A Christmas Tree. Picture: Supplied
A Christmas Tree. Picture: Supplied

How businesses can navigate through the 4th wave during the festive period

By Time of article published Dec 4, 2021

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By Devan Moonsamy

In light of recent discovery of a new variant of Covid-19 in South Africa, businesses might be panicking as the dreaded 4th wave grows momentum. Plans for an economic recovery during the festive period, which seemed possible as vaccination roll outs indicated an improvement in the management of the virus, have been met with dread.

With the uncertainty around what to expect in the coming days, shelves being packed expecting an influx of consumers as well as staff anticipating an increase in revenue with the slight chance of a bonus, the festive period might have lost its cheer in South Africa.

The reality is that the rumours or prediction around the possibility of a 4th wave might have made way for a plan of action to combat a possibility of a stricter lockdown or change in operation plan. But if you have not planned for this then here are a few ways to get ahead of the wave and try to control the impact on your business.

Don’t panic. The new variant discovery is not in your control, as is the decisions to be taken from this by the government. Your staff might also be feeling the pressure now that cases are growing and the panic might be felt at the ground level with client facing staff members. Before meeting with staff and discussing the way forward, have an idea of what would be the best suited solution for your business. Sit down with your management teams and come up with a plan to ensure that the festive period sales still go ahead as planned but look at creative ways to get goods to clients.

When there are more positive cases of the virus then people are encouraged to shop online instead of going out to limit contact between people. If this does become the case under new lock down regulations, you should have a plan to keep the business going. If you don’t have a website for your business, it would be a great place to start. Having an online forum allows for your customers to shop from the convenience of their home. If you fear that your customers might not have access to an online platform to place their orders, then have a call and order system. This way people would still be able to get the deals you have to offer without needing to leave their homes.

Using an online system or a manual system that is taking calls or messages around orders requires training. Ensure if this is the decision you take to keep your business going, that your staff is trained and capable to manage this process. It means sending communication when stock isn’t available, having a good turnaround time with orders being received and processed and most importantly efficiency in customer service. Promote this vigorously and this might be the answer to your concern around the stock you have on your shelves.

Another concern around operations during the festive period might be the hesitation from staff around vaccinations. If there are still concerns around this then it could be time for a discussion around vaccinations. Many service providers are in a fix when their clients request vaccinated members to perform services. This means only vaccinated staff might be at the forefront of placements. What happens to those that are not vaccinated? This doesn’t mean that they are out of a job, but what it does mean is that there will challenges for placing them. Perhaps an incentive can be offered to staff who get vaccinated to motivate them. This way you can have a team of vaccinated individuals that will be able to work and provide services.

This is not the time to compromise on any PPE. Ensure staff are always masked up, screened at the entrance and sanitised in the office. It would do well to reintroduce the Covid-19 policies and have a meeting around what to do if one shows symptoms. This is a crucial time for the business and having to shut down for a period of time due to a number of cases in the building could prove to be a problem in light of the peak period. Maintaining all necessary Covid-19 protocols and taking the necessary precautions might be the only way to keep the number of causalities low as we wait to ride out the 4th wave.

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African TVET College.

*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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