By Yolanda A. Facio, Business Analyst, Maricopa SBDC
The current business climate is stressful; I understand that you are facing challenges and may have fears about how you will continue to remain profitable in the current crisis. Drawing on my experience running a small business through recession, 9/11, and economic downturns, I’ve put together a list of three things you can do to strengthen your business while faced with the COVID-19 crisis.
- Rethink your current offerings and provide some new ways to generate sales. Are there ways you can take your offerings virtual? Can you provide a discount to clients who book and pay for services in advance? Can you provide delivery options? Many people are currently stuck working remotely and have children to deal with as well, do you offer a service that could help those parents? If you do automotive services, could you provide a pickup and delivery option? Could you switch from catering to meal prep and delivery?
Your customers aren’t the same consumers they were just a week ago. They have changed – they are now working remotely, dealing with kids at home, dealing with college students at home, taking care of elderly parents, juggling more demands on their time and attention. That means you must change as well.
Of course, not every business can pivot during the current crisis, but I encourage you to think about even small ways you can change things up to keep business coming in.
- This is a big one. If you haven’t already sent out an email to your customers, you need to do so as soon as possible. Yes, you are stressed and you want to keep business coming in but your first communication should not be to sell. Instead, do a wellness check-in. Let your customers know that they matter to you, ask them if they need anything, ask them if there are things you could be doing that would be helpful for them, be helpful and concerned. This type of communication will help you build a stronger connection with your existing customers and it will go a long way to more business in the future.
Staying connected with customers keeps you top of mind and right now more is better. Send something helpful and relevant regularly. Twice a week is a good practice currently, it’s enough to show you care and it’s not too much to be annoying. Communication is marketing and you should be marketing with intention right now. If you’ve added new services that are helpful, share them. Don’t expect your customers to have time to surf the internet looking for you.
If you are on social media, use these same communication strategies to show you care and show how you are pivoting to meet and address customer needs.
- Ask for Help.
If you are already working with an SBDC counselor, now is the time to reach out and schedule a call. If you’ve not worked with us before, then click to get signed up. We can provide updates on current programs if you need capital or an emergency loan. We work with lenders small and large which means we can help you find the right fit for your needs. We can help brainstorm your services and work to help you find ways to pivot what you do to fit the needs of consumers right now. We can help with business plans and marketing plans – now is the time to work on updating these.
I’ve recently had conversations with small business owners where we have spent time brainstorming and rethinking how they are doing business today and what they might need in order to do business tomorrow. It has been helpful for them and left them with some new ideas and, most importantly, encouragement.
The Maricopa SBDC is open for business and committed to helping you and your business during this current crisis. Stay Calm and Small Business On!