The shutdowns and economic impact from COVID-19 have had a significant impact on small businesses everywhere including postponing Small Business Week until further notice.
The good news is that in many places small businesses are either able to open, or are getting closer to that point. And that means that it’s time to start strategizing how to maximize sales, giving you the boost you need to start strong and carry on the momentum throughout the year.
In this post, we’re going to take a close look at seven distinct ways you can reopen your small business with resounding success, whenever you’re able to do so.
1. Offer Safe, Delivery-Friendly Services
Even though more and more businesses are reopening, some customers still don’t want to go into a shop with others right now; safety is key. While you may struggle to offer your full extent of products or services, get creative.
Local salons, for example, are thinking outside the box. They offer “color pick-me-ups” right now even while still closed, which can be dropped off at the client’s car outside the salon, and a colorist can walk you through the process at-home over Facetime for an extra fee.
Try to offer free or discounted shipping where possible, and consider curbside pick-ups or drop-offs if it’s an option and safe for your staff.
There will be plenty of people who aren’t ready to venture out even once shelter-in-place orders are over, so offering them new ways to shop from your business can go a long way in keeping your sales up.
2. Announce How You’ll Keep Everyone Safe
Safety is a huge concern for everyone right now, so stressing how you’ll keep your employees and your customers safe is essential. This will earn you goodwill and help you establish trust, which can help customers feel safe enough to do business with you.
A cleaning company in Orlando, for example, has stressed that they’ll have their employees wear masks and wash their hands the second they’re in a new home and that they’ll be using a medical-grade disinfectant.
Other stores are letting their customers know that they’re cleaning the store daily and will have plexiglass barriers between the cashiers and the customers for everyone’s safety.
Some grocery stores offer special hours for seniors or those with disabilities before anyone else comes into the store; others are requiring masks, or limiting the number of people that can enter the building at once.
Figure out how you can keep everyone safe, make an action plan, and share it with everyone so that you’re fresh on their minds.
3. Start Getting In Touch with Customers Early
Do you know for a fact that June 1st you’ll be reopening? Outstanding! Let your customers know, too.
If you work with clients by appointments, start getting everything up and running. Start with clients who had their original appointments canceled, and then go down the waitlist of everyone who has since gotten in touch and tried to book. Let everyone know that these individuals will get priority.
Reach out on social media and through email and always provide them with a business phone number to call for questions. Announce your plans for opening, including when it will be and what’s involved. While doing this, you can encourage customers to get in touch to book appointments or review any new products online before they come in.
4. Offer Pre-Sales & Online Add-On Purchases Now
Want to let customers place orders now, even if you haven’t opened up just yet? Or do you want to drive sales online, even for smaller items?
As long as you let them know that there will be a delay, this can be a great strategy to keep money coming in and keeping your customers engaged.
One and Only Bridal Salon, for example, hasn’t been able to do their standard dress appointments, which means no big sales. They did, however, list their accessories online so that they could still have brides purchasing veils, earrings, and belts.
Offering gift cards is another great option, especially for consumer-facing industries that aren’t able to supply physical products. Again, this is money in your pocket now, and it will keep people coming back to you in the future.
5. Set Up Referral Programs
Referral programs are a great choice for businesses in general. Customers that come through referrals have higher retention rates and purchase more than those who come through other marketing methods.
Most referral programs work by allowing customers to share a link or promo code with friends, family, and peers. If the person they sent your way purchases, the new customer gets a discount (incentivizing them to purchase) and the referrer gets a discount, too.
Referral programs increase customer acquisition at a low cost, and they also incentivize your existing customers to purchase more, too, thanks to that discount.
Fortunately, referral programs are relatively easy to set up. You can learn more about how to do so here.
6. Stay in Touch with Your Customers on Social
You want your customers to remember you, both now and when the craziness has all come to an end (or at least has slowed down a little). It’s important, therefore, to make sure that you’re staying at the forefront of their minds now.
Engage with your audience meaningfully and regularly on multiple social media channels. Share what you’re up to, even if you’re off the clock and in quarantine. Keep people informed about new products and services that you’re excited to offer once you’re back in-store, and make sure that you’re answering questions and responding to comments.
Relationship building should not be underestimated, especially since a large number of consumers want to support small businesses. Focusing on genuine positive interactions can help put you at the top of their list.
7. Create Special Promos & Discounts
A lot of small businesses are struggling. Unfortunately, a lot of consumers are, too. Unemployment rates are unbelievably high. While hopefully once everything starts back up many furloughed employees will get their jobs back, the reality is that there are a lot who may not.
Be mindful of this, and let your customers know that you care about them, too. Offer special promos or discounts.
You can do this in a way that benefits customers and your business at the same time. You could, for example, offer a bundle of products combining high-value, in-demand items with items that may not be as likely to sell right now. A grocery store could create a bundle with toilet paper and just about anything else right now and it would sell.
Offer “first week back” promos, or discounts to consumers who have been patient and waited while you were unable to help them before. Think about what will benefit your team and your customers, and start there.
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop, small businesses and consumers included. While this has been a scary and difficult time for everybody, there’s hope to be had. Consumers all over the country have quickly begun supporting small, local businesses, recognizing them as an anchor of our economy. This means that your customers want to support you, and these seven tips just make it easier for them to do so.