• Nadia Omair

12 ways to keep your business alive during the Coronavirus outbreak and manage the fallout

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

As we all know that Corona-virus is spreading with more than 100,000 confirmed cases and 7,531 deaths. The potential business impacts could be devastating. What should all businesses be doing to survive during this hard time?

I have personally come across a lot of businesses facing a drop in customers and sales number, disruption to supply chains, shortage of staff due to stranded/ isolated employees, all leading to ultimately loss of sales and cash flow shortages. Although, the situation is tough, but you can keep your business alive and kicking by implementing some or all of the following ideas:

1. Communicate with your current and potential customers emphasising on your customers and employees’ safety. This is the very first thing that you need to do, if you haven’t done this yet. Send emails, announce on your social media pages, place in-store signage to communicate clearly with your customers about what you are doing to respond to this crisis and what measures you have taken to ensure safety of your customers and employees and improve sanitation at the premises. If there are any policies that you have changed, communicate the changes too.

If you ask me, I will prefer visiting a business that is well-prepared and has taken strict measures to ensure safety of their staff and customers over a business that has a very casual response towards health and safety. So, communication is very crucial in this situation. For example, if your business offers massage or beauty services, you need to:

  • announce about the steps you have taken to ensure hygiene, sanitation and cleanliness at the premises;

  • ensure that you ask clients who are unwell and/or have travelled recently not to visit as a precautionary measure;

  • Place hand sanitizers at different points and require clients and staff to wash hands and use sanitizer on entering and leaving the premises.

Communicate these policies loudly on social media repeatedly to assure hygiene and sanitation. I will highly recommend creating a new policy document, putting it up on the entrance and sending it through email to all staff and customers.

2. Change your policies in response to the crisis situation, if needed. If you are experiencing very high demands as a result of panic shopping, then consider announcing changes in policy to discourage over-purchasing and provide up to date information on product availability to your customers. Again, communicate in a transparent way and utilise multiple channels to communicate the changes to your customers and other stakeholders.

3. Take your business online. Digital media consumption is likely to boost and result in an immense growth in e-commerce as consumers will continue to avoid visiting physical stores and crowded gathering places. People are likely to spend more time at home, which is why it is the perfect time to take your business online and utilise digital marketing tactics to boost or maintain sales.

If your business has been previously relying on in-store sales and you never thought about online selling before, do not worry as setting up an online store is now not as complicated as before. Thanks to the abundant number of eCommerce Solutions available today. Have a look at Shopify, Squareup, Wix, Etsy or Facebook. If you already have an online store, then you need to focus more on online sales and divert all your energy towards setting up digital marketing campaigns to reach your target audience and boost online sales.

Taking business online might be a little more challenging for some businesses, especially in cases where you are for instance, a personal trainer, gym instructor or a car showroom owner. However, you will have to get creative here. If you are a personal trainer, then you can offer webinars and tutorials on how to stay fit at home. You could offer video courses for exercises that people can do at home. Another perfect example in this case is that of the automotive industry. The businesses in the industry are moving their offering from showroom to social media in a very creative and innovative way. Some have run new digital campaigns and have launched android and iOS app to let customers see a 360-degree interior view of their favourite car models, browse vehicle features and ask questions by chatting with the dedicated sales team online. Many car dealers have now launched their new service that lets customers browse and buy cars online and get delivered to their homes.

If you need assistance in setting up an online store or a digital marketing campaign for your business, talk to us today and we will be happy to help you set up.

4. Understand your supply chain and look for alternative suppliers. Many businesses rely on parts or components from China. If the crisis has resulted in disruption in supply chain, then it is time to look for alternative suppliers to keep the business going.

5. Stay in touch with your clients/customers. It is important to remain an important part of your customers’ lives so that they come back to you once this crisis is over. By keeping your communications channel open and staying in touch, you can grow their loyalty and provide them with useful information and support. Send them newsletters, surveys, updates, inspirational messages and useful information related or unrelated to your business. Let your customers appreciate the steps you have taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

6. Diversify your customer base. You can diversify your customer base through service or product development or partnering with other businesses. For example, if you own a restaurant then you may partner with a local food delivery business to maintain sales through take-aways and home-delivery orders.

7. Announce sales promotion to boost sales or break-even. As during this time more people are likely to spend time browsing on the internet at home, offer sales promotion or send discount vouchers to your customers to maintain sales, especially if your business is facing drastic fall in sales. The idea is to prevent a loss. Aim to break even when setting discounts and promotions.

8. Focus on developing your business.

As a business owner, we have a long list of things that we want to work on but never get the time. If the business is slow, utilise this time to work on business development and improvisation. Consider this time as an opportunity to think about improvements to your business, processes, service quality and service lines. Improvise or reinvent your marketing strategy, social media content or website. Be positive and work through your list of all those tasks you have always intended to work on but never had the time.

9. Community involvement. As a local business, support the community during the time of crisis and look for ways to provide help and support to the local community. For example, you may help the elderly and self-isolated members of the community in getting groceries and vital supplies. This is the perfect time to establish a relationship with the community and strengthen your brand image.

10. Involve Virtual Assistants and Online Business Managers to cope up with staff shortage. The outbreak has triggered an anxious need for remote work at a grand scale due to stranded, sick or self-isolated employees. Virtual assistants already have an experience of working remotely, they are tech-savvy and have access to numerous online management tools that can help you get things done as efficiently as in the office. They also have an already equipped home office. Alternatively, online business managers are professionals with expertise in areas such as operations management, project management, people management, etc. Do not worry much about loss of work resulting from stranded or sick employees, consider hiring a virtual assistant or an online business manager to keep the business running.

11. Seek professional advice today. Governments around the world have announced various tax relief measures and support packages for businesses to help them survive this time. Seek professional advice, may be, talk to your local council or accountant to find out if your business qualifies for these relief measures and support packages.

12. Network with other businesses. During this time of crisis, connect with other business owners and work together towards survival. Learn how other business owners are coping up and what contingency plan they have put in place.

Remember, this is the time to stay strong, hopeful and positive. With every hardship and difficulty comes ease. If you require any assistance and virtual support, talk to us today and let us help you in keeping your business alive and kicking during this time of crisis.

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