8 Tips for Helping Your Business Survive the Quarantine
The novel Covid-19 / Coronavirus Pandemic has affected virtually every person on the planet. Entire countries have closed their borders, states are on lock-down, and essentials are scarce. Many businesses have been forced to shut down (either by government regulation or economic situation) and others are limiting their customers so stringently (in accordance with guidelines and recommendations) it can be difficult to make a profit.
As small business owners, this hits us particularly hard. A drastic change in customers can shut us down completely. Even with the government assistance (still in progress as of the date of this blog) the outlook is grim.
But alas! There is hope!
There are several things you can do now to help your business. Using your (socially isolated) time wisely may not be a complete fix for the situation, but it can help ensure your business is open for years to come.
I. (Temporarily) Modify Your Business Structure
Think about your product or service. Is there a way you can offer services remotely? Can you provide curb-side pickup of products? Can you encourage gift card sales to help with future business?
Finding a way to keep your business going – in some way – is critical to your long-term success. This will look different for every business. Here are a few examples of modifications you can make that may sustain sales:
- Offer staggered, individual appointments, so the customer is alone in your office. This will help the customer feel safe in your office while making their purchase or engaging you in services;
- Offer virtual appointments or classes. Online videos, video chat/conferencing, phone appointments, even Google Hangout sessions will allow your customers to engage in your services from home;
- Make detailed video product descriptions. If you have products in-store, or are selling large products, try creating video product descriptions, so the customer can get a better idea of what they’re buying. For large-ticket sales, offer to do a video chat to allow the customer to see products, ask questions, and have their questions visually answered.
- Look into shipping and/or delivery options. If there’s some way to get your product to your customer, do it.
- Sell gift cards or gift certificates for post-pandemic purchases.
II. Communicate with Customers
This is NOT the time to go silent. Take a cue from big retailers and let your customers know how you’re responding to the situation. At a minimum, include the following in your correspondence:
- Acknowledge your company is following the situation closely;
- Discuss your business’ current situation. Are you open or closed? Are you limited to curb-side deliveries? Are you shipping products? Let your customers know;
- Give an overview of what you’re doing to comply with the CDC’s guidelines. Consider a brief description of how you’re ensuring a clean and safe environment for staff and customers. Also consider discussing how you’re helping your staff get through this time (paid leave, shorter hours, extra cleaning supplies, remote work, etc.);
- Reassure your customers that you are a safe and stable business that will weather the storm. (No matter how bleak the situation looks.) Mention your support for the community, dedication to your business’ mission, and commitment to the customer;
- If applicable, you can mention how customers can help you. Don’t simply say “Buy! Buy! Buy!”. Try asking them to support all businesses in your industry when/if they can, and ask them to plan on stopping by for a visit when this is all over;
- Do NOT use this as an opportunity to pitch sales, offers, or discounts. Save that communication for another email and/or post. You’ll appear to be trying to profit from the situation, with may not be portrayed kindly;
- Use a personal closing. This reinforces the fact that you are real people, not a nameless, faceless mega corporation. It aligns you with your customers during a very difficult time for everyone.
III. Mitigate the Damage
The bills don’t stop just because the sales slow down. Everyone is feeling the pressure – in their business lives and their personal lives.
Be proactive about working with your vendors, landlords, service companies, and banks. Reach out to them and find out what programs they have to help during the crisis. Also look into local, state, and national assistance programs to help business owners. More programs are announced daily, so keep checking until you find what you need to sustain your business.
Review your current outgoing expenses, and figure out where you can make temporary cutbacks. Can you turn off unneeded lighting or change the temperature in your facility to save energy? Can you contact your lenders to see if you can pause or defer payments during the crisis? Are there recurring charges you can decrease or eliminate temporarily?
IV. Excel at Meeting CDC Guidelines
But take a moment to think about it… have you set up hand-sanitizer stations in your store? Have you started increasing wipe-downs of door handles, counter tops, and other surfaces? Have you instituted a more regimented cleaning policy?
Determine what solutions suit your business best, and implement them. Be transparent about what you’re doing, and make cleaning a visible (to your customers) part of your day.
V. Work on Marketing your Business
With virtually everyone stuck at home, internet traffic is surging – somewhere between 10-20% so far. And the longer people are at home, the more this may increase.
