Forget the Dow, the price of gold or even cash flow. Thanks to COVID-19, it’s hard to predict anything these days. Yet this much is certain: Summer 2020 will look nothing like last summer.
As restrictions ease and consumers venture out again, America’s small businesses will start to come back to life. No, it won’t be life as we knew it. But with the right approach, you can rebuild your business and your community. So how do you ensure a successful summer season?
Keep calm and be flexible
Let’s start with what we do know. Every state, including New Jersey, has imposed strict operating guidelines that impact business strategy on every level, from sales to service. Safety requirements call for limiting foot traffic. Staff and customers must wear masks. Everyone needs to follow social distance rules. Surfaces need to be regularly sanitized.
How do you keep calm and move forward in this strange new normal? Adopt a mindset of flexibility. And be prepared to adapt and adjust – a lot.
As the summer season gets underway, take a moment to re-evaluate your business strategy so you can try to make it easer to plan for the unexpected:
- How do you currently provide your products or services?
- Do you need to make adjustments to maintain quality standards while adhering to safety guidelines?
- Does your existing marketing strategy still work in this current climate?
- Do you need to find new ways to reach customers?
4 ways to drive traffic
As a small business owner, you’re not the only one who needs to adjust to all the unknowns. Your customers do too.
Here are four ways to help customers cut through the confusion in the marketplace and find their way back to your business.
1. Tweak your marketing mix.
What worked yesterday might not work today. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Consider a campaign of short email blasts to announce new hours, products or services. Place an ad in your local paper to recognize your team. Send a press release to local publications celebrating a business milestone. Dial up the excitement on your social media posts. (Remember, a picture is worth 1,000 words.)
2. Simplify online orders.
Do you own a barbershop? Use apps like GenBook or Vagaro to make it easy for customers to book appointments. Do you run a restaurant? Use social media to promote specials and drive online orders. If you don’t already have a website, try BentoBox, which helps small businesses create a web presence and take online orders directly from customers, or Ordrslip, a service that designs an app to work with your point-of-sale system for a flat monthly fee.
3. Set expectations.
Now that customers can visit in person, make sure your staff is aware of any new seating or delivery policies you might have and clearly communicate changes to customers. If you’re a retailer limited to half capacity in your store, you might still want to offer curbside pickup. If you’re a restaurant or café, your seating plans may have changed dramatically. Inform patrons via phone, social media or email of any changes in hours or policies. And remember to keep your message business-like but upbeat and positive.
4. Plan some promotions.
Show customers and prospective clients some love with never-fail promotions like giveaways, discounts and partnerships. Try a BOGO promotion or an unexpected discount on in-season products. If you run a nail salon, consider a discount on quick-win services like manicures or pedicures. Maybe even partner with a retailer known for their summer shoe selection. (Show off that fresh pedi with a pair of new sandals!) And while you’re at it, why not offer a discount to any essential workers who helped keep your business running from mid-March to mid-May. They deserve it!
To succeed this summer, take the time now to develop a strategy tailored for your business and your marketplace. And be ready to adjust it as conditions change. Most of all, keep the lines of communication open with customers and prospects. In times of crisis, it’s the one sure way to stay relevant.
And finally, remember that your banker is your partner! We can help your business run more efficiently with cash management solutions or provide the business loan you need to expand, purchase new equipment or cover everyday operational needs.
Even as we all keep our distance, we’re right by your side! For more ideas to manage your business, check out these blogs: 4 Technology Trends to Get Your Business Back on Track, Cash Management Services to Help Manage Cash Flow During COVID-19 or 4 Scams Your Business Might Not Detect.