Guest blog: Advice for reopening business from Tim’s Automotive and Towing

Blog post by Pat McElroy

Pat McElroy is the President of Tim’s Automotive and Towing. Prior to working at Tim’s, McElroy was the VP of human resources and organizational development at a property management company. McElroy has a master’s degree in Organizational Development from Johns Hopkins University.

Transitioning back to normal operations after a global pandemic is undoubtedly one of the most challenging things we have faced as small business owners.  However, as our operation works through these challenges, I have accumulated recommendations for my fellow small business owners who may need additional support as we navigate this unprecedented crisis together.

One of the most important things to understand and accept when transitioning back into “normal” operations is that life is not going to go back to what it was. The same practices a business owner used in the past may not be enough to take them into the future. Revenue sources, financial planning, technology, HR policies and procedures will have to change to fit the current state of the economy.

As mentors for many fellow small business owners, the first step we recommend is to come up with a transition plan. Questions to consider are:

It is also important for us all to ease back into normal business, instead of rushing it, so that it can be sustainable and successful.

An evaluation of how you survived could also be administered to your team, as we are doing at Tim’s Automotive and Towing. You could send a survey with questions such as:

Another item you should consider is implementing pandemic and/or general crisis response guidelines in your employer/employee handbook.  It will be critically important for us to learn from this experience—our triumphs and failures—so that we can be prepared should it occur again.

At our business, we have created a pandemic review document to administer to our management team. Categories listed on it include: information/technology, building structure, safety policies and procedures, revenue sources/streams, accounting plans, staffing, HR policies and procedures, marketing strategy, automotive/towing parts/ inventory, customer service programs, and an overall evaluation. Under each category except for the overall evaluation, there are two boxes listed: one for successes and one labeled “needed in the future.” Our pandemic operations review sheet can be used as an example for companies looking to take the same approach towards moving forward beyond COVID-19.

While the transition is indeed challenging, it is important to be proud of surviving an event like this. It is also important to maintain the culture and mission of your organization, while you adapt to the current norms.

Please email Kimberly Reach at if you would like to get in contact with Pat McElroy or Tim Bonner.

Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.

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