How to adapt your business during the COVID-19 crisis
The current coronavirus pandemic is forcing businesses, big and small, to adapt. The temporary closure of brick-and-mortar stores and restaurants provides a real challenge for business owners.
However, a number of businesses are providing great inspiration by thinking of new ways to evolve and continue trading throughout the outbreak. We’ve collected some of these examples to highlight achievable steps you can take right now to tackle the COVID-19 challenge.
Traditional delivery services are of course nothing new. However, a number of businesses have become creative in how they’re offering their products to customers who are self isolating at home and unable to visit stores or restaurants. Small businesses can adapt their products to make them suitable for takeaway, from offering meals and food packages, to cook-at-home food kits with recipes. And, this concept doesn’t just apply to the gastronomy industry. Craft centers can put together sew/paint/mould kits to mail to customers, and retail stores can use social media to advertise and even sell items.
Getting your businesses delivery-ready involves more than just arranging the logistics. Make sure the experience is as smooth as possible for potential buyers by walking through the steps they would take themselves; is your company simple to find, is a delivery option easy to spot, are your products adapted to being sent, used or made at home? Once you’re happy with the process, you’re good to go.
Seize online opportunities
As mentioned above, being online is essential during this time. With the very limited (if any) possibility for people to even walk past your restaurant or store on the street, having an online presence is really the only way you can promote your services and stay in touch with your customers. As well as having up-to-date social media profiles, your company website should also be easy-to-use and attractive.
And, while getting your business online is a necessity during this crisis, it can also be seen as a real opportunity. Depending on the nature of your business, you can look into ways to adapt what you offer into internet-friendly services. Gyms and health companies, for example, can instead offer online workout or nutrition classes.
Similarly, a jewelry store or furniture shop can offer tutorials and webinars to house-bound clients. Cafes and restaurants can also show cook-along videos, and bars and pubs can look into offering virtual pub quizzes or parties.
Plan for the future
Preparing for the time when you can open your store or restaurant and get back to regular business again is a great way to use this period of uncertainty. To keep revenue coming in while you’re seeing fewer customers and, therefore, fewer sales, you can offer people the option to pay forward for certain services.
This can be in a simple form, by offering customers vouchers so that they can support you now, but redeem for products or services in the future. Gift certificates are also a good option to advertise at this time. You could think of bundles to offer for particular holidays that people can pre-book or reserve in advance and be given a gift certificate to send to their loved one as a physical item in anticipation.
Additionally, look into product launches or menu changes that have had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and turn them into a pre-order opportunity. Use social media and your existing customer network to create some buzz around these launches and give people a chance to pay in advance and then look forward to the official release.
Staying connected to your local community and supporting in whichever ways you can is essential during this challenging time. Not only does contributing to a combined effort really go a long way in helping vulnerable people, it can also provide a great support network for you and your business.
Research initiatives and publications that are sharing and highlighting how your local network is adapting during this time. You can then contribute by sharing how your business is acting, be it with new digital products and services, or by offering gift certificates and vouchers.
It’s also important to look into how you yourself can contribute, as well. Make sure you try to support fellow businesspeople in your area by shopping locally and promoting their businesses on your social channels, where possible. If you have the resources to, you can look to the businesses who are also working with their local authorities to adapt their services into making products that are in high demand across the company. For example, some alcohol production businesses are now producing sanitiser, and a number of clothing stores have adapted to produce masks instead.
Motivate your workforce
If you've temporarily closed your brick-and-mortar business due to the current restrictions, and you also have a number of employees working virtually, it’s important to put a clear remote working policy in place. This includes ensuring that your staff are equipped with the tools to continue doing their jobs, or their alternative, new tasks, if the focus has changed due to the crisis. Hardware and electrical equipment is one thing to consider, but also think about digital tools and software to make the move to home office working as seamless as possible.
Encourage employees who are working remotely to set up a space in their home that is solely dedicated to work. And, try to keep motivation high by making sure there are clear communication channels which you use to check in on a regular basis.
For many businesses, given the uncertainty of this time and the nature of the business, it may not be possible to set up your workforce to continue working remotely. However, there are certain initiatives being rolled out by the government to keep the jobs of your employees safe. During this period, you can also encourage your employees to get creative in terms of how the business can adapt and change. Maybe give some of your staff ownership of a certain communication channel on social media or of a customer newsletter.
Hopefully these tips can provide you with some inspiration and the tools to adapt to the new challenge we’re facing at the moment. Over the next few weeks we’ll continue to publish articles with easy-to-implement advice that businesses can follow to get through this time. We will also keep you up-to-date with other company-wide initiatives that we’re working on to try to ease some of the pressure you’re currently under. Keep an eye on our blog for further information.
If you have any ideas or feedback, or you would like to share how your business is adapting with new initiatives in order to give inspiration to others, don't hesitate to write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org.