As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, governments are introducing new lockdown restrictions to keep everyone safe. The introduction of the new covid three-tiered lockdown system in England aims to avoid national lockdown by classifying areas based on the rate of infection. And in Wales, the short, sharp “firebreak” lockdown returns the country to nationwide lockdown for over two weeks.
Throughout the pandemic, there has always been a warning before a change in restrictions. However, this notice is usually days, and as a business owner, this poses the question: How prepared is your business for a change in lockdown restrictions?
Depending on your area’s circumstances, you may need to turn services on and off quickly to comply with social limitations.
Here are four simple steps to preparing your business for a sudden increase in COVID-19 restrictions.
Planning ahead and developing flexible operations could help keep your business running through new lockdown rules.
It’s likely travel restrictions will limit access to your premises. Ensure your business can run remotely. Focus on protecting staff (both physically and mentally) by implementing quality remote working solutions now. Poor internet connection, file accessibility or restricted access to vital systems can hinder productivity and damage employee morale. Streamlining procedures and investing in quality equipment and applications can connect remote workers and help you deliver excellent customer service. For example:
- Do you have a customer relationship manager like HubSpot to ensure notes on a client are logged
- Project management tool like Monday.com can help keep track of team tasks
- A virtual assistant like I’m your PA can help manage calls and your diary
Public-facing business (shops, bars and restaurants)
Footfall is likely to drop, or stop. Therefore, you’ll need to evaluate how best to deliver your services in the most efficient way possible.
- If your shop shuts, do you have an online store? Is this optimised for conversions and upsell?
- As a pub or bar, do you serve substantial meals? Could you operate a takeaway service? Have you considered an app to limit customer and staff interaction and speed up delivery?
Personal note: I heard a story about a client who went to a pub and waited over 40mins to receive their first drink. The pub was operating table service and the staff were run off their feet delivering menus, taking orders, serving both food and drink and taking payments. As winter approaches, having customers wait this long outside is not ideal. As a result, the client admitted they wouldn’t go back.
A simple, low-cost solution to this would be to provide quality WiFi and a QR code that links them to an online menu and order form. A better solution would be to offer an app to handle the whole order and payment process, allowing the bar staff to focus on delivery and customer service.
2. Promote COVID-secure
Regardless of your local restrictions, or what type of business you are, you should be promoting your business as COVID-secure. All your communications should enforce this message.
Let customers know you are safe to do business with.
As restrictions and local guides are different, there is usually some confusion about what your customers or employees should be doing. Therefore, ensure your message is clear and visible. Make it easy for people to follow the rules.
- Place signs up around your place of business for both visitors and staff
- Use your website to explain any changes your business is making to keep people safe
- Send email updates and evidence of any changes to your customer list
- Use social media to demonstrate how you’re safe
- Why not use videos and pictures of people in PPE delivering services?
- Include information with posted packages to reassure customers you’ve taken extra precautions
3. Act COVID-secure
Working hand-in-hand with promoting that you are COVID-secure, is acting COVID-secure. This is absolutely vital to your business.
Keeping customers and staff safe is imperative and can help avoid a business shutdown. If a member of your staff tests positive, you will have to close your business. If they spread the virus to other members of the team, you might be closed for a long time. Not to mention the loss of faith or trust customers will have in your business.
If you say you’re going to keep customers and staff safe, make sure it’s obvious you’re doing so, any advice is simple to follow, and the rules are enforced. For example:
- Create large, simple to follow guides for any visitors
- If you operate a one-way system, use signs and tape on the floor and place do not enter signs for anyone approaching the other way
- Have hand-sanitising stations
- Use perspex dividers
- Encourage masks or appropriate PPE (whenever possible)
4. Focus on customer service
At this time, quick, efficient service delivery is what’s going to see you through any changes in lockdown restrictions. Systems, processes, and operational mechanisms should all focus on exceeding the customer’s expectations.
Customers are more open to change than ever before – so long as it keeps them safe and doesn’t put barriers in their way.
A simple way to identify barriers is to talk to your staff and customers directly. Understand their ‘pain’ points and look to resolve them. Feedback should be welcomed and encouraged.
You can also use this feedback to convince others to use your product or service by turning them into online reviews through Facebook or Google My Business (an essential element of SEO). Even bad reviews, when addressed, can be a positive thing.
At a time of uncertainty, be the clear guide and focus. This will help to delight your customers.
How ETC can help
If you need help creating a comprehensive plan to help prepare your business for a change in lockdown restrictions, please get in touch.
If you’re new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.