Business as usual is no longer the usual way of doing business. To survive the unexpected, you have to expect to innovate and adapt. The key advantage that many small businesses have over big box stores or online shopping is the in-person experience. But what do you do when that is literally no longer an option?
Begin by communicating. If you don’t have a website with an e-mail subscriber list – get one now. WordPress is the gold standard in websites. You can put up a basic website quickly and for free. SquareSpace and Wix are also still viable options, but you will soon find you have outgrown them and that transferring files is time consuming. Don’t duplicate effort if you an avoid it.
If a website just feels like too big of a hurdle right now, it’s OK. You still have plenty of other options. Make your company a Facebook page (not a profile) . You will need a personal Facebook profile in order to do this. A few notes about this
- Facebook profiles are for individuals. Facebook pages are for everything else – businesses, charities, and any other entity. You may feel it’s quicker and easier to ‘just make a profile’ but don’t. They don’t have the same functionality and eventually, Facebook will do a clean up and you will lose everything. Do it right the first time.
- Assign more than one administrator. Do not leave a single person as the sole administrator on your page. Should anything happen to that individual – they leave the organization, divorce the owner, or have a massive bout of amnesia – your social media presence is both frozen and compromised. Make handing over any passwords and ending permissions part of any employee exit strategy.
- Install the Pages Manager on your so you can keep on top of what your customers are saying
- Use your platform to both push out information about your business and to share information from others, therefore pulling your clientele community together
- Regularly update and post to your page. Add it to your regular, daily to do list.
- Make sure you fill out as much information as possible and keep it up to date. Full address, phone number, email, hours of operation – all of it.
Consider also using Instagram and Twitter, as well as small platforms like Alignable, to get your message out and your presence known.
Don’t forget Google Maps – and keep your hours up to date. Claim your space, mark your territory, and make sure people know where to find you – even if they can’t walk through the door any more. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to find something you know should be there.
So now what?
Decide what you can feasibly still deliver to your customer. Do you HAVE to meet face to face? Will a phone call accomplish just as much? What about a video chat? Remember: ‘we’ve never done it that way before’ or ‘I don’t want to’ or even ‘I’m not comfortable with that’ are not reasons – they are excuses. And successful business owners don’t make excuses.
If you sell a mixture of perishable and non-perishable products – is it time to change the mix? Make perishable goods pre-ordered only? Take photos and post them to your Facebook page, letting people know they can call you to purchase items using their credit card or eTransfer. Assign pick up times, numbers, and spots. You probably won’t have the same amount of product going out the door, but it will still be moving.