The effects of COVID-19 continue to impact businesses worldwide, and with no end to this health crisis in sight, businesses are left searching for different ways to stay afloat. An economic report done by Yelp shows that by September of last year, more than 97,966 businesses had gone from a temporary shutdown to a permanent one. If you want your business to thrive and successfully make your way through this crisis, here are a few tips to help stabilize your business model and keep your business running.
If you run your business a certain way in the past, it’s time to throw out your old plan and make way for a new one. Create a survival plan for you and your business. The best way to go about this is to start from scratch. Don’t think about trimming right away. Think about redesigning your business. Redesign it in a way that will let you survive these tough times. You’re likely to come across some tough decisions in the process: reducing your staff, removing a slow-moving product, serving customers who can only pay in advance, etc.
It’s better to make these changes all at once rather than one at a time, and once your business starts picking up again, that’s when you can start adding back all the things you’ve taken off. Once you’ve come up with a strategy, put it into action and observe whether or not it works. If it does, don’t change anything. If it doesn’t, adjust as needed.
Engage with Loyal Customers
One of the best things you can do to drive up business and remain viable is to engage with your customers, especially the loyal ones. Find ways to collect their e-mails and phone numbers to help them keep updated with anything new happening in your business. You can put up a digital newsletter that customers can subscribe to or get from take-out and delivery orders (if you own a restaurant). It’s also important to build customer confidence by communicating to your customers that you’re taking the necessary steps in keeping them safe by implementing strict health and safety measures.
Give your customers your utmost attention, and remember to ask for feedback. Doing so will help boost sales and encourage repeat customers.
Maintain Good Relations with Your Partners
It’s good to check with your vendors and suppliers to see how they’re faring in this difficult time. It’s also understandable that you might be struggling to pay them on time, considering the ongoing situation. Just be sure to give your partners sufficient notice regarding any delay in payments. Doing so will prevent any unnecessary rifts in the business relationship and show your partners that you’re concerned for them and not just the services they offer.
Find more creative ways to get consumers’ attention, and you’ll be rewarded for it. Try offering bundle promos for a certain category of customers like students, moms, dads, etc. If you own a restaurant, people are likely getting tired of cooking at home, and they’re looking for a good deal to keep them from cooking their next meal. You can offer special discounts for people in apartment complexes, banks, and other businesses with employees working in the office.
You can also take advantage of outdoor dining by repurposing nearby unused spaces as an extended dining area. You’ll not only follow social distancing rules, but the open-air aspect will make customers feel safer. Be sure to check with your local city guidelines regarding outdoor dining.
Take Advantage of Tech
The right technology can make your business thrive or dive during these times. These days, most businesses have made the transition to digital by utilizing online selling platforms, making online catalogs on their websites that people can order from, or offering online ordering. Some things you can do to take advantage of technology to benefit your business are the following:
- Optimize your website to make a user-friendly online ordering system
- Add your contact information, menu, and operation hours on your website and social media platforms
- Offer contactless payment options
- Implement self-use kiosks
For businesses in retail or the food industry that still accept walk-in customers, upgrade your point of sale system (POS) to a cloud-based one that can run on tablets. Many businesses still rely on Legacy POS. While the new cloud-based option might have just been an advantage for other businesses in the past, it’s now a necessity for businesses to navigate future challenges.
Cloud-based systems include features that can help make your transactions more seamless:
- Inventory Management
- Table Management
- Inventory Management
- Reporting and Analytics
The digital customer experience is the way to go for every kind of business. It can help you gain more loyal customers, and offering a more personalized experience (such as providing offers tailored to users using customer data) will help you gain more information about what your customers like and don’t like.
In these difficult times, we need to help each other in any way we can. There is room for optimism, even now, on the outlook of the industry. Remember, it’s in hardships where we find our best ideas, and this too shall pass.