Covid lockdowns are affecting many types of businesses in different ways. Most visible are the retail and hospitality venues we are all desperately missing.
Businesses that serve these industries are also experiencing a downturn.
Wholesalers, some trades, and professional services businesses are suffering flow-on effects that while not as visible, are certainly damaging to industry, business owners, and employees.
It’s easy and natural to feel like the effects of Covid lockdowns are out of our control. At times like these, it’s important to focus on what we can influence. As well as knowing what Government supports are available to you, and directing your employees to assistance provided for them (link relevant to NSW), here are some ways to keep focused while riding out this time.
Keep in touch with your customers
Whether your business is currently closed, or providing alternative services, it’s important to keep top of mind with your customers and show genuine care for their experience. Customer research shows that the main reason customers change providers is that they don’t feel cared for.
Showing genuine interest in connecting with your customers, even when they are not in a position to buy from you, builds trust in your relationship.
Here are some examples:
- A closed retail clothing business could provide online e-newsletters or messaging about upcoming trends, and ramp up social media to build their ‘tribe’
- A service business could call their clients to check how they are faring, professionally and personally
- A golf club could offer members an online group Zoom chat with their Golf Pro
- An entertainment venue could facilitate live-streaming acts doing an acoustic performance (a win-win for the venue and the performer).
Adjust your services to what your customers need
When you speak with your customers, ask questions to understand their challenges during this time. They may be struggling financially; under-resourced as staff take time off due to Covid exposure and testing; or perhaps they are busier than ever.
As we’ve seen with restaurants offering takeaway, and travel services offering flexible holiday options, businesses are creatively adjusting their services to meet their customers’ needs. Here are some suggestions:
- If financially viable, an online clothing store could offer free returns (many people are finding their regular size no longer fits!)
- Service businesses might offer payment plans, or reduced services to those who can’t currently manage payments
- A tourism company could offer online webinars about different destinations, to keep travel top of mind for when borders and countries reopen to travellers.
Choose how to use the Covid lockdown to your advantage
The above suggestions all take an investment of time and energy. It’s important that you realistically assess how this lockdown period can meet your own needs.
- You might decide it’s most beneficial to use Covid lockdowns as a time for much-needed rest
- Reinvention might be more appropriate, and you may choose to brainstorm ways to remodel your business in a different form
- You may consider this time an opportunity to invest in your professional development. You could catch up on podcasts or books in your field, or look at online courses (until 17 September, The Australian Institute of Management is offering a 50% discount on online professional development courses.)
And you may take the opportunity to meet with your advisors to reset your business strategy.
Most importantly, understand that your business needs YOU. When Covid lockdowns end, your business won’t run effectively unless you are mentally, physically and emotionally ready to embrace 2022.
Outdoor exercise, healthy eating, keeping up contact with friends and loved ones, keeping expectations of yourself realistic, and gratitude for what you do have, will all contribute to your wellbeing.
Prioritising your own needs as a business owner is the most important and effective strategy to ensure your business comes out of Covid lockdowns as best it can.
We wish you well and hope whatever your experience, you are managing this latest hurdle as best you can.