Keeping Your Business Afloat During COVID-19
The COVID-19 restrictions have forced many businesses to reduce staff and even close their doors. According to a recent survey conducted by The Australian Bureau of Statistics, two-thirds of businesses have noticed a considerable decline in revenue due to the pandemic circumstances. With a recent spike in cases, there is a significant risk of increased restrictions in Victoria. While many business owners are struggling to continue day to day operations, some businesses have identified opportunities in our new limited lifestyles.
Working within confines
The businesses who have been the least impacted by COVID restrictions are those that have identified opportunities to change their strategy and business operations. A common alteration used in many hospitality businesses has been the introduction of takeaway and delivery. Restaurants have been one of the businesses most impacted by the pandemic restrictions. Turning your gourmet dine-in menu into easy and delicious takeaway options allows you to continue serving your pre-established customer base. Reduced menus have helped many cafes, pubs and restaurants operate with a reduced workforce and limited revenue. Although it can be challenging to decide which food options to cut, you should consider keeping only the most popular and cheapest to produce meal options – ensuring there is a least one vegetarian/gluten free option. Providing meals to frontline essential workers is a great way of showing your appreciation and inspiring loyalty amongst your followers.
Expanding your market
Expanding your target market can help to make up for the reduction in your regular clientele. For many businesses, the introduction of takeaway/delivery services has been a great starting point for diversifying their customer base. Offering more affordable takeaway options can introduce a new market to fine dining venues. With contactless trade and delivery, your business can continue servicing customers without risking the health of employees.
While the streets are empty, the virtual world has never been busier. Being stuck at home, restricted with where you can go, what you can do and who you can see has boosted a surge in online activity. This is a great opportunity for business owners to jump online and start setting up a website or social media account. Creating a website or social media page for your business is easy and free! It is vital to keep you customers up to date on your opening hours and any alterations to business operations during this time. If your business is still operating, make sure you are advertising this; alternatively, if you have been forced to close, ensure your customers are informed and keep them engaged until reopening.
For any food related or service-based business, Instagram is a fantastic platform to keep customers engaged and even increase your following. Additionally, Instagram has recently introduced a ‘supporting small businesses’ feature which allows users to promote their favourite small businesses using a sticker. The stories are collated so users can see their friend’s recommendations. Keeping customers engaged by sharing images and videos is a great way to be noticed and build customer relationships.
Keeping customers engaged
Keeping your customers engaged can be as simple as sharing free resources including online tutorials or running competitions. Give something back to your customer base and encourage them to follow, like and comment. Creating a build-up to your reopening with a small celebration such as a ticketed themed event or trivia night can create excitement and ensure a full house (without breaching restrictions).
Long term goals
Although the pandemic circumstances have negatively impacted many industries, it can help to have a positive outlook on the situation and alter your business to be more resilient to any future lockdowns, oppose to creating short term solutions.
Many businesses have noticed a significant reduction in customers and sales. While the lack of business can be stressful, try to use this time productively. Work on ways to improve your business while you have the time. Get staff involved to ensure they are feeling valued and optimistic.