issue, or your customer that comes into your location have an issue during this time when you’re technically not supposed to be open, or you’re not identifying and adhering to governmental directives, that’s one more thing the client could use against you should something happen to them. And I’m not specifically speaking to that your client would necessarily contract COVID, or that they would claim that contracted COVID, but it could be a variety of things. Client comes into your location or a customer comes in and they fall and break their leg, doesn’t mean that just because you’re open would be why you should have to pay, or the fact that you were responsible for them falling on your stairs and breaking a leg.

That’s not what I’m saying, but it could be one more thing that your client or customer could point to as to why you should be liable for whatever act did occur. So the very first thing we’re going to do is identify the governmental directives and adhere to them. What I would strongly suggest as small business owners, keep your ear to the ground. Make sure you’re listening to see what is going on. Don’t just look at it now, say “The governor said this this day,” and just take that as gold. Things can change. I would put it into your schedule to at least do a weekly check in on this to make sure that you’re staying on top of this if not daily during this time.

The second thing I want you to look for is check for liability insurance coverage. If you don’t have liability insurance, you need to get it. Now, and we’ve talked about this in previous episodes specific to COVID, I have beat it into the ground that insurance is huge. It’s part of the legal triad that I have been talking to you guys about for years for liability protection. That triad are contracts, business formation such as an LLC or corporation, and then liability insurance. Right now with all this going on with COVID, we want to check your liability insurance for coverage should you have a client or customer who may claim that they have received COVID from your location, or from staff, or yourself. Obviously I’m not going to go into talking about proof and responsibilities and burden and all that here. Just understand that some people be crazy, and the goal of this list is make sure you’re doing everything on the up and up so if there’s ever a potential claim.

Quick time out on this, understand none of this list that I’m giving you is going to keep you out of hot water if you have COVID and you intentionally go to your location, if you intentionally ignore cleaning procedures, if you don’t follow what you’re supposed to do and you intentionally go while sick. Yes, that is not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about if you didn’t know you had it, you didn’t have symptoms, or just by the mere sheer fact of people moving around in society that a client a customer tries to claim that they contracted it from your location. We want to make sure to check to see if we have liability insurance that could potentially cover in a situation like that. Checklist item number three, we want to adhere also this CDC requirements and or advisement.

All right, this contrast from the very first thing on the checklist of identifying governmental directives, those are really more towards who can be open, can’t be open, how many people, et cetera. On the CDC side, we’re going to look to requirements and advisements of social distancing, six feet apart, masks, et cetera. There could be some crossover here between checklist item number one of government directives, and checklist item number three of adhering to CDC requirements. Some states and locations are requiring that masks be worn in public and they are governmental directives. That is also could fall under the CDC requirement and advisements. So we want to look at both of these lists and institute them into our business. Going back to this, some of the top things I can think about for CDC advisements would be the masks, gloves, six feet, social distancing, proper cleaning techniques depending on what type of business you are, identify the requirements, advisements, adhere to them.

And again, like I said before, keep up to date on the most recent output that they are putting out there. Put into your schedule to stay on top of being knowledgeable of all of this, because let’s say a potential thing happens, a potential client believes that they contracted from you, we want to be able to say, “Well, we were adhering to CDC requirements. We were adhering to governmental directives.” A couple more things on the list I’m about to share with you guys here in a second, but you can see where we’re going with this. We’re trying to insulate you from liability, not just do the right thing. That is, I think common sense assumed in default here. We want to do the right thing, the legal thing, and the right thing to keep everyone happy, and healthy, and be able to continue doing business. But we’re also looking for ways that we can help to insulate you or point to that you took reasonable steps to reduce any potential infection or spread of COVID.

All right, checklist item number four. And you guys have been seeing this as the very beginning when all of the COVID-19 shutdown started happening, you were getting mass emails from companies that are talking about their policies, how they’re going to interact with their customers, et cetera, same thing for you guys. Even if you’re personal services, and you’re very directly only working with one person like as a photographer in a photography studio, you may only have one person, I still want you guys to be communicating with your customers your policies directly to them and publicly. So I suggest putting it into an email blast to your email list, putting it on your social media, on your website, but that’s not enough. I want you communicating directly with your customers or clients. So let’s say for example, you have one-to-one customers or clients, make sure that they get a copy of the policy.

