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How To Reopen Your Business After COVID-19
With the lockdown restrictions being eased, retailers, beauty salons, real estate agencies, etc. are preparing to reopen their business. The first thing to note is that the threat from Coronavirus and the global pandemic isn’t over yet. Businesses have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. That being said, safety measures that need to be undertaken largely depend on the type of business you run.
There are some common practices, however, that you as a business owner can introduce in order to ensure a safe reopen. For example, using cashless and contactless payment methods, washing hands, using sanitizers and disinfectants, and wearing masks.
In this article, we will focus on what more you can do to ensure not just a safe but also a successful reopening.
How To Safely Reopen Your Business After COVID?
The first thing to do is to read the Government guidelines for reopening businesses in your country, state or area. Many countries have divided areas into zones based on the number of active COVID-19 cases. The basic measures you must take to safely reopen your business will largely differ, depending on the regulations of your area or zone, so be sure to familiarize yourself with them.
Once you’ve done the research, the following tips will ensure you have a successful reopening:
1. Use an appointment booking system
A recent survey shows that 86% of people avoid places with long queues and large crowds. Post-lockdown, businesses can expect an upsurge in demand, especially the ones that offer services that weren’t available during lockdowns like hair salons, non-essential retail stores, dentists, eat-in restaurants, and more. To manage this demand and keep your customers happy, an appointment booking system is essential.
For customers running on tight schedules, waiting in queues is not a good idea, unless you want to lose out on business. It is much better to let the customer book a slot based on their convenience than to make them wait. After all, the customer comes first.
Ensuring social distancing in physical locations is still a regulation – and will be for a long time. A fearful customer is the last thing you want as a business owner. Having a booking system ensures that your customers and employees alike are safe. You can control and manage the number of people at your business at any given time.
Here are some of the benefits of implementing an appointment booking system:
Smooth demand: Even out the customer flow by allowing shoppers to book a time slot when they want to visit your store. Know exactly how many customers you can expect, hire or allocate the appropriate number of staff members, and plan stock ups.
Always expect to be cash generative: Have a clear idea of the buying power you can expect and forecast profit. Identify in-store trends and further improve customer flow.
Keep customers and staff safe: Ensure that your customers and staff don’t bump elbows in your shop. Track who has had contact with whom and notify the appropriate people if they might have had contact with an infected buyer or employee.
Eliminate long queues: Allow customers to book their shopping slots online so they can get priority access to your store, without having to wait in line. You can still accept walk-ins while providing “V.I.P. experience” to clients who book ahead.
Get more customer information upfront: Ask customers for their details at the point of booking, engage them with targeted messages, and analyze customer behavior.
We’ve recently published a downloadable white paper focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on the retail sector and how booking systems can help retailers to safely reopen their businesses. Although the white paper was predominantly written for shop owners, you will find that many of the topics, ideas, and case studies that we discuss in it are helpful for other service-based businesses too.
2. Communication is key
So is informing customers about your return. If you tried your best to clearly communicate with customers during the crisis, it is now time to get the word out about your reopening.
Social media announcements are useful for creating hype with countdown posts. The classic “5 days to go” post builds up quite a lot of anticipation. Plus, if you’re already using a booking system, you could start to take bookings even before you actually reopen your business. This way, you’ll know exactly what to expect in the first week of being back in business.
Here’s a template that you can download and use across your social media channels to build up excitement:
Don’t forget to update your Google My Business profile, for many people this is the source of truth they trust the most. Updating your opening hours and displaying a short COVID-note will go a long way when reanimating your business.
Another great way to create some noise around reopening is to send out an email and text message campaign to all your clients. There will be customers who try to reach you via phone calls and keeping up with the high demand might lead you to miss some of these calls. To avoid this, set up a friendly voicemail with your new business hours and in-advance booking options.
Printing and displaying a poster at the entrance of your office or store is a neat way to attract passers-by. But remember, your customers need to be assured that you are providing your services in a safe and stable environment, so do mention that in all of your announcements.
3. Give your customers a reopening discount
GAP did it, so should you. Everybody loves a good deal. The last few months have been tough on everyone, both emotionally and economically. Giving your customers a discount is a great way to thank them for being so patient and waiting for you to reopen your business.
Alternatively, you could organize a sale to express your gratitude and welcome customers back. You could also think about having special offers for loyal customers who continued to use your services online or placed orders of products even during the lockdown.
For service-based businesses, giving an extra session for free or at half price would make your clients refer you to more people and bring more business. Good deals spread like wildfire.
4. Evaluate and develop innovative ways to work during a crisis
Lockdowns have mostly been lifted but the future is unpredictable. You must be prepared for a potential second wave or other economic disruptions. Amongst other things, staying up-to-date with the news and re-evaluating your goals are great ways to survive a business crisis.
Being able to function online and work remotely is one of the biggest blessings of the internet era. Many companies have gone fully remote, you can do it too. At 10to8, we have been working from home since the last few months. It is a win-win for companies as well as the environment. Working remotely has helped us save commute time, and office expenses. If more companies go office-less, the benefits on the environment would be remarkable.
5. Participate in business communities to discuss ideas
Business communities, conferences, and forums have always helped businesses improve themselves and expand. Communities are full of like-minded individuals who love to share their ideas and experiences. Networking at community events helps you get new insights and solutions to problems specific to your business.
Getting involved in business communities also leads to referrals. Retailers recommend wholesalers, car companies recommend financing companies, so on and so forth. This way, a chain is formed, which is beneficial to customers as well as businesses.
There you have it, with the above tips, you can plan and execute a successful and safe business reopening.
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Karan is a Digital Marketing Intern at 10to8. He is passionate about the music and tech industry, and keen to learn more about business in general.
As a current MBA student, Karan aims to broaden his knowledge and move into a managerial role.
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