Any good business owner understands the necessity of change. The need to adjust their business to match the current environment, competition or customer habits.
Traditionally, these changes happen over weeks or months and they are subtle pivots to day to day operations. The COVID-19 Pandemic, ensuing lockdowns & strain on the economy have changed that process greatly. Companies now have no choice but to adapt as quickly as possible. What may have taken weeks previously, needs to happen in days now. Companies need to be ready to review and adjust processes daily as consumer routines change and new guidelines are released.
Any business that depends on in-person interaction or brick and mortar transactions, is now forced to find new ways to serve their clients. This epidemic has created consumer uncertainty, changes in routines and completely up ended buying habits. As a result, businesses need to focus on pivoting operations and should consider investing in new technologies to adapt to the changing climate. Many businesses will shut down or suspend activities, but some will survive (or even thrive) during outbreak through change and innovation. By pivoting your business practices, changing the way you operate and migrating appropriate functions online, you can preserve your client base and continue to operate until the temporary normal is over.
Businesses that will survive or thrive are considering how they are positioning themselves online and how operations can adapt and improve. They are focused on doing business in a new way to ensure the safety of their employees and customers.
1. Socialize with Social Media
You should be more active on social media than ever before, but not as just an advertising platform.
Social Media is a tool to connect and communicate with your client base and community. Focus on being transparent and authentic while also sharing information about how your business is functioning in this new environment. Share details about your staff, about your passions and about the pride you take in your business. Find ways to engage and interact with your audience and find ways to connect over this shared experience we are all having. Talk about the value of supporting small business and highlight other small businesses that you support.
Honestly, there are a million things you can share but the key is be active throughout this. Choose the social platforms that make sense for your business and get content out to your customers and fans regularly. This will help you stay top of mind, create new opportunities and ensure your customers are still engage when this is over.
2. Leverage the Internet
This is one of the most important and obvious tips I can offer: business is not happening in person right now, which means people cannot come to your storefront to shop, to your restaurant to dine or to your business to meet.
These things must be done online or on the phone. Going online is not a viable option for all businesses, but many companies are finding creative ways to make this happen.
In a lot of cases this will require a major change in the way you do business. For many companies, this will mean adapting to selling products online, doing trainings or seminars online or moving to online ordering & delivery. There are digital solutions available for all of these processes and consumers are quickly shifting to these platforms to fill their needs.
There is no one size fits all solution for doing business online, but we live in an ever-increasing digital world and people (especially now) are going online to communicate, make purchases and do businesses. Everyone understands that, for now, things work differently and businesses that are ready to be creative with how they function are going to have the best chance of being viable through this.
3. Online Ordering & No-Touch Transactions
Online tools offer a lot in the way of touchless transactions, but the subject is much larger than that.
Touchless transactions, no contact deliveries and social distancing are all elements you should consider when doing business today. These efforts are to protect your employees and your customers and serve as a way to show clients the steps you are taking to keep them safe.
You need to look at your business and consider how these processes can be applied. Online ordering coupled with no contact deliveries is a great solution for many companies. This allows companies to process orders online and deliver to a customer’s doorstep while adhering strictly to social distancing. If you are offering a service and taking payment in person you may consider touchless payments, allowing customers to pay from their phone opposed to your device. There are amazing solutions for all of these processes that should be considered.
If you have an essential business that still receives foot traffic, you should consider ways to enforce social distancing like markers on the floor separated by six feet increments or appointment times to control the foot traffic. Again, these are not one size fits all solutions, but you should consider ways that this can apply to your business and execute in any form possible.
4. Communicate your Efforts
It is important to tell people how you are responding to this situation and how it is changing aspects of your business.
You should actively be sharing changes in hours, staff availability or operations. Most importantly, you should be communicating how you are protecting your clients and employees.
If you are taking the right steps, communicating those steps should be obvious and straightforward. Equally as important is how you share this info. Should it be communicated in an email, on your website, social media or local listings? Should it be done over the phone? The answer varies from business to business….
First off, I would be cautious to send it by email. I am getting several emails every day about how companies are responding to this situation. Many of these emails are from companies I do not work with or have not thought about in years. At a certain point these notifications feel like spam or worse, unnecessary advertisements guised as COVID-19 updates.
If you work with a customer actively and changes in your services will disrupt a person’s day to day life, you should consider email, text or a phone call. Otherwise I would advise against it. What you should do is make sure they see the message when they are looking for you. Put updates on your social media accounts, add a small banner to the header of your website and adjust hours and other pertinent information in your local listings. Make sure they find the answers they need when they are looking for you. Be relevant, not obtrusive.
5. Plan for Change
This goes without saying but be ready for a rough road ahead and be prepared to adapt and react to situations.
Understand that your customers are going to interact with you differently, that stress levels are higher than usual and people’s buying habits are less predictable than ever before.
Expect your business to work differently and realign your goals with the current climate. Figure out how your clients are functioning today and what is important to them. Then find creative ways to be the solution they are looking for today.
Most of all, focus on helping people through all this uncertainty. Make sure your product or service is the best out there and be flexible with how people want to interact with you. Make your primary goal to help people and make sure your business practices reflect that goal.
Is Your Business Struggling Through COVID19?
If you read this article and are interested in brainstorming on how your business can adapt feel free to reach out to me. You can contact me on Facebook or directly through our site. I am not suggesting a sales meeting, I am legitimately open to brainstorming to help your business through these tough times. This situation is hard and if my experience can help, then I will make myself available.
Small businesses should actively be looking out for each other now more than ever.