We’ve now been in lockdown for several weeks, and businesses across the country have had to close their doors or adapt to radically new ways of operating. It’s likely to be a long time before things can return to the way they were, so it’s time for entrepreneurs to consider what changes they need to make in order to remain viable. The businesses that adapt quickly are most likely to weather the storm – here are a few things to think about.
Improve your delivery offerings
Many small businesses that used to operate as shops or collection-only businesses are now offering delivery. This doesn’t just apply to retailers – although small local convenience stores that are now offering their products through sites like Deliveroo are one example of the trend – but also to other types of business: think local pubs delivering Sunday Roasts or small florists branching into doorstep delivery for the first time. If it’s safe for you to do so, then offering home delivery is a great way to keep a business running when the doors are closed.
Implement social distancing
How would social distancing work within your business? Think about the different interactions, including those between colleagues as well as customers. Everything needs to be spaced out, and you may need to consider restrictions such as one-way flow around your buildings or limiting the number of people allowed into the space at any one time.
Supermarkets have done an excellent job of this, so consider following their lead when looking at how to use social distancing to keep your employees and customers safe.
Communicate openly and clearly
You may decide that it’s not possible to continue with some of your old business practices, and if that’s the case then you need to be very clear with your customers so that they know what to expect.
For instance, clothing companies may decide to reduce their range in order to implement proper social distancing for their employees. Send out communications explaining what’s still available and what’s being taken off the menu, giving clear reasoning for any reduction to services. it’s most important to keep the local staff and customers safe, and if you’re not clear about the measures you’re taking then there may be backlash.
You should also consider which communications channels to use. Communities are currently rallying together, and things like local magazines and social media groups have become more important than ever for sharing messages and information.
Take your business online
If you’ve resisted taking your business digital, then now may be the time for a rethink. Entrepreneurs that can connect with their customers online will find it far easier to get through the current situation.
Aside from ensuring that your web presence is up to scratch, you should also think about how the internet can help you to run your business. In particular, companies that haven’t embraced remote working yet should think about whether they can use online meetings and productivity tools to let their employees continue working from home.
There’s no pretending that things will be easy for small businesses over the coming months, but by adapting to the situation and trying to offer your customers a little bit of normalcy, we hope that many of you will be able to weather the storm.