Has your business already been affected by the coronavirus pandemic? Your local small business needs to survive the coronavirus crisis – here are great ideas on how to do exactly that.
I won’t go into everything going on in the world today – many ways of life have already been affected by the virus and it’s all in the news, so I’ll spare you those details.
One thing I will say is that people ARE in fact changing their buying habits due to the coronavirus. We just took a poll (as of 3/16/20) and discovered that over 30% of people voting in that poll are now buying more online and less in person. That’s a MAJOR number, and it’s probably going to get bigger as time goes on! We’ve never seen anything like this in our lives. It is scaring a lot of people. It could even have such a major impact that the way we do business may in fact be changed forever.
So let’s focus on the one thing that you’re most likely concerned about (after yours and your family’s health of course): survival for your local small business. If you’ve got a brick and mortar store, a travel agency, a service business, any business that deals with the public directly, or you do business with a business that deals directly with the public, you’re probably going to see a downturn in that local business – there really isn’t going to be a question of that.
That’s probably a very depressing thought, especially considering EVERYTHING you’ve done to build up your business! But here’s the thing – you can’t let your emotions take over, as difficult as that will be. You can’t be a deer in the headlights – you must take action now to keep your business going. Keep your head up, keep your emotions in check, and do what it takes to survive the crisis. There are steps you can take right now to help you get through this extremely challenging time. The really great thing about owning a SMALL business is that you can make decisions today, and you can implement them today!
As the business owner, it’s up to you to make the TOUGH decisions. So let’s begin thinking outside the box and figure out HOW you can get through this in one piece.
OUTLINE of Steps to Take:
1) Don’t Price Gouge Customers No Matter How Tempting
2) Unsubscribe or Cancel Unnecessary Services and Products (NOT Local)
3) Think Outside the Box For New Ways to Service Current Customers/Clients/Patients
4) Figure Out How What You Sell Could Be Helpful/Useful to People During This Period in Time – and Communicate That
5) Proactively Communicate With Current Clientele Regarding How You Can Help Them and What You’re Doing to Promote Sanitary Conditions/Social Distancing and What You’re Doing to Stay Open (or Re-Open as the Case May Be)
6) Cut Back on Expenses (Deeper Dive)
7) Expand Your Offerings in Relation to Your Current Offerings and the Times
8) Consider New/Different Ways to Market Your Business
9) Become Prepared for Better Times
10) Consider How You are Going to Re-enter the Market
1) Let’s start with a do not. Please please please – for your own good, DO NOT price gouge your customers. You may be tempted, especially for hard to find items, to do this. But – ALWAYS be fair with your customers. Today’s gain will be tomorrow’s loss – guaranteed. Did you read about the brothers that got stuck with 17,000 bottles of Purell hand sanitizer because they tried to price-gouge people when selling it? Here’s that story.
2) Unsubscribe or cancel any services or products that aren’t necessary to survive on, both for your business and personally that are not locally based. You can always get them back later. Try to stick with your local-based businesses as much as possible – they’re in the same need as you. As a matter of fact, try to find MORE ways to buy local. More on cost-cutting ideas later..
3) Look for new ways that you can service your customers – start with the obvious. If you’re a brick and mortar that sells products or services and people now come to you locally, find a way that people can still get your products and services without having to come into the store. Can you set up a delivery service and have people deliver your products? Can you sell your products online, if you aren’t already? Can you set up Zoom meetings with your customers and conduct business virtually?
It probably won’t take much to set up a delivery service if you already have employees. If you don’t have employees (or enough to add this service) you can hire new people to do this. Then you just need to communicate that with your customers. But don’t do things that won’t be profitable, either, unless those things have a really good chance of leading into greater profitability. For example, establish a minimum dollar purchase amount to get the delivery. Institute a deliver charge unless you can absorb the cost – which in many cases won’t be possible.
If you aren’t selling your products online now and they can be delivered somehow, now is the time to set up an e-commerce store. You’ll need help doing that because there’s a lot to it. If you have an employee currently that is good with setting up websites, then you can ask that person. Another possibility is to outsource it to a company like G6 Web Services (more on that below).
4) Put a spin on the things you sell or the way you do business that people will relate more to during this time, if at all possible. Can you relate your products or services to the changing times? It’s not necessarily changing what you sell but the message that can sell them.
