As with most of my opinion pieces, this article arose from multiple discussions concerning what clients should be doing during these challenging times. I usually try to avoid showing my age, but experience is sometimes the best teacher. Yes, The COVID-19 pandemic will forever change the business landscape. The question that businesses must ask themselves is whether this is a reason to quarantine their business or to prepare for growth.
During any market shift or downturn, small-to-midsized businesses (SMB’s) are disproportionally affected. Customers are looking for leadership roles, not tactical management. That means looking for businesses that are leading the way more than they are financially sheltering.
Identify Essential Services: What are the services that customers can’t wait for? What are the services you offer that have been determined to be life-sustaining? Roof Leaks, plumbing problems, supply chains, manufacturing, communication, delivery services and more.
Grow Online: Increase your online services and product deliveries. Online scheduling, videos, online conferencing, online orders, delivery services, online coupons w/ long expirations, and hybrid business models. This is different for each industry vertical and needs greater discussion with your marketing team.
Time to Invest: Similar to how financial experts recommend investing at the bottom of the market to maximize returns when markets recover, it’s time to invest in employees, customers and online marketing. The returns will be ten fold when the market recovers instead of potentially not recovering if your competition invested and you did not.
Stay Visible: While your customers are staying home and are online more than ever, DO NOT quarantine your business. Reassure your customers that you will stand the test of time, create waiting lists and notifications of service opportunities. Let your customers know that they are at the top of your list. Communicate, communicate, communicate…
Offer Value Added Services: Everyone is experiencing uncertainty about the future, including your customers. Offer free trials, online learning or simple how to videos. Payment plans, financing offers and low priced options can have a great impact both to the bottom line of your business and the perception of your products and services to your customers.
Stay Current: Customers are experiencing something new and are looking for answers. Someone is going to answer them. Is it you? FAQ’s, articles, search terms… customers want to hire experts. Let everyone know you’re an expert.
Stay On Course: Make a commitment to your employees and customers that “We Are In It To Win It!” Do whatever it takes to generate new business either for today or for 3 months away. Calls, emails, SEO, social… roll those sleeves up and get to work. We will all get through this and those business that are setup for growth will own the market when this passes.