So you’re running a business during a pandemic…
Now where did that handbook go? The one that tells you how to navigate a crisis on the scale of the COVID-19 outbreak? Oh, that’s right, there isn’t one.
At a time when it feels like the whole world is learning an entirely new way of life, businesses in all sectors are having to restructure the way they do their thing. Dine-in restaurants are ramping up their take out programs, brick-and-mortar retail stores have moved to e-commerce, and learning centers have switched to webinars or video tutorials. In order to keep ourselves and others safe, physical contact must be limited as much as possible. So what does this mean for your business?
Thankfully, there are answers to the questions that may have initially stumped you when state governments began closing offices and limiting business hours. How to stay in contact with your clients? How to keep yourself, your employees, and clients safe? How to pivot when the way you did business before doesn’t quite translate now? We provide some helpful tips below for navigating this weird new world.
Brush up on your social skills
You’re probably not seeing as many people these days as you were a mere month ago. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stay social! If you’ve been putting off exploring Facebook for Business or Instagram Stories, now is the perfect time to learn those tools. If you’re nervous, don’t be: so many folks who’ve been in business for decades are Zooming and Skyping and IGTVing for the very first time this month, and we’ve all seen our fair share of Facetime flubs in the past few weeks. We are in the incredibly unique position of being in the same global boat, watching each other learn new things online and cheering each other on. There’s never been a better time to expand your virtual world and show your clients you’ve got them top-of-mind.
Get your pivot on
From gourmet stores stocking toilet paper to entire factories converting to manufacture ventilators, businesses across the world are altering their services to fit current demands. If you are in a position to do so, brainstorm ways you can help out your community at this time. It can be as simple as collecting canned goods to donate to local food pantries, or dedicating a space on your website to relevant health and safety tips, even if it’s not your business’ forte.
Someday, this will pass. And when it does, businesses across the spectrum will have the opportunity to go back to the way things were, or to move forward with a changed strategy. Perhaps you’ll find that conducting some aspects of your business virtually work quite well; who’s to say you have to give that up? We’re living in the golden age of electronic communication, so if you can swing sending PDF forms instead of paper documents, email newsletters instead of print brochures, and video consultations instead of office visits, you can conserve resources while still serving your clients.
Have your employees' backs
They’re the backbone of your business, and their health, safety, and comfort determines the kind of workplace you have. If an employee is concerned for their or their coworkers’ health and would prefer to/can work from home, make it so. If you can ease the financial burden put on a temporarily-suspended employee, do. Even if it’s just taking the time to thank your staff for showing up and continuing to do their jobs, that gratitude will go a long way in energizing your team.
Take a poll
Now is the perfect time to ask your clients how you can best serve them in less stressful times. Send an e-blast to your client mailing list and ask for feedback—you’ll likely get a lot more than you would during better times. Make it known that any ideas, big or small, are welcome. Not every bit of feedback will be constructive, but any input from your client base will be valuable moving forward.
Clean up your act
Offices empty? Employees working from home? There’s literally never been a better time to do that deep-clean you’ve been meaning to do since spring of 2017. If you typically rely on a cleaning service and can handle the cleaning yourself, pay those workers anyways and tell them to stay home. If you absolutely need their services, make sure you go the extra mile to keep them safe while they’re in your space: vacate the building, provide extra sanitizer, and tip them like it’s a holiday.
Pass it on
Everyone needs a little extra boost these days, even if it’s a kind word or a smile. If you can do more, especially financially, that’s fantastic. There are a lot of people and businesses hurting right now, whether due to layoffs or closures, and are relying solely on donations to stay afloat. If you’re lucky enough to retain patrons through this, pass on your good fortune to someone who could really use it. Consider donating a percentage of your online sales to local independent businesses, relief funds, or nonprofits, or set up a donation program that your clients can contribute to.
We hope these tips help your business navigate these trying times a little more smoothly. We’ll get through this together, and no doubt all come out the other side with new perspectives. If you’re seeking guidance for your business, reach out for more tailored tips—we’re here for you!