As coronavirus quarantines force many businesses to shutter their storefronts, these companies are finding creative ways to serve customers and grow their business.
Almost every industry, from eateries to gift shops, cleaning crews to beauty salons, has had to revamp their models for customer engagement. Here are five tactics that are proven to keep small businesses going during this crisis.
Find a new niche
Some services are just not practical right now. Home owners, for example, are not likely to want to have outsiders coming in to their home to clean. So cleaning companies must modify their offerings and find a new niche market that can use these services. Similarly, companies should start offering new (related) services that people will want. For the cleaners this might mean sterilization and disinfection; the Litchfield Distillery in Connecticut shifted to making hand sanitizer.
Delve into delivery
Diners and restaurants are well versed in the food delivery function. Even those that did not offer that service before, are now bringing food to customers or offering curbside pickup. But how does a business that thrives on browsing or personal interaction survive? They get creative.
The La De Da! gift shop owner now asks customers to complete an online questionnaire. Then she evaluates the responses and shows customers suitable products during an online shopping sessions. Even personal trainers and fitness instructors are “delivering” their classes virtually. They are also finding new clientele; as parents workout with their children at home, gyms are offering classes for stuck-indoors kids who have lots of energy.
Offering services online allows businesses to retain their loyal customer base and even expand beyond their immediate geographic location.
Every business model includes a mapping of similar services and possible partners. Now is the time to tap those partners and consider ways of working together. Seamstresses and fashion designers could sell facemasks at local clothing boutiques. Caterers could have prepared meals sold at local grocers.
Stay in touch
Loyal customers will appreciate hearing from their favorite business owners. Simple PERSONAL emails or tags on a social media post will remind them that they are valued and important. Some small business owners might even call their clients and consult with them on how to provide services.
Take the Opportunity
Now is a good time to make modifications to business models so that it can operate efficiently when things get back to normal. Investing in effectivity and streamlining now better positions a company for success at the other end of this crisis. Similarly, businesses should look at the content and marketing materials and refresh them. As more people search the web and shop online, small businesses should keep SEO in mind and make sure they are found and prominent on the web.
The key to survival right now is flexibility. Nothing is “as usual,” especially not business. Resourcefulness, patience, and creativity will sustain small businesses as they navigate this crisis.