It would comes as no surprise to anyone that the world has taken an interesting turn of late. With the outbreak of COVID-19, and the subsequent setting and easing of restrictions, people all around the world have been forced to adapt. It makes sense that businesses must similarily adapt if they are to recover and remain relevant. What can we learn from COVID-19 and our ability to survive a crisis?
Whether you’re a fashion retailer, a fast-food chain or any other business looking to remain relevant to your customers, adjusting your operation to match what’s going on is key to weathering the storm. To help you do just that, and even flourish, the team at Bentleys has put together a few guiding principles which explain how businesses can survive a crisis and be well places to emerge as a stronger business.
Crisis management or business continuity plan
The first thing that we recommend is that you focus your energy towards developing a crisis management or business continuity plan. This plan is important because it will help you to identify the biggest threats to your business and establish ways to effectively overcome them. Start by thinking about the nature of your operation, how much profit you have coming in, what the pain points are, the viability of your current team and so forth. Scenario testing is a good idea in any environment, but certainly a great way to understand your potential paths and can assist you with understanding what trigger points may require you to act, and it gives you a clear vision of what you will do. With a clear understanding of everything that’s in place, you’ll be best positioned to make the necessary changes to your business, which we like to call a pivot.
Pivoting your business is when you modify your product or service to cater for times of change. And while many people may think of this as a bad thing, it can be beneficial. Take for example the fashion industry, that has for a long time relied on busy locations and foot traffic to sell clothing. With isolation laws still in place in some areas, customers may not easily be able to shop for non-essential items in person. So, many of these businesses have pivoted to focus primarily on online sales. How have they done this successfully? By improving their website ranking through SEO rebuilds, and by updating their catalogues to include short videos that improve user experience. A shift towards eCommerce in this sense has saved many companies and will strengthen their position in the market when things return to normal. The simple reality for many businesses is that both the way we work and the way we purchase goods and services may have changed permanently, and thus many businesses won’t be returning to their exact working or distribution arrangements when we all return to work.
Another thing to focus on is targeting in on your audience. In other words, if you can track your key sales demographic online, then you can advertise effectively and bring in returns. This has always been the case but, given changing market conditions, is of even greater importance now. Given the lockdown laws that are currently in place, more and more people are connecting online to catch up with friends and stay updated. This means that platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and the emerging TikTok are flooded with activity. Proactive businesses can take advantage of this situation by increasing paid social media campaigns to expose their product to more people around the world.
During the panic and chaos of a crisis, it can be easy to lose touch of the human aspect involved in running a business. That’s why maintaining an emotional connection with customers can make a big difference to whether you survive. This could be a subtle and personable reminder that your business, just like everyone else, is struggling and that customer support is always appreciated. You could email your contact list thanking them for their on-going support throughout a tough time. Or, you could attach a note of gratitude to every order that your restaurant delivers. Doing so can help to cultivate loyalty between yourself and customers. Just think how nice it is when you receive a bespoke message. Your customers will think the same too. A small bit of effort on the human front when human connectivity has been reduced may pay significant dividends with your clients.
Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.