“The Survival” Guide for Small Businesses - The Day After Covid-19 Edition
As a small business owner and community leader, there are some things I can’t wait to go back to, like leaving my favorite lunch spot at the local restaurant down the street from our office. Having a video production team come in to do a promotion for our business with our entire team there. Welcoming a dedicated client back into our office for the first time in a long time and seeing their smile light up when they walk through the door. And finally, sitting with my business partner over a drink and hugging him goodbye as we hit the road for the weekend.
These are all things that seem uncertain for when they will happen at this point, but it is essential we hold onto these memories. It would behoove us to be ready for when we can experience these memories again and open our businesses back up. While many people are providing advice on how to survive the current scenario, it’s also important to prepare for after the crisis.
There will be an end to this sci-fi movie, will you be ready for life after COVID and the new normal that will come with it? Here are some quick actionable steps you can take to build a strategy for increasing sales after Coronavirus.
Order Protective Equipment - If you’re open now or not, it’s crucial to prepare for the expectation of added protection for your clients and staff. You’ve probably seen this already at grocery stores with cough screens, gloves, masks, and wiping down of carts. If you’re not open now, it’s time to place your order for protective materials since you’ll need them the minute the quarantine is lifted, the sooner you do this the less time you’ll need to wait as products like these are on backorder. You want your clients and employees to feel you are working hard to protect them. Some businesses that will especially benefit from taking these actions are boutique stores and nail spas. Pharma Central has a lot of the equipment you might need to prepare.
Extensive Cleaning Protocols - Take on a new cleaning protocol for the business as a whole, this could even include pre and post client visit deep cleans. Put these protocols in place and discuss them now with employees and cleaning crews so they are aware of expectations in advance. If you don’t have Standard Operating Procedures already, here is a helpful article with tools on how to develop them. For businesses that have a frequent flow of clients, like a restaurant or entertainment center, it would be advantageous to prepare detailed signage and instructions for the business and even consider creating a drive-through option. Use a local printer, like FastSigns, to make your signs and help a fellow business owner in the process.
Use Video to Share Your Changes - Educate your clients about your actionable steps to protect them and spread the word widely ahead of opening. You can do this by shooting the video on your iPhone now and highlighting your future plans... Or you can contract a professional video production team, like Velocity Videos, to do a higher-level quality video to showcase who you are now and what you’re doing to protect your clients. Burger King recently did this and it directly helped their customer reassurance through brand loyalty.
Create a Content Calendar - Take the next week to build an extensive two-month social media content calendar to ensure you’re active over the next few months. This should incorporate general posts, paid advertising, and planned stories. This will allow you to stay focused on the operations of the business when you open. Some great content to include are the videos you’re creating, exciting stories of coming back, a countdown to the doors reopening, customer spotlights to keep clients engaged, and walk-in specials. This is the perfect opportunity to also develop a loyalty program or offer past client incentives for repeat purchases. If you need help don’t hesitate to hire marketing firms and or do it on your own using tools like Hubspot.
Apply for Funding - Covering the costs of this preparation may seem difficult, but using the government relief funds to re-invest in the future of your business is completely legal. With such low-interest rates on the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), it is truly a unique opportunity to either use the funds to help with an expansion opportunity or to pay for preparations like deep cleans, protective gear, or marketing to help bring in business. If you’ve considered applying but aren’t sure how to do it or what the funds can be used for, there are a number of helpful blogs from the SBA or Equiturn to give you additional important information.
Train Your Team - Doing advanced training for your brand ambassadors or team members prior to opening your doors again will help prepare them for offering the best possible service and answering tough questions. Your team is the backbone of your business and ensuring they feel confident in their evolving workplace. Here are some simple team management tools you can do to educate your team about the transition remotely.
Build an Online and In-Home Service - Start now to transition more of your products and services online through website improvements and advertising. Some businesses may even consider doing delivery when delivery options weren’t offered before or in-home service, like liquor stores or dog washers. If you need an updated website to offer this service, Wix is an amazing resource for this and can offer both online bookings and product sales online.
Develop Strategic Partnerships - Put in the time to source new strategic partnership opportunities to become more appealing to clients and reduce their time out of the home. Even with the ability to leave their homes, clients are still going to want to spend as little time out as possible as things slowly go back to normal. Finding ways to partner with other companies to offer multiple products or services from one place, will motivate clients to come to you. For example, a restaurant and supermarket can develop a partnership that offers take-out food with the option of adding groceries to your pick up.
Order Product Now - A final step that will ensure no delay in service is ordering any products you might sell or need to conduct business now. By placing the orders in advance, you’ll avoid any lags and ensure you’re ready to open your doors on day one. This may also be a great time to set up terms for payment or renegotiate past terms since most businesses, including your suppliers, were affected by this and want you to return for business. The idea of ordering more supplies now when there is a lot of uncertainty may be concerning, but waiting too long will also have its downfalls. American Express has some powerful tips for resetting your terms with clients. This is especially important to retail-based companies like a local pet store or clothing shop.
It is important to not only put your effort into surviving during the quarantine, but also to prepare for the economic boost that will come after COVID-19. Be ahead of the competition and be the place for people to go after this passes. You’ll offer reassurance to your past patrons on day one and capture the excitement of new buyers when all restrictions are lifted. If you need the help to prepare and find the realistic approach you can take, reach out to a strategy or management consulting firm, like Equiturn, to offer you assistance.
I know the concept of our economy revitalizing sounds like a distant dream, but if it is true and comes before you know it, do you want to be at the start of the race or in the dust? By preparing now for later, you will be a true leader not only helping your business come back but also motivating your community that there is a tomorrow and it’s bright!