1. Advertise your Sanitation Regimens – Of course, you’re cleaning. You always clean. This isn’t new. Places like gyms and salons already have a pretty strict cleaning plan in place. You know that, but your customers may not! With a virus on the loose and anxieties at an all time high, put your customer’s minds at ease, and advertise how you and your team are going the extra mile to keep a sanitary facility. This also makes for some great social media content, when you’ve been closed and not able to rack up your usual Insta-worthy photos.
2. Be Positive – Stop saying things like, “This uncertain time” and “we hope things are back to normal soon.” We all hope things are back to normal soon, but let’s get real, normal as we know it is gone. Instead of focusing on the negative, show your customers that you are on top of your game. Show them that it doesn’t matter what gets thrown your way, or what obstacle lies before you, you will pivot, you will learn, you will grow, you will prevail. They have trust in you as a small business owner. They have faith in you. We need to have faith in ourselves.
3. Stay in Contact- Use your email list to your advantage! (And if you don’t have one, now is the time to make one!) Don’t be spammy. Inboxes are flooded right now with businesses sharing how they are “handling this situation.” Instead, offer insight. Provide value. Maybe even, talk about something besides the virus. *GASP!* Oh, and lose the formality. If ever, now is the time to be real and let your personality shine through your words. Drop the, “To whom it may concern” and “I regret to inform you.” No more cold, corporate, dialog. (This isn’t even just a COVID-19 tip, but an all the time tip. People want to work with a real person. So be you, be honest, speak from the heart.)
4. Offer a Post COVID Deal- “My business is struggling right now, we can’t afford to offer any discounts.” I hear you. I do. But, get this. What we need right now, especially businesses deemed non-essential, is CASH FLOW! If you make a 20% profit on something, and you offer your customer a 10% off deal, you still made 10% and that is MORE THAN YOU HAD BEFORE! Not to mention, they’ll likely buy something else as well, just by walking in your store. To me, that makes that 10% totally worth it. Plus, they may not have purchased at all had it not have been for your discount. Of course, this is no way to run your business indefinitely, and ultimately, you want to attract buyers who aren’t just ‘looking for a sale’ but can afford your full price and beyond, but offering a little deal to lighten the mood and create some smiles, may be just what the world needs right now.
5. Give Back to the Community – When a global pandemic meets your small business, it’s easy to only think about yourself. It’s natural, don’t feel bad. We’ve all been in “fight or flight” mode for some time now. I think one of the best things we can do upon opening back up again, is to give back to our community. We’ve all been effected by this in some way, and as a small business, it’s ultimately your job to give back to the community in the first place. You provide a service/product that is needed. Go the extra mile to show you care. (Not to mention, this will hopefully bring you some much needed attention and shine a positive light on your company when you need it most. Rule #1: Never turn down free advertisement! 😉 )
6. Have Realistic Expectations- You’re already an entrepreneur or small business owner. If this tells me anything about you, it’s that you’re a risk taker and you aren’t afraid to shoot for the stars. All great qualities if you ask me. With that being said, if you expect to come back from “this” at 100% right off the bat, you may end up feeling disappointed and defeated. Set some goals for your business, and bench marks that you want to meet by certain deadlines, and then work to achieve them. If you do crush them and come back full force just as you were before, that’s excellent. If not though, don’t beat yourself up. Take what you have learned from this experience and use it to ultimately be a better business owner, and a better overall company for your clients and employees.
7. Don’t be Judgmental- If you haven’t noticed by now, everyone, and I mean everyone, has a strong opinion on how this pandemic should be handled. If you take ANY of these tips, let it be this one. ASSURE YOUR CUSTOMERS, that whether they decide to come back and visit you right now or not, due to their own reservations, fears, and concerns, you support them and their decisions 100%. Your top priority has to be their safety and well being. If that means you don’t get paid for another few weeks, then so be it. You have to let your customers know that this is not about money. This is not about you. This is about them. That’s why you started this business in the first place, to serve via the means of a product or service. Without THEM, there is no YOU. Never forget that.
8. Add Something New- We’ve had lots of time off. Unwanted time off of course, and the decision was made for us, but still… time off. What did you do during this time? Show your customers that you were doing more than binge watching tiger shows and at home porch workouts. Add something new to your business. Offer a new product. Change something. Do something “announcement worthy”. Have something AWESOME to say and show when you open back up to the public. Show your customers that you have been using your time wisely, and not only that, but you’ve been using it to offer THEM something fresh and exciting.
9. Be Flexible- All those policies and protocols you worked so hard on and stand by with all your might? Throw those out the window. Now is a time to be understanding and genuine. From credit card companies to mortgage loans, everyone is being flexible right now. Rules are meant to be broken, right? Here’s my take on policies, and the thought process I go through when a customer is asking me to bend the rules for them. #1. If I bend the rules for this one person, will it be in a way that I will ultimately have to do the same for everyone else? If the answer is yes, don’t do it. If the answer is no, ask yourself this next question. #2. If I bend the rules for this one person, will it ultimately be hurting my overall business one year from now. If the answer is yes, don’t do it. If the answer is no, go ahead and make their day. There is a fine line between being understanding and a HUMAN, and allowing people to walk all over you and take advantage of you. If you can accept the return after the deadline, or waive the late fee, and keep a happy customer, I encourage you to do it. It will make a difference in the long run.
10. Prepare Yourself for the Future – Not that this is going to happen again in our lifetime….well hopefully not at least, but let’s make sure that if it does, we are PREPARED! When the Coronavirus is done wreaking havoc on our lives, and we are pushed to “continue as normal as possible” the #1 thing i’m going to do, is to better prepare myself for such an instance. Start a goal of having 3-6 months of bills, payroll, and expenses in a reserve. Work with a business consultant to help you look at your books and get yourself back to a healthy financial state. Work on creating a passive income stream. Work on digitizing a portion of your business, so that if you are mandated to shut down again, you still have a way of bringing in cash flow. If you made it out of this, then congrats, the worst did not happen. But, lets prepare for the worst, should we ever be faced with it.