Trading Through Covid Tips
The last 18 months have been very challenging for everyone on planet earth. As business owners, we are having to adapt faster than ever before because every day is different.
Lockdowns, mass contamination and true fear of death, never before experienced in our lifetime, have meant that we have to trade and connect digitally and find service solutions outside the normal toolkit we use.
Here are tips from Nancy Georges to support you as you trade though Covid and future challenging times:
- Recognise the massive change that has occurred and don’t think ‘business as usual’. There is nothing usual about the virus, the lockdowns and people’s morale.
You will have to do things differently and make changes to your business so that it survives.
- You must have a total focus on your customers, it’s all about them, they still want to shop and explore and can only do it online / digitally. Constantly be thinking of doing the following to your customer:
- Communicating to
- Selling to
- Delivering to
The most obvious way is when they are physically in your business to be super attentive and engaging.
DON’T whinge to them. They don’t want to hear about how hard it’s been for you, your staff or your business. They are struggling enough. If you think you can ‘guilt’ them into buying from you, you will simply turn them off and not see them again.
DO be honest and positive. Digital is connective tissue to your customer when they are not in your business.Give them ways to connect to and buy from you easily.
- Stay connected to physical space if you have one:
- If you don’t have a physical space then anchor activity to your website
- Use social media to direct customers to your physical space / website, don’t do all your activity on one social media site
- Talk to you customer don’t broadcast
- Talk & listen to your customer and act on their feedback
- Don’t talk AT them
- Ask questions to build connection & help you better sell to them
- Add relevant new products, think of all the things your customer is doing now that they didn’t do before and what they will need:
- Masks are the obvious choice
- Home schooling tools and equipment
- Working from home furniture and accessories
- Fast meal prep
- Share relevant and current information – be the curator. There is so much news and information about everything from health, travel, celebrity, sport, local info, tech etc.
Bring the latest and most interesting information and products to customers, You will become one of the first stops because they will recognize that you are saving them time and you find the things that they are interested in.
Don’t shy away from sharing Covid news and info too. Remember people want to feel good and support businesses who meet their needs.
- Audit every thing, just because you have done something for a long time doesn’t mean it’s always the right thing, especially in this climate.
Save money where you can when sales are lower than expected:
– Focus on costs
– Focus on overheads
– Review Pricing
- Tweak staff roles. Everyone needs to step up and contribute to the business, with guidance and training if needed. The objective is to keep the business going and staff working.
Take note of staff morale, it’s so important to keep the fun and light in the workplace at this time, even if you don’t really feel like it – it is good for all of you.
- Speak to / work with suppliers, they are your best business partners, not just in Covid times. Remember they are in the same position as all business owners!
- Talk to them about your challenges,
- Ask them about new items you are looking for
- Ask them about what other customers are doing
- Speak to other retailers
- Ask them about clever ideas and campaigns they are seeing
- Use their images and content for fresh content on your site
- Talk to your Landlord. A good landlord should be a tenant’s business partner. The business’ success should be the landlord’s success. There is no doubt that many landlords are simply rent collectors not business savvy. Looking at strip shopping areas 12 months on, the empty stores and buildings tell their own story.
Either your landlord is open to supporting you or not.
If so, talk about paying a percentage of sales growth or asking them for rent breaks / discounts for a period.
If not, consider shopping around in all the new empty spaces for a new landlord who will support you moving forward.
- Talk to your neighbours. This is the easiest and most effective of all points! Your neighbours are as close as you will get to anyone in your position; physically, emotionally and professionally.
Their observations may not be yours and vice versa. 2, 3, 4 or more heads are better than one. Share ideas, campaigns and promotions to each other others’ customers.
Bulk buy items you all use and save money. Show your customers you are a connected unit and tell them what your neighbour is up to, stocks, is doing etc. This goes to point 6, be the curator!
- Don’t make change for change sake. This is a good rule in life not just in Covid times! If you are going to make a change it needs to make sense to your business, brand and for the customer.
If you do something you see is working for someone else without understanding all aspects, you may not get the same result and, in fact, at risk of making a huge mess that will damage your business and take your focus off your business and what really needs to be done.
- Make changes as needed, big and small. Now is not the time for ‘perfection’. Be agile and as you change things that aren’t working or adding new things needed.
DON’T be reactionary. Only make change that is sustainable and makes sense to your bigger business picture.
As a general example; tik tok seems to have swept around the work with millions of eyeballs on it.
- DO add video elements to your content and share relevant clever tik toks and videos in your socials and on your site. In some free time explore and learn about tik tok and strategy.
- DON’T start a tik tok account and try to create videos with all the features. This will take time and energy and not reflect well on your business or brand.
- Do something totally uncomfortable. We are living in super uncomfortable times. When we are too comfortable and ‘safe’ this can lead to complacency and lack of objectiveness.
As we and our businesses get older, we think we know it all and what is good for us and our business. This can’t be true because we live in a fast-paced world with unexpected changes, even without Covid!
Change is uncomfortable. Seeking new info or advise is uncomfortable. Speaking to people about our skill / knowledge gaps is uncomfortable. Changing our business is uncomfortable, especially if we have been comfortable for a while.
The only one constant in life and business is change.
Facing, addressing or acting upon something that needs to get done but makes us uncomfortable is good for our development and growth as humans and business owners.
You may even feel great and open to more changes once you do the first one!
- Read & get inspired by big stories and examples. None of us are reinventing the wheel, there is always something we can learn, someone we can learn from and an idea we can adapt to our lives and businesses!
Read professional magazines, listen to interesting podcasts, watch TED talk videos, attend webinars and conferences. Join online groups and participate.
Do these in and out of your industry. Find concepts and ideas that you can adapt and implement in your business that will excite your staff and your customers.
Learn about Consumer Behavior, Marketing, Sales, Leadership, Tech, Management and dare I say it, Accounting (my least favourite).
I hope these help you get comfortable with the changing world we find ourselves in.