We have not seen anything like this before.
Over the last two weeks we’ve all been putting out fires and taking care of things for the next day, or the next week in our businesses. Laying off employees, setting up remote workforces so our business can continue to function and bring in revenue and cash for the immediate future. We’ve been sifting through all of the information on programs and subsidies that the government is providing so that we understand what kind of options are and will be available to us.
All things that were totally and completely necessary. But now what?
As much as we’ve been focusing on what HAS to be done, there is still so much uncertainty as to how long this is all going to last, so what can we be doing now to ensure that our business is still operational in 90 days?
Here’s some thoughts and ideas that may help you. Some may not apply to your particular business model, but hopefully one of the ideas will work for you. Please share in the comments any ideas that you have which may also help others.
There is a new normal coming, none of us know exactly what it will look like, but we need to start preparing for it as best we can. And, we need to start preparing for it now.
Expand Your Customer Base
When you either re-open your doors or your traffic picks up again because the danger has passed, you want to ensure that you have picked up new customers who are already prepared to do business with you. That means drawing in customers from your competition. So give some thought as to how you can offer something more or something different than you were doing previously, or that the competition is currently doing.
- Do Some Research on your Competition – What are they doing that you aren’t?
- Is there a product or service that you’ve been thinking about offering but haven’t had the time to research or market it properly
Strengthen Your Relationships
We’ve all heard the old adage that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The bird in the hand is your customer or client and they are an opportunity to increase your sales without incurring the costs of finding a new customer.
- What can you do to improve the relationships with your current customers? Focus on what products or services you provide that are a “need” not a luxury for your customers. And figure out how to get those products or services to them.
- Say thank you to your past customers. You’d be surprised how far those two words will go.
- Last but not least, listen to your customers. If they are reaching out to you, they are likely telling you what they need from you. If you have a mailing list of customers, reach out to them. Ask them what you can do to help them, and then listen closely to their answers.
Implement a Loyalty Program
It costs a lot less to keep existing customers than to earn new ones. Loyalty programs have been proven to increase customer retention, as well as increase sales. They do require some thought and planning, so now that you’ve got that time, plan out how you could implement it. Here’s a helpful resource on establishing a loyalty program –
Understand Your Current Product/Services
You’ve got some down time right now, so take a good hard look at your current business model and the products or services you offer.
- Which areas of your business have the potential to drive the most value within the next 90 days? If you find that you will need to cut back on your costs in the future, you’ll already have a good handle on what areas add the most value, and so also which areas you could afford to cut back in delivering.
- Think about alternate ways that you can deliver your product/service. A prime example is the restaurant industry who have closed dining rooms, but are offering takeout and delivery options, as well as curb-side pickup. If you are a logistics company and used to service one industry which has gone into lockdown, can you serve another industry which has a higher than normal need.
- Don’t have an online presence to sell? Set one up. Using Squarespace or Shopify, you could be up and selling products by the end of the week. Are you a yoga studio? Why can’t you offer guided yoga classes online?
Just because it’s the way that you’ve always done it, doesn’t mean that you have to keep doing it that way.
Don’t Cut Back on Marketing
Trapped in your house with nowhere to go? Well, so is your customer. In the US in person/store visits have dropped by 90% in the last two weeks. That means that more people are going to be online.
- Do you have a website? If not, get one up now. Google has a free website builder – Start now
- Amp up your social media presence. People are bored while they are sitting at home locked up within four walls. Create some content that you can post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
- Most of your competition is going to be scaling everything back. You want to do the opposite. You want to be everywhere. If you are able, increase your marketing spend so that your brand is front and centre.
- Build your brand by sharing knowledge. We have seen a ton of businesses who are offering online resources for free. No, it isn’t going to help your immediate financial position, but it will build you goodwill and just maybe will help you gain some new customers down the road. Start a YouTube channel, do a Facebook Live, or InstaStory – whatever medium your clients would normally be found on – that’s where you should be.
Understand your finances
We’re not saying this because we are a Bookkeeping firm. Or perhaps we are because we know what solid financial management and accurate numbers can do for a business. Especially in situations like this. The numbers don’t lie – whether good or bad – so hearing the truth about how your business is performing and what resources you have available in the coming months is vital. Also, many of the loans and subsidies available in the coming months may require you to have current financials in order to qualify. So get ahead of it, if you don’t have them already.
Another highly recommended practice is to set up a cash flow planner. You can either build a simple one yourself, or reach out to us to help you. The basic requirements are a listing of your projected revenue, and your projected expenses for the next 13 weeks. This will allow you to have a good handle on when you’ve got money coming in versus when it has to go out the door. You now can anticipate and plan for periods of tight cash flow. You always want to see trouble brewing before it happens, rather than reacting to it when it’s too late.
Even during past recessions, great companies continued to survive and even thrive. Apple was actually started during a recession, and they’ve kind of done okay 🙂
Fix what you’ve learned is wrong about your business
As you’ve had to scramble over the last couple of weeks, you’ve probably learned some things about your business. You may have learned that your disaster recovery plan doesn’t work, or perhaps that it did. You may have thought that your employees could work from home, and realized what the limitations are that are holding them back. Regardless of your industry, you’ve likely learned some things about your business that need fixing. Take this opportunity to outline what needs to change so that your business comes back stronger than ever.
Check your Mindset
I know you probably don’t want to hear this, because I certainly didn’t. But the direction of your business is going to rest purely on your shoulders and will be determined by your mindset. Your employees will take their cues from you – are you worrying? Then so will they. Are you scared? Then they will be too. If you think that you will never recover from this, then you won’t. Will it be hard – probably. But don’t set yourself up for failure by believing it’s not possible. The first step to coming out of this on the other side is to change your mindset to believing that you will emerge stronger and better than you were before.
“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked,” – Warren Buffett
Stay Safe. Be Kind. We got this.
This blog is for you and we hope you will enjoy the content.
We will be providing you with more information to help you Learn, Build and Manage your Firm in future posts, so stay tuned.
Please let us know if there are any specific topics you would like us to address in the future.