Thankfully, most business owners have not had to deal with a closure for an undetermined amount of time. Due to the global pandemic, many business now are being forced make the choice of closing or not, and some have had the choice made for them. So how to you decide what to do? How do you choose the best option for your business? What are the options? Everyone has a lot of questions they are dealing with right now, and while I don’t have any answers, I have learned of some great ways businesses are trying to keep income flowing into their business and still keep everyone safe and healthy.
The easiest way to keep income flowing and have no physical contact with customers is online shopping. Many business are already selling online, but a lot of small town businesses do not. So if you do, ramp up the advertising online, social media, and spread the word that everyone can still shop online! If you do not have an online store yet, now’s a great time to start. There are many platforms that can help you sell easily and at a low cost. SquareSpace, Shopify and Facebook Marketplace are just a few.
Whether you have an online store or not, you can always offer curb-side service. Let customers order and pay online or over the phone and deliver to their car when they pull up outside of your business. Depending on your location and staff you may be able to offer local delivery as well. This is pretty much the only option for restaurants right now, so if you don’t already have a good to go menu, then it’s time to get to work! Many people just want to help local businesses right now, so your menu doesn’t need to be fancy, just things that people can easily pick up and eat at home.
I have seen a few places offer private shopping sessions. One or two days a week they have appointment only time slots where only one customer or small group of customers are allowed in the store. Then after they leave the allows time to clean and then the next customer(s) can come in. This is great if your store is a small space where it is hard for customers to distance themselves from other customers that they don’t know.
Many small businesses have only part-time employees who have little to no sick time. With a drop in income it is hard to justify paying your employees, however most owners want to be able to still pay and support their staff. Try to keep income coming in and then put your employees to work. If you have an online shop, let them do the shipping. If you are going to offer delivery, put them to work delivering. There are many behind the scenes jobs they can do that will help you in the future also. Do you keep good track of your inventory, not only the dollar amount, but how long things have been sitting on the shelf? If not, this is a perfect time to put something in place with your employee’s help. Do you have filing that needs done, a storage room that needs cleaned, a pantry that needs reorganizing, maybe old stock that you need help selling? All of these are great tasks for employees. Also, have them help spread the word that you are still able to help customers.
Make sure to keep shopping for things you normally would. Call your favorite places and find out what options are available for you to shop. If you have to stay home, make sure you have everything you need to make it more enjoyable. Get some books, family games, crafts, home projects, or anything that will help your family get along.
Lots of restaurants are offering curb side delivery or home delivery. While I don’t eat out much normally, I am going to do my best to support my local restaurants. Even just a basket of fries, a couple drinks, or a sandwich can make a difference.
Help spread the word about your favorite local businesses. Tell your friends, family members and social media followers how they can shop at your favorite places. Give your local businesses great Google or Yelp reviews. Help them so when they can re-open they have a whole new crowd of customers waiting at their doorstep!
There is no right or wrong answer as to how to handle this situation. All we can do is try to keep each other safe and healthy and support everyone around us the best we can. If you are a small business owner who is struggling there are a lot of great resources out there to help.
Feel free to contact me and I can help lead you in the right direction. And although bookkeeping is not top priority for people right now, I am happy to help in other ways. I have experience with basic website setup and selling online and am happy to offer my services. Email me at email@example.com