If they’re coming into your physical location, post it on the wall, if you’re going to their house, maybe have a cleaning service or a plumbing company, provide those policies to your customer prior to entering their space. Also, strongly suggest if you are a like a retail or restaurant establishment, you post these publicly. We want to have as many places to inform and communicate to the clients our policies of what you want to have, what you’re enacting in your business, but also what you want them to comply with. Okay. We’ve got to also put on them the consumer also has some responsibility in helping to adhere to all of these guidelines. So we had identified government directives, check your liability insurance for coverage, adhere to CDC requirements, communicate with your clients your policies directly and publicly and last, but certainly not least on this list, you want to use an assumption of risk or liability waiver.

Now understand this has kind of put the legal industry on its head a bit because these waivers generally in the past have been used for risky activities, high risk activities, like going on roller coasters, or skydiving, bungee jumping, and that sort of thing that the person engaging in the activities assuming the risk of that high risk activity. Well, we wouldn’t necessarily think that just going down to the local retail shop to buy a pair of jeans would be a high risk activity. But these waivers and these liability waivers are becoming more common. A lot of business owners are requesting them. And frankly, a lot of consumers are starting to look to see what you guys have in place for these. Be wary here. I’m using the term of like assumption of risk waiver, liability waiver.

You want to sit here and understand that that is a broad term. That’s a broad title of designation of this document. What is in the document is going to vary depending on what sort of lawyer that you had drafted it, how they draft it, and what they’re going include. Okay? We have put over a release of liability waiver that’s COVID specific. Rachelbrenke.com/covid the same landing page where you guys are going to find the podcast and all of that stuff, we’re going to have that over there for you guys to check out and use. And I strongly suggest that you inject it into your workflows right now to ensure that you are informing your clients or your customers just like what we talked about checklist item before this “Here’s our policies, here’s our procedures, but you’re still assuming the risks they may potentially contract COVID if you engage in business slash come into our location, or we enter into your home or your location. This is what you’re assuming the potential risk of contracting COVID.”

Okay? This is just one piece in these layers. Think of it like hurdles, or I always share the example and I’ve said it on the podcast before, like the movie Independence Day with will Smith when they’re shooting the alien spaceship and you see the force field, I want as many force fields between you guys and potential liability. That’s why we want to have that legal triad of the business formation, we’re going to want to have the liability insurance, and then also when you say contracts. You’re going to have other contracts like services, et cetera, but in the case of this, this also this assumption of risk slash liability waiver partnered with the communication of your policies. And also obviously you and your staff or team members need to be informed of this and also adhere to set of policies and ensure that those coming into locations are also adhering to the policies outlined because none of … I would not pick and choose this list.

You guys need to use this checklist as a whole, because these are all the hurdles and all the buffer that we want between you and liability, and should something happen, should someone try to claim that they contracted COVID from your business, from your team members, from your product, from your service, these are the top things I’m looking for right now in ways that we can point to, to show that you took the reasonable steps, you were forward thinking, you care about your consumers. You care about your team. You care about your location. You’ve done what the government’s put out. You’ve done what the CDC has put out. You’ve communicated that, and also the consumer assumed the risk by engaging in that business with you.

Again, don’t forget to check out the resource page. I’m going to put this everything else, rachelbrenke.com/COVID. As always ask questions, jump into the Business Bites Podcast group on Facebook. I’ll be in there poking around answering questions as well. And I look forward to us having a seamless integration back into society, hopefully with no issues, no liability problems. And as always, I will talk to you guys soon.

Speaker 1:
Thanks for joining Rachel on this episode of The Business Bites. For show notes, a list of recommended tools, or referenced episodes, you can find them at businessbitespodcast.com. Until next time.

Tools & Resources:

Do you like the pdf checklist included with this bonus episode?  Join the Business Bites Podcast® Facebook Group for more free downloadable checklists and guides!

Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

As a mom, team USA athlete and cancer-survivor, I want a real life while I have a real business.  This is why my resources don’t promote hustle-culture, rather tough-love and no-holds-barred tips to achieving both.  In addition to this website, I have a top-ranked business podcast, been featured in places like Forbes and work 1:1 with so many of you.

Enough about me though. I am proud of you for pursuing entrepreneurship. It is rewarding and amazing.  Keep at it!

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