14 May 2020, 09:18 AM
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on our everyday lives, it is important we maintain high spirits and support each other and our local communities as much as possible. As non-essential stores remain closed until further notice, it can be easy to panic about the future of your business
How to keep your small business afloat during lockdown

It’s certainly proved a testing time for small businesses, but there are many ways in which we can maintain customer loyalty and prepare our businesses for when we are able to open to the public once more.

With this said, let’s discuss how we can keep our businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Offer delivery options
As the foodservice delivery market value grew to a staggering £8.5 billion in 2019, it’s no secret that the ease of an already-made meal is a desirable option for everyone every now and then. Therefore, now is a better time than ever to offer a takeaway service.

Even if you run a business that’s never offered deliveries before, there’s no time like the present to give it a go! You could even offer a restaurant discount to get the new takeaway branch of your business off to a flying start.

Now, the issue of ensuring that your food is delivered to your customers with no risk of contracting the coronavirus is something that plays on everyone’s mind. However, putting in place some basic safety precautions will put your customers’ minds at rest and allow you to run a safe establishment.

Firstly, delivery instructions. Make sure you give your customers an option to outline their preferences (such as leaving the food at their door, or the option to meet you at the foot of your drive to prevent being in close contact with them). By putting these basic safety precautions in place, it limits the risk of spreading the virus through close physical contact with others.

You should also give thought to your go-to payment method. The World Health Organisation clarifies no warning against using paper money throughout the pandemic, however, for peace of mind, a contactless card payment or taking money online or over the phone are better options. 

Offer a voucher scheme
For many businesses, opening right now (even remotely) is simply not an option. One way that many local businesses are tackling this, however, is by putting a voucher scheme in place. A pay now, enjoy later scheme can work wonderfully and benefit both your business and your customers — this way, they’ll have something to look forward to after lockdown that they’ve already paid for, whether that be a meal, a manicure, or a creative workshop.

As a business, you could either set this scheme up yourself or look for a local initiative such as Tyne Collective, which will list your service and sell vouchers on your behalf.

Stay connected and social
While you’re away, it’s natural to worry about being forgotten. However, if you put the work in, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the loyalty that your regular customers will show.

One important way to keep customers engaged is by staying active on social media. Post regularly and make sure your customers feel part of the conversation. You could run competitions for example, whether the prize is one of your products delivered or a voucher for when you’re back up and running.

In addition, you could think of creative ways to still entertain and help your customers from a distance. If you’re a beautician, you could film some tutorials on your Instagram page. If you’re a food or drink retailer, why not offer up a recipe or two to your followers, or host a live cooking lesson?  By keeping your customers’ spirits high during lockdown and staying at the forefront of their minds, you’re certain to see the favour returned in the form of queues out of your door when business resumes.

Instagram has also just released their ‘supporting small businesses’ feature which allows users to promote their favourite small businesses via a sticker on their stories. The stories are then collated so users can see all of their friends’ small business recommendations in one go. If you keep your followers engaged, they’re sure to spread the word about your business!

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the economy as a whole is inevitably going to be affected by its aftermath. Although we cannot single-handedly do anything to stop this, we can work together and create a supportive network that will help our businesses survive and prosper through this time and thereafter.

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