While the entire world is slowly slowly acknowledging and understanding that this COVID-19 pandemic is a real threat for the humanity, with no clear path on how to handle the situation and no idea how long it will take for all of us to retake full control of our lives, many companies, of any sizes (large, medium, small) have started, at senior management, or ownership level, to think about how this pandemic will affect their business.
Everyone must consider that since this Coronavirus has begun to spread around the world, maybe without realizing it yet, all our businesses, in one way or another, have already started being affected by this pandemic and none of us can state anymore that our companies are running their business as usual.
Unfortunately, and it is sad to say, some of the businesses we know today, won’t stay around for long if they do not immediately react to the situation, quickly putting together a strategy to run their business differently, understanding that social distance and social isolation will profoundly change our daily behavior.
Remote working will drastically reduce the number of people leaving their homes every morning to go to work. Remote learning will radically reduce the number of students going to schools, colleges, and universities.
Because lots of people will be staying confined in their comfortable homes, a lot of small local businesses (restaurants, bars, grocery shops, convenience stores, coffee shops, fast foods, bakeries, pastry shops, pizza shops, etc..) will face a drastic drop in the number of customers physically entering their premises.
Proactive and reactive Small Business owners, promptly understanding the evolution of their customers’ journey, even though they will have to live through situations of severe adversity, and they will have to make tough decisions, they have the opportunity to re-invent their business to keep their business afloat, while others will be closing down.
We are at the beginning of a new home-based economy, mostly based on services and goods provisioned through home delivery.
Companies like GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats, and few others, will soon see fast growth in demand for their delivery services, and they will be encouraged to expand their platforms to help small businesses operating in no food-related industries to home deliver other types of goods and services.
So, what should a Small Business/Local Business Owner start doing today? Two simple but effective steps:
- Understand whether your business is already structured/organized to serve a large number of home-based customers, then make sure to apply all the needed changes (but act fast!);
- Promote/Advertise your business locally and highlight your new delivery service on any available online/offline media. Make sure you tell everyone and anyone of your customers before they leave your premises about your new delivery service and ask them to give you their email addresses or to invite them to follow your social media channels. Take advantage of Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Alignable, Nextdoor Business, to spread the word in your neighborhood about your business and tell everybody you do home delivery. If you have a website, make sure you add a very prominent and visible message on every page of your site stating that you now offer home delivery. If you don’t have a website, make it simple and build it quickly. Use well-established website-builder and e-commerce platforms (for example, Shopify, Bigcommerce); choose whatever can bring your business online in a matter of hours (not days or weeks). Because everyone will be spending more and more time online, leverage on Social Media (especially on Facebook and Instagram) to post short but effective messages about your business, targeting your local community.
If you don’t know from where to start, or how to do it, don’t be a fool, don’t waste time, ask for professional help!
If Governments and Health Organizations force all of us to stay home, to slow down the spread of the virus, no matter how bad and painful things can become, live these business challenges and changes as a new exciting opportunity; while some of your competitors, not equipped for home delivery will be forced to close, you will still be able to run your business, help your local community, and support your family.
Prepare for the worst, hoping for the best! Time is the essence, act fast, don’t wait and see whether things get any better before embracing these changes. The more you wait, the more you are taking your chances of seeing your business forced closing down.