3 Steps To "Getting Back To Business"

A guide to help you prepare to reopen after lock-down

As business owners we all need some guidance from time to time, here is my 3-Step Guide To Returning Back To Business after lockdown.

I like to think that we fall into one of three animal categories – the fox, ostrich and the flock of sheep.

Myself, I’m a fox – optimistic, dramatic, charismatic and influential. Throughout the pandemic, I have continued to work in one way or another fulltime, be it self-improvement, voluntary work, spending my time building a new business, piling on through making the most of what we have, but mainly doing anything to keep my hands busy.  Helping like-minded foxes with collaborations and tending the flock (business owners focusing on maintaining and growing their own established business), helping to guide them along the right path. 

But what about the ostriches? I hear you say. Unfortunately, they are standing still with their heads buried in the sand hoping that the entire world will return to the way it was pre-COVID-19, choosing to spend the complete lockdown sat down either sunbathing or playing on the Xbox and watching Netflix. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and if you can’t help yourself, then all I can say is “thank you for YOUR BUSINESS” as your customers look in other directions. 

“Those who can’t, can, and those who can, do. But those who won’t, don’t.”

This blog is for you, the “doer’s” among us, whether you be a fox, or one of the flock of sheep of which they are many, following the revised guidelines continuously, moving in one direction to the next, jumping through one governmental advisory hoop to the next, but don’t fear, you are not alone, and sometimes all we need to do is stop, take a moment and clear our thoughts to take stock of our surroundings.

Moving forward we need to be prepared for reopening business which is why I have developed this clear and defined reopening marketing strategy for you, to help you prepare and make the transition from closed to open for business as smooth as possible.

Three Step Approach

Should you reopen? A simple question on the face of it, digging deeper there are all sorts of considerations to take to prevent yourself from opening up one day, and closing shop the next.

Things to consider when shouting from the rooftops

Compare the old customer persona with the new persona.

Step One – Should you reopen?

There is no right or wrong answer to this, we are in uncharted territory at the moment, and the only thing we can do is to assess and plan. If you open now, will you be able to stay open the next day, and the day after that?

Do you have the resources and contingencies in place for most if not all known eventualities and possibilities? Do you have stock in place? Do you have the staff to open, taking into account any changes to opening and closing times and enhanced cleaning schedules.

You may have noticed this past week that chicken isn’t as abundant on the supermarket shelves compared to previous weeks, maybe it’s got something to do with the largest chicken supplier to several major supermarket chains had to shut up shop for a week to deep cleanse due to a significant outbreak of CV-19 amongst its staff, (That American chlorinated chicken doesn’t sound too bad at the moment) and let us not forget about the big KFC scandal the other year when they ran out of chicken due to supply issue – or rather lack of contingencies and poor management.

What plans do you have in place if your leading supplier shuts up shop tomorrow?

Review the current COVID-19 safety guidelines. Can you maintain customer and staff safety? How are you going to support the social distancing requirements, not just between customers but also between staff members and customer/staff distances? What limits are you going to have in place regarding the number of people on the premises? Do you have to set up an appointment system and if so, how? Online, telephone booking? Will you be switching to cashless payments? Do you have the facilities to change to cashless and what happens if the system fails as it tends to from time to time?

Consider how you intend to communicate the business changes to customers and staff. A thriving business at the moment is the signwriters and graphic designers, producing infographics and safety signs which can be applied to different areas and virtually anywhere for clear directions to your customers; notices, floor signs, distance markers and placards.

Produce a checklist, using the above for inspiration. No business is identical, with no two the same, but there will be plenty of similarities between impact and solution. Involve your staff when creating the checklist and prepare ready-to-share answers for questions which customer-facing staff members may encounter.

Step Two – Announcing Your Open

Okay, step one covered, everything in place. All that’s left is to fling open the doors and wait for the customers to file in, as Kevin Costner once heard a corn plant say “If you build it, he will come”, as business owners we know that it is not that simple. You could have a unique shop, a perfect website, but unless you shout about it and get it in front of your customers – you’re on a slippery path to failure.

Website – You’ve had months to get around to updating the site, but now is the time you need to pull the finger out and get it done if you can’t afford to spend time on the website or lacking the know-how, then farm it out to those who can. Twisted Spire does some great payment options to help spread the cost. Show your customers you are bouncing back with grit and determination to succeed, make sure you update any changes you have in place and any changes to opening times.

Update your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) at all other online locations such as social media profiles, Google Business Page and any other links generated for your pages SEO.

Connect with your existing and desired audience via social media and an email campaign, let those who know you that you are reopening. Entice them to your premises with offers, promotions, or competitions. Ask those who haven’t yet, to leave you a positive review. Don’t just ask and expect them to do it, because they won’t. Do the leg work and send them a link to click and submit.  

When I last moved house I employed a man-and-van to assist, on completion as I was counting out the cash he handed me a feedback review card for ‘Which? Trusted Trader‘, rather than handing it over, he offered to post it for me as long as I completed it there and then whilst he was writing out a receipt. I had to smile and fill out the perfectly executed “get your customer to leave a review”.

Step Three – Know Your Customers

Peoples perspectives have changed since pre-lockdown, you may have the same customers, but those same customers now have an entirely different persona, how they buy, what they buy, the number of items, how they pay for things and even how they pack their shopping.

Its time to get back to basics, re-write your ideal customer persona and compare it with the previous. Is it even the same person? How much have you changed since before the pandemic?

If you need help with identifying your customer, perhaps need a quick refresher, check out Plan-Grow-Do delivered by Rob Taylor and Steve Knapp.

Again, this is uncharted territory, and no answer or solution is right or wrong. At present a lot of businesses are winging it as they open back up trying to fit in with the government guidelines, trying their best to comply, adapting and continually changing to meet customers demands and needs.  

Round Up

As mentioned several times in this 3-Step Guide To Returning Back To Business, this is uncharted territory for all of us. The world we lived in before Covid-19 reared its ugly head, is gone. The way we do business and face to face sales has changed and will remain changed for the foreseeable future. Will it ever return back? my guess is yes, eventually, at least some resemblance to it at least. But for now, lets just all do our best, keep our staff, our customers and our friends and family’s safe.

What steps have you taken to ‘Get Back To Business’? What steps do you recommend for others? Leave your comments below. 

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the governments risk assessment builder, it gives some great points to consider and it is also mandatory – with some hefty fines behind it for non compliance from the HSE.

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