Now is a GREAT time to engage in some marketing efforts. You can use paid services or DIY methods. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Write and schedule social media posts for the next few weeks or months;
- Create profiles for your business on industry-specific or general business websites, such as Yelp (general) or HealthGrades (industry-specific). Fill out the profiles completely for best results;
- Write a blog (or several) and schedule them to be posted to your website at regular intervals;
- Review your website content for accuracy. Add information if applicable;
- Check your website and social media accounts for inaccurate information, broken links, old pictures, etc., and fix them;
- Create product videos or marketing videos;
- Start a email marketing campaign;
- Create an auto-responder drip campaign for new customers;
- Write content for marketing materials such as flyers, brochures, etc.;
- Review your store’s layout, and see if there’s a way it can be improved;
- Review your checkout or payment process for ways to make it easier.
VI. Work on your Business
Do you remember all that stuff for your business you’ve been putting off because you’re “too busy”? Well, now is the time to dig out that old to-do list, blow off the dust, and get to work.
Every business has things they want to do, need to do, and simply don’t have time to do. Brainstorm a list of things you’ve always wanted to do in your business and dive in. There’s no wrong place to start.
Here are a few ideas:
- Research new products;
- Implement accounting or data collection systems for future use;
- Write employee handbooks and other documents;
- Review and revise “standard” contracts;
- Check your pricing structure, and see where it can be improved;
- Create an online store, if you don’t already have one;
- Organize products and remove old stock;
- Review tax documents to (potentially) identify tax savings;
- Research new health plans and other benefit structures for your employees;
- Look into investing for your business;
- Review your finances and budget. Consider ways to “trim the fat,” and look for areas where spending more may yield increased profits;
- Meet with your employees to discuss their ideas on improving the company;
- Consult with vendors/suppliers to find ways you can work together during the crisis, and ways to increase profits for both of you in the future;
- Prepare and schedule office or store tasks.
VII. De-Stress: Spend Time with Family
As a small business owner, we’re constantly pulled in a hundred different directions… never having the time we want to spend with family.
Now is a great time to spend quality time with family. Regardless of what else is going on, set aside a few hours each day for some quality family time. Play a game, watch a movie, cook dinner together, or just talk. Even though the global situation is tedious, you’ll likely miss this “free time” when it’s gone.
Here are some ideas for what to do during this time at home. Remember, you’re not limited to the indoors. Take a walk outside, discover new plants and insects in your yard, or take a short drive to view the spring foliage just beginning to bloom.
Remember, this situation will come to an end. Realize that this is only a temporary situation, and – eventually – life will return to normal.
VIII. Look for Specials & Deals
Now that you’ve got things on-track and you’re working to improve your business through the shutdowns, keep an eye out for marketing deals and information.
Many businesses are jumping head-first into virtual products – like instructional videos – which may provide a method for you to learn new ways to improve your business. You might also be able to get ideas on new products to sell.
If you have the funds, now might be a great time to stock up on products to sell later, if your business and finances permit it.
Bonus! Beauty & Logic Designs Marketing Sale
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For new & current clients, we’re offering this service for $100 off.
- Press Release Distribution (you do the writing): $250 Now $150
- Press Release Writing & Distribution: $325 Now $225
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Current clients should be in good standing (no overdue or missed payments; if you have a payment plan that is up-to-date, you can take advantage of this offer). There are content and niche restrictions, so contact us if you want more information. Offer expires March 31, 2020.
How Beauty & Logic Designs is Dealing with the Crisis
Beauty & Logic Designs is monitoring the situation closely. As you may know, we do a large portion of our work from home, so the social isolation guidelines won’t affect our services. We’re switching to phone and/or video meetings for clients who want to discuss their projects in-depth. Our remote staff also does most of their work from home. We are checking in with them periodically to make sure they’re handling the situation well.
We’re happy to work with current clients who are struggling during this crisis. We’ll do everything we can to find solutions that work for our clients. We’re a small business as well, and we’re not immune to this crisis… but we’re all in this together. It benefits everyone when businesses work together to get through the current situation. If you need assistance Beauty & Logic Designs invites you to contact us.
Wising you good health and prosperity in this troubled time & beyond.
Cheryl, Beauty & Logic Designs
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