Governments around the world have shuttered many of my family member's businesses. To protect citizens from spreading COVID-19, we are disconnecting from each other. These closures mean that all of this is affecting you, your family, and your businesses as well.
This close-to-home closure means that many of you, as well, have been affected by the decisions to close "non-essential" businesses indefinitely. There is a significant sense of grief and panic amongst business owners that their "non-essential" companies are very much essential to them.
In times of doubt, leadership and decisive action are what's needed. Here are five things you can do, regardless of your business model, that will help you combat the economic impact felt around the world and keep your business producing.
1. Increase your service level.
To make any business essential, the first thing to do is to increase the service level you provide your customers. My extended family's businesses include everything from the trades, where plumbers and electricians must be on-site, to salons which depend on in-store visits to keep the lights on.
Now is the perfect time to explore your customer's journey through your business and optimize every step they take. It's time to ask the questions we often neglect when times are good. What would make your customer choose you over another company? What would increase the speed and ease of moving your customers through the buying process? What can you deliver directly to your customer now?
2. Give your customers Choice.
Customer choice has to be at the forefront. To answer the question of "Why would my clients choose me?" You must now look through the questions your clients have asked in the past, and optimize the answers. Become the most knowledgeable service or product provider in your industry.
Becoming an expert in your business is relatively easy, you're already great at your business if you have employees depending on you, it's just a matter of refining every aspect and looking at the big picture with a microscope.
3. Increase the Speed and Ease of transaction.
Increasing the speed and ease of moving through the purchase process is something I have specialized in working with hundreds of start-ups and global brands. Finding clients, marketing to them, having them visit your online store, making a purchase, or scheduling a consultation has to be a seamless flow. For instance, if you run a local business where clients come from a particular city or even a suburb, it makes marketing simpler. Free marketing tactics such as checking the Facebook pages of your competitors and contacting their clients is an excellent way of building a new client base.
Shopify has an excellent point of sale and e-commerce platform that allows you to integrate your e-commerce store (that can sell both products and services) with your brick and mortar store and control your entire inventory from one platform.
4. Deliver your Products or Services.
Yes, it's a no brainer, but many businesses don't realize the extent they can go to provide their products and services to customers. "But I'm an Electrician; my clients don't want me in their homes." Keeping the lights on, the appliances running, and the home or business connected has never been more critical than it is now. More people at home all day can cause much higher wear and tear on devices throughout the house, from switches to furnaces, to air conditioners and appliances. Make your clients see how essential a well functioning home is at these times. Make it crystal clear that you can schedule the times that work for your clients. Make it clear that you are taking the necessary precautions of cleanliness. Make it clear that they can leave their home while you're there because of testimonials proving your trustworthiness.
If you have products, from hair care products to food and toys, make these products available on EVERY platform. From Amazon to Uber Eats, Facebook marketplace, Groupon, Craigslist there are hundreds of platforms which you can post and sell your products, now is the time to optimize all of these platforms.
If you don't know all of the platforms, contact me, and I can guide you through them.
5. Keep in touch.
During the recent economic boom, businesses were incredibly busy, collecting e-mails, phone numbers, and social accounts of customers fell by the wayside. Now is the time to review everything you HAVE collected and fill in the blanks. Entering the information you DO have into a Google search can return most, if not all, of the information you need to keep in touch with your customers.
Be engaging with communication, contacting your customers with a 15% OFF Coronavirus coupon is a BAD move, asking how each and every one of your clients is doing is a GREAT move. Your goal is to build a rapport with your clients like never before. Be there for their rants, be there for their raves, and when things return to some semblance of normal, it will be you that your clients return too.
Even if you haven't contacted a client for years, it's a great time to reconnect, to be the light in the life of people bombarded by bad news day after day. Your goal is to connect, not to sell. When you make a legitimate connection, your lifetime business with this person will be incredibly valuable.
Increase your service, your customers' choices, the speed and ease of transaction, how seamlessly they receive your products and services, and communicate on a deeper level than ever before.