5) Proactively communicate with your current customers/clients/patients for 2 reasons – first (and especially for your bigger ones), to see if there’s anything you can do to help THEM through the crisis. Second, let all customers what you’re doing to be socially responsible in your store(s) and in your business practices to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Everything that people touch could be a carrier of the disease. Do you have sanitizer available for people to use? Do you provide a restroom with stocked supplies so people can wash their hands? Do you regularly sanitize door knobs, sink handles, and other things that people touch? What else can you think of that you can do and communicate those things with customers?
6) Cut back on unnecessary expenses. The general public is probably going to cut back on purchases – people are scared of the unknown. That’s why the toilet paper disappeared. That’s why there are long lines at discount warehouses like Costco before they even open! There’s a psychology behind this about having some control in a situation that we have no control over.
If you’ve lived through a recession in business, you know what it’s like. If you haven’t, this is going to be a REAL eye-opener. Here’s the lesson those of us that survived have learned: you must adapt quickly (like the Borg on Star Trek). You’ll need to make some difficult decisions if business slows, such as cutting expenses. But to head this off, you’ll want to start thinking of creative ways to keep people coming to you FIRST AND FOREMOST. Cash is king, and you need ways to preserve what you’ve got so you can continue to operate.
Also on the topic of expenses, cut back on bloat. Anything that is unnecessary in your business that’s costing you money everyday should be eliminated first. Additional expense cutting should not be done until you’re backed into a corner, specifically in regards to your primary employees. Consider your own lifestyle first and make cuts where necessary (yes it’s going to be difficult and painful). Your primary employees are valuable assets in your business and in many cases invaluable. You can always increase your lifestyle when things improve; extremely loyal employees can be really hard to find.
And they’re going to wonder about their job security, especially if they see business is slowing down. Do communicate with them – be transparent and let them know your thoughts. Strategize with them to come up with ways to keep the income flowing. They will probably come up with ideas that you never thought of.
What about advertising? That’s a really good question and one that you know better than anyone what’s best for your business. I would not say to cut out all of your advertising, for sure. However I would definitely re-examine where your dollars are going and either cut back or remove anything that you know for sure hasn’t paid for itself for the last 6 months. If you’re doing something that IS paying off then I would definitely keep it! If you’re investing a dollar and getting back 2, then I would be putting MORE eggs in THAT basket.
7) Expand your offerings to offer people more things they need or want during this difficult time. I’m not necessarily talking about hand sanitizer or toilet paper. Look at other things – think outside the box – what can you do to help people that’s in line with your current business offerings? The more you can help people through this, the better off your business will survive.
8) Consider new ways to market your business. Look at your messaging to prospective customers in your ads and on your website – does it convey the customer benefits, or is it all about you (the first one is what you want!)? What free or reasonably priced marketing avenues are available that you haven’t explored before? Read Guerrilla Marketing books and see if you can add some new ideas to your marketing repertoire.
9) Prepare for the good times. Bad times never last (neither do good times, for that matter). With that said, what can you do now to prepare for when business gets better? Make plans, seek out new suppliers, look at your business processes, products, and services and reflect on how you can improve them, do anything you can to figure out what you can do to come back BIGGER and BETTER than you were before!
10) Consider how you are going to re-enter the market and make plans/take action today. As soon as you get an approval that you have the capability to do that – how are you going to communicate that you’re open to your customers AND what does that mean to your customers? Start on your recovery today! Communicate with employees about your re-opening plans. Communicate with your customers/clients/patients regularly through emails/group or individual texts/phone calls and your website and keep them informed about what you are doing to continue your business..
The entire idea here is to figure out new ways to keep your current business inflow, or even increase it, so you won’t even need to worry about cutting back on expenses. Don’t ignore what’s going on in the world. It’s not going away anytime soon. If you don’t take steps today you may find yourself blindsided by the situation and it won’t be good for you, your employees, or your family. Start now.
G6 Web Services is doing our part in helping small business survive so we are offering to set up an online store for your business at an unheard of price. You can get an online store set up, including the domain name, website hosting, email, and basic e-commerce complete website setup for only $749. This special is good for the months of March and April only. If you’re considering selling your products online, get a free consultation today by calling 602-899-5223. Call today.