As the coronavirus disease continues to spread all over the world, more and more businesses are faced with a difficult decision: find a way to adapt to the current situation or close their doors forever. Here are some tips to help your business adjust to the challenges of the pandemic and stay afloat during these tough times.
This one is obvious but still bears mentioning: take out your books and find out where and how you can cut costs without affecting the quality of your service.
Putting off non-essential or discretionary expenses, such as repainting your offices or buying new equipment, is a no-brainer. Cutting out fixed expenses such as rent and loan payments is harder, if not impossible, to do. However, it is crucial if your production and revenue are at a standstill.
Try asking your landlord for a reduction or deferment of a portion of your rent. Also, ask your bank if you can put off or skip loan payments for a finite period, or if they can at least waive fees on late or missed payments. (Find out if your bank is one of those offering relief to borrowers amid the pandemic here.)
Learn from your competitors
Observe both your direct and indirect competitors, especially those that are faring better than others. Find out what they’re doing differently and see if this will work for your business. More than adopting these strategies, it’s important to adapt them to your own and your customers’ needs.
It’s also a good idea to look at larger organizations within your industry. SMBs like yours may not be able to compete with bigger players on a scale level, but you can learn a few things about customer service, marketing strategies, and the like from them.
Redefine your business model
Even with coronavirus restrictions gradually being lifted across the United States, it would take a while before things return to normal. It’s crucial to ask yourself if traditional business models would still make sense in a post-COVID-19 world and adjust accordingly.
Determine any changes you need to make to your current business model. This involves identifying who your customers are and what they need, your staff’s capabilities, and any uncertainties and their impacts. Such changes may include finding a way to deliver your products or services to your customers, just like what groceries and restaurants did in the face of lockdowns and shelter-in-place directives.
Connect with your customers
Understand that many of your customers may have been affected in some way by the pandemic — they might have been laid off, for instance, or are caring for a family member who tested positive for COVID-19. They may reach out to you to pause or cancel your services, or to ask for a discount or payment deferral. When speaking to them, demonstrate empathy, whatever their concerns may be. When things get back to normal, it’s likely that those who had a positive experience with you during the pandemic will stick around and keep doing business with you.
Keeping your customers informed throughout these trying times is important. Make sure, though, that what you’re saying is relevant to them. For example, if you run an eCommerce business, let your customers know through email or social media about any shortages in supply and when you expect to be able to fulfill their orders. Doing so reassures customers that you’re doing your best to provide them with the same quality of service pre-COVID-19.
Upskill your staff
Upskilling your employees may be the best way to spend your resources during the current situation. Equipping your team with new knowledge and skills will help them adapt to the changing business environment.
Sharpening your team’s digital skills is especially important now that the COVID-19 crisis is spurring digital transformation. Other areas to focus on are project management, communication, data analytics, and digital marketing. And if you find yourself short-staffed, it might pay to train employees to handle other aspects of your business, ensuring that everything runs smoothly throughout the pandemic and beyond.
The current situation requires swift and decisive action from business leaders. Making smart and proactive decisions now will ensure that you’ll mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on your business, and that you’ll emerge from this crisis stronger than ever. For more tips on how to run your business effectively in times of crisis, drop our experts a line today.