If your business is facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. Most businesses are facing the same challenges as you are like reduced staffing, business slowdown, and cash flow. Don’t let panic set in, it is very tempting for businesses to start cutting spending across the board, after-all that does make sense on the surface, but contracting in the wrong places is a bad strategy for recovery.
Businesses that make strategic changes and shift a focus to growth strategies for the upcoming economic recovery will rebound faster and higher than competitors that simply hunker down and weather the storm.
Take advantage of down-time as an opportunity to improve your sales processes, website content, marketing collateral, website design, communication channels, skills and more. By doing so you can position your business to hit the ground running once the economy improves while the competition is just starting to crawl out of their economic slumber.
Adapt to Change, Deliver Your Service Differently
If customers aren’t coming through the door, bring your services to them. Since the beginning of COVID-19, companies have been coming up with creative ways to adapt to the changing restrictions and challenges.
- Retail stores have set up online ordering, curbside pick-up, and delivery services to bring service to the customer.
- Gyms, personal trainers and coaches have live-streamed classes, posted daily workouts and goals and created an online community with social channels.
- Bakeries and restaurants have pivoted to delivering cooking classes online, ready to heat meals and even produce.
- Medical professionals have embraced face-time and video conferencing apps to continue sessions, the list goes on.
If you offer a product or service, think about how you can deliver it differently. You have a unique opportunity to interact with new and existing customers on such a different level. You can create brand ambassadors, boosted customer loyalty, get wide-spread exposure that you could have never received before, and maybe this new method of delivery can be another revenue stream you can adopt going forward.
Contract Where it Counts
Businesses should make strategic decisions when considering what expenses can be scaled back. It is a good idea to look at your accounting and make cost savings to free up cash flow to add a financial cushion, to bump up advertising or make an investment.
Stopping advertising or canceling services that provide a revenue stream can just compound the problem, consider scaling back the little things that add up, services you won’t be using while closed and monthly subscriptions you can do without. Here are a few things you can do to save some money.
- Not in the office? Consider dropping your internet plan down or dropping it completely, and/or ditching TV service. Many providers let you pause your account. Just make sure you don’t need the internet for your alarm service.
- If you’re not going to be in the office, lower the heat significantly, your office furniture won’t mind. Turn off and unplug things that draw electricity. If staffing is reduced, lower zones where no employees are working.
- Do you currently have any software subscriptions? Cancel subscriptions for employees that are laid off, and call to see if you can get a reduced rate for the active subscriptions. Some providers like Adobe are currently giving 2 months free service.
- Consider going virtual with your phones or VOIP. This can cut your phone plan in half and can give you more flexibility. Providers like Ooma and Grasshopper are easy and affordable.
- Look at your insurance rates, deductibles, etc. saving 15-20% on your insurance is a no-brainer, just as long as you aren’t reducing coverage. You also could be missing out on discounts for having an alarm system or integrated fire, never hurts to ask.
- Re-structure fixed debts. The SBA is helping businesses with disaster relief loans and may be able to help with lowering interest rates and monthly payments.
Improve Your Sales Process
If you are seeing downtime, take that time to work on your sales process. Improving your closing rate or customer acquisition is the best way to improve your return on ad spend (ROAS).
Start by knowing and understanding what makes your product or service unique and why customers should choose you and not a competitor. Use this as an advantage and make sure that’s a major part of your sales pitch. If you don’t have anything that makes you special, now is the time to figure that out.
- Improve the whole onboarding process, streamline it, and make it easier for customers to spend money.
- A pizza shop could add online ordering or offer more combos to their menu to boost average order value.
- A kitchen cabinet maker could simplify the options, shorten the sales cycle and focus on the most profitable combinations.
- The home improvement company can simplify their contract and combine steps to make the signing faster and less intimidating.
Improve Your Brand & Content
Use a slower sales time to work on content, including blog posts, website content, social media branding, sales material and more. Many businesses never update their website, never review their social media information or Google My Business listings, this neglect creates a stale brand and outdated information slows sales.
- Write blog posts that solve your customer’s problems, create a list of ideas for multiple posts, and start writing so you can have content ready to go each month.
- Relook at your website content, make sure it is easy to understand, simplify it for readers on mobile phones and make sure you have a clear call to action.
- Update your sales brochures to match your current offerings and to modernize the imagery/graphics.
- Update that old social media cover photo and re-look at your business information.
Have you been thinking about adding ecommerce to your website for local pickup or national sales? Maybe a website re-design or it’s finally time to implement that new sales CRM. Improving and adopting new technology for your business can streamline sales, automate and improve customer acquisition and boost your bottom line.
- Now would be the perfect time for that website redesign. Start the planning and content changes while you have the time to focus on it.
- Bring your business online, this is more important than ever and people are embracing local online ordering, local pickup, and delivery.
- Consider adding a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) to keep track of sales leads, don’t let your valuable sales leads fall through the cracks, set reminders, create deals and more.
Work on Communication
Right now especially, working on your messaging and communication can position you to be more competitive. People like companies that care, they want to see that you not only are willing to work towards solving a problem together but that you are a responsible company to your employees and generous to your customers. Companies that show they have a genuine heart will be the companies customers will be looking to switch to.
- Make sure you are communicating through social channels letting people know how your business is here to help.
- Send emails to your customers to let them know your hours, about special COVID-19 programs and how you are helping your employees.
- Don’t have a Chat-bot, think about how automation can help fill in when staffing is reduced by answering frequently asked questions.
- Upgrade your phone systems with something that lets you easily work from our cell phone and easily switch back to the office or push calls.
Grow Skills & Level Up
Take advantage of the down-time to learn new skills and improve on your existing skillset. By learning new things, you will be able to offer new services to clients, and by expanding your current skills you can provide more expertise and value to your current customers.
- Obtain new certifications and showcase your newly acquired credentials on your profiles and on your website.
- Learn new skills and offer them as part of a service or use those new skills to make a new product.
- Train on new equipment that you can use to make more money or save time and improve margins.
- Level up your software or technical skills so you can bring services in-house.
- Listen to podcasts or read/listen to books on marketing, sales, and your industry.
Physical & Mental Health
If you had to choose one thing to work on improving, your overall health and wellbeing would be the number one thing you could do to improve your business.
You are the pulse of your business, taking the time to build mental agility and strengthen your body can improve well being and mental focus. Take advantage of not having to commute and use that time to begin exercising, preparing healthy meals and take time to take care of you.
- Don’t fall out of a routine, just because you don’t have an hour commute doesn’t mean you should stay in bed longer.
- Take the extra time to add 30 minutes or more of exercise each day.
- Prepare home-cooked meals and skip the take-out
- Take the time to spend time on a hobby, reading or other self-time.
- Focus on quality time, whether that’s family game night with the kids, Netflix with your partner or playing tug of war with your dog.
You may not have enough time to do everything above, but whatever you find time to do will be well worth it. Start with a balanced approach, working on things for future growth and those items that could have an immediate impact. By the time the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, and the economic rebound begins, both you personally and your business will be ahead of your competition on so many levels.