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Someday we are going to reopen.

Someday COVID-19 will subside and we will reopen our parks and courses.  Staff will greet guests and participants. Smiles, laughs, giggles and processing circles full of people will be on your site again. But we aren’t there yet.  To reopen in the future, we believe you will need to take action NOW to allow your organization to weather this storm.  

You will need a plan.  One plan for what you can do right now.  One plan for what you can do internally and in advance of reopening and one plan for what your operation will look like when you do reopen. We call these plans:  near term, in house, public-facing. Before looking at the contents of these plans, let’s examine planning in challenging times.  

Like all plans, this plan will require assumptions. Those assumptions may be a little harder to make and have less certainty in a Pandemic World than they would have if you were looking at next season. It is important to be clear about what assumptions are made and how they can affect your plans.  The uncertainty we have now makes the planning more important than ever. You need to know why you do what you do, what is in your control and what is not in your control. A good planning process can help make those items clear. Remember, organizations that understand their goal, examine their resources, question assumptions, plot strategies, and adjust as new information is learned will be using the same skills we teach in a team building program. This is a challenge you can accept and you can meet.  

Near Term

What can you do right now?  In all of these plans and the actions driven from them, effective, targeted and purposeful communication is key. Here is a partial list of areas you may need to address:

  • Clients

  • Staff

  • Vendors

  • Creditors

  • Suppliers

  • Regulators

  • Insurance Providers

  • Multiple Details Financial Plans

Let’s look at each of these in a bit more detail. 

Your clients are essential to your business.  They are the object of your reason for being in business. Clients who are booked for your course may need some communication.  Articulating a clear and efficient refund or credit policy is important to cultivating goodwill. The way this message is structured will say a lot about who your organization is and what clients remember.  Make sure those who have paid for tickets know your cancellation policy and how they can put the policy to work. Be proactive in assuring them you understand the situation they are in. Working on the tone of the messaging to be supportive and understanding in this challenging time.  It is important to remember we are all having a challenging time.

So often, the staff are the beating heart of your programs and like you they are in a new and unfamiliar world.  They need information and updates to help them cope. Even if all you are telling those keys staff is that you don’t have a solid answer for when you are going to open, letting them know you are working on the plan and thinking about them is important for keeping essential staff.  You could think about how you would want your employer to communicate with you.

In a recent API Huddle, Paul Cummings, Owner of Strategic Adventures and ACCT Board Member stressed the importance of building financial and operational models showing the effects of different opening dates and conditions. These financial models should look at the revenue generated and the expense of different group sizes, seasons and staffing levels.  It is also important to look at your cash resources against the cost of your situation. This is a time to brush off those Excel skills and build some robust spreadsheets. Model the impact of opening on three different dates in your season. Model different groups types and sizes. What would happen to revenue if you had to have half as many people on the course?  Model not being able to open at all. What impact each of these have on your business, staff. After this modeling is done, we strongly suggest careful conversations with banks, creditors, and regulators. Let these people know you are planning and how you expect this event to affect your business. Consider asking how they can modify terms to help you get through this challenge. 

Once the models are created, monitor your situation so you can adjust the models based on new assumptions and new information. Monitoring your assumptions against new information is essential and helps you respond well to changing conditions.

If you are regulated by the state or county, reach out to the regulator and let them know your plans.  Some states have changed the deadlines for permit renewals. If in your conversations, you come across difficulties with regulators please reach out to ACCT Staff for support.  

In House

This area of planning is an opportunity and a response to a new situation.  The new situation may have created space to do tasks you have wanted or needed to do for a while. There is also the response to new situations which will require new training, documentation, and policies.  The list below is just some of the areas you might consider making detailed plans and checklist to assure you are ready when you can reopen.

  • Procedure changes

  • Gear and site cleaning information (see ACCT COVID-19 Response page)

  • Cleaning supplies needed

  • Operational changes

  • Training changes

  • marketing plans for reopening

Look at your practices and see what needs to be adjusted to maintain some social distancing and cleanliness. Look at your modeling and document the procedures which put the models into practice.  If you created a plan for a group of 4 to 5 on your course, what practices and procedures would you have to change? How will you train staff to use the new procedures? Are their cleaning supplies you will need that are not on current planning and check sheets?  A careful evaluation of how you will keep clients and staff safe when you reopen may reveal resources you will need. 

This is also a great time to look at the customer experience and see if there are ways you can be accommodating and empathetic to clients. Take a look at the marketing message and see how this can be adjusted.  How to convince people that it is important and safe to come play at your site will matter when this is all over.

Public-Facing

When people come back to your site, you will need to be clear about what you are doing to protect them and to protect your staff.  You will need a solid, strong, and empathetic message. It is important to remember that we are social animals and we have had a lot of time without our usual social outlets.  We may need to learn some new ways of interacting. People will need some support getting back to a new version of being social animals. The following list shows some of the areas you could consider when looking at your reopening. 

  • Messaging for promotions

  • Staff practices

  • Distancing guidelines

  • Tools for “distancing” when you can’t

  • Mask or NOT MASK?

  • Family Group

  • Cleaning practices

  • Cleaning supplies

  • Staff training

  • How can you do discounts?  

  • How will you collect feedback and adjust your practices

  • How will you document your efforts so you can learn from your attempts?

Looking at all these plans and using the time when you cannot work with clients to assure you are ready to reopen will help get through this strange situation.  

This is a very challenging time.  And now is the time to do careful, well documented planning for your reopening.  Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to get your plans in order for your reopening.  Spotters Ready.


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