We are not going to sugarcoat it … Now that companies have gotten the green light to open their businesses after months’ long shutdowns, it is a rat race out there. Both service- and product-based businesses are trying to make up for lost time by offering steep discounts, enticing offers and over-the-top customer service in an attempt to make up for lost time. While trying to attract business in these ways is not necessarily wrong, it is a short-sighted approach that will yield short-term results. If you want to rebuild your business in a sustainable way, your approach to reopening needs to involve a little more strategy than simply promising lower prices.
Of course, the outlook for every business during this pandemic is going to look slightly different, as is the strategy for navigating the new normal. However, based on the advice of several experts, there are a few steps every reopening plan should have in common.
Assess the Damage
Before you can begin to rebuild, you need to know how badly your business has been affected. While you may be scared to assess the damage, it may be possible that you were not hit as hard as you might think. Start by crunching the numbers. Review your profit and loss statements from the past couple of months and compare them to last year’s. How much lost time do you have to make up for?
In addition to assessing the numbers, consider other ways your business was affected. Did you have to let employees go during the shutdowns? Did a cut in your marketing budget causing you to lose business to competitors who continued to stay relevant during the closures? By assessing the entirety of the damage, you can begin to draft a roadmap to get back on track.
Reevaluate Your Business Plan
COVID-19 has irreparably altered the business landscape. Tools, practices, and procedures businesses relied on pre-COVID days may no longer cut it. In some cases, returning to the old normal may hurt brands.
The most cost-efficient and effective thing you can do is to create a detailed reopening plan that prioritizes your recovery options segment by segment, customer by customer and product by product. Use this plan to guide your production, marketing, sales efforts, and supply chain and to determine a recovery timeline and cost for your business.
Develop Safety Procedures and Communicate Them Effectively.
As the world slowly begins to reopen, consumers are bound to be more vigilant than ever about cleanliness, and to expect more from the brands they do business within terms of safety. To appeal to this new customer persona, develop safety and cleaning procedures that not only meet state recommendations but also, that exceed industry standards.
Once you have a solid safety plan in place, communicate it to your customers. While it does not hurt to post your new guidelines on your door, give customers a reason to want to choose your business over competitors. Post to social media, write a blog detailing what you plan to do to give customers peace of mind and send out a newsletter explaining that you’re open, but that you’ll be doing things a bit differently. Proactively communicate about measures you have and plan to implement, whether they directly affect your customers or not.
People have been eager to spend their money during the shutdowns, but now that the world is reopening, they are not sure who to spend it with, or on what. While many consumers were willing to drop $100 on going out to eat pre-COVID, job loss, layoffs and cutbacks may have many now wondering if $100 on a single meal is over the top. Before the shutdowns, most people would not think twice about paying $30 for a gym membership, but after working out for two months on their own, they realize that $30 can be better spent elsewhere.
Do not let your products or services become something consumers feel they can live without. Revive demand by reminding your customers why they loved you in the first place. Do not sell the product or service itself but rather, sell the benefits. Do this through social media content, blog writing, email newsletters and other means.
Update Your IT Infrastructure to Meet Emerging Expectations
It was clear almost from the get-go that online sales would skyrocket during the closures, but data from Asia reveals that the trend is sure to continue long after the world reopens its doors. Businesses need to be prepared.
Your business needs a digital presence that is secure, relevant, reliable, and capable of keeping up with consumer expectations. For many businesses, developing a digital sales platform that accomplishes these goals is going to be a challenge, especially if their pre-COVID website consisted of little more than a home page and company bio.
Of course, this guide only scratches the surface of what you need to do to reopen and revive your business post-COVID-19 closures. However, it also touches on the most affordable ways to do so, which is what the majority of small businesses need these days — affordable ways to get their businesses back on track.
Though our team cannot help you assess the damage or revisit your business plan, we can help with everything else. From communicating with your customers to reviving demand to developing an ecommerce site designed to support that demand, SonicSEO has the know-how and resources to help you stay competitive as we navigate the new normal.