6 Steps to Reduce the Coronavirus Disruption to Your Business
Okay, you've heard about yet another event cancellation or another business closed to keep people safe from harm from the largely unknown illness, #Coronavirus and one more store has just run out of basic necessities. The more you hear "don't panic" your blood pressure seems to raise another couple of points.
Although, there are many unknowns when it comes to this particular outbreak, it is a fact that businesses all over the world are being affected. When the effects reach your business will you be prepared? Are your employees safe and protected? Do you have contingency operation plans in place? Have you communicated to your customers the precautions that you have taken?
Take a moment to take a deep breath and take the time to make a plan. Here are 6 steps that you can take today to get you and your business armed and ready and lessen the disruption to you and your business.
6 Steps You Can Take Today:
1. Protect your safety, the safety of your employees and customers first and stay well informed.
2. Keep your customers informed.
4. Don't Isolate entirely.
5. Prepare a customer service plan.
6. Stay productive, keep your sanity.
Protect your safety, the safety of your employees and customers first and stay well informed
As we all know but sometimes forget, we need to care for ourselves first to be strong for others. So getting enough rest, exercise and eating healthy is important now more than ever. Also important is taking time to decompress with your favorite stress reliever. Another way to ease your stress is to make a plan and be prepared. This is a temporary situation and by essentially hunkering down for a relatively short time we are (hopefully) staving off long term issues. Get the latest information by following the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/CDC/ - Remember, you're not alone: the national @Distressline 1-800-985-5990 offers 24/7 emotional support.
Keep your customers informed
Customers need to know whether or not you are open for business, and they need to feel confident that you are keeping their safety and the safety of your employees in mind at all times. One way you can communicate this is by using social media to show customers the precautions that you are taking. Social media is also a way to keep everyone reminded of your services or products and share any incentives or changes in the way you are doing business. Use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, email, your website or whatever channels you use to communicate to your customers. Remember on your Facebook page you can pin your important posts to the top of the page so your visitors will see it as the first post. (You can always change this when information changes or the crisis is over.)
Speaking of any changes in the way you are doing business, finding ways to adapt to challenging situations makes the difference between businesses that survive these trying times and those that don't. Some ideas to adapt your business are to add delivery service, curbside pickup, online shopping, maybe you provide a service that could be conducted through online avenues such as hosting a webinar or organizing live consulting sessions.
Don't Isolate entirely
One of the worst things you can do is isolate yourself. You are not alone. Reaching out to others can be beneficial to you and will be beneficial to other business owners who could use your assistance and support. Keep in contact with other business owners, stay updated with what is happening in your local business community and available support. Your local Chamber of Commerce will be a great resource for this. Another source to find updated business information is the Small Business Administration: https://bit.ly/38Gecpi. On this page, you will also find information on available loans for small business and other programs that may be available to your business. There are also groups on Facebook for business owners that will support your efforts and give you somewhere to go to find others looking for support. For example, The Coachella Valley Think Factory is a place for small business owners and business professionals and those who hustle to support each other through sharing information about doing business. www.facebook.com/groups/CVThinkFactory
Prepare a customer service plan
Your customers will have questions. Having templated responses will make it easier for you and your staff to have accurate and transparent answers consistently. Consider having a few email drafts to respond to questions and requests. If you receive many of the same questions, setting up instant replies on your social media messaging platforms will help you connect with your customers. Provide a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). These can be posted on your website and shared through your social media channels. Talk with your staff to gather a thorough list of questions that people may have and questions that provide information that you want to share.
Stay productive, keep your sanity
You may find yourself with some actual free time. Use it productively. Now is the time to re-evaluate your business plan for the year. Ramp up your social media plans. Update your website. Study that new technique you've been thinking about. Read that inspirational book that sounds really interesting but you've been putting off. Develop a skill to provide a new service. Once the crisis is over you will be positioned to provide better or increased service for your customers! Breathe. Although we don't know for sure how long the crisis will affect us, we do know it is temporary. Lastly, keep in touch with your friends and family. Don't hesitate to ask for guidance, help or support. You'll need their support and they will appreciate yours in return.
Yes, we are in some uncharted waters. With a bit of preparation, you can minimize your stress and the disruption to your business. As a country, as a business community we have banded together and made it through some pretty big challenges in the past and we will make it through this one. Just remember if you have extra be sure to "spare a square" if your neighbor needs it. (Yes, that was indeed a Seinfeld reference.)