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“Are you open?” This common question used to mean one thing: “Are you open now?”
Ever since stay-at-home orders, shelter-in-place rules, lockdowns and limitations on the number of people who can gather in public, the question means, “Are you open while we’re all fighting the spread of the virus?”
Whether your response is Yes or No, consider ways to make the most of your situation in ways that current and future customers won’t soon forget.
Update your website. People aren’t clear about what businesses are considered “essential” and “non- essential” in their towns, cities and states. So, it’s up to you to tell them.
If you’re open, make sure that your hours are easy to find. And if you have imposed restrictions, such as limiting the number of people in your store at one time, lay that out so people know what to expect.
If you’re closed, say so on your website’s home page. Add an uplifting statement, a commitment to your customers and employees, and something that reminds them why they like you (see below).
Tell people. Turn on your neon, put a huge OPEN poster in the window, place a sign in front of the store. If you’re not a supermarket, hardware pharmacy or gas station, people might assume that you’re closed. Create a sense of activity; if your customer traffic ebbs and flows, your business might not appear to be open during slow times. An OPEN sign that also shouts ESSENTIAL might just remind people that there’s a reason they should come in right now.
Connect with customers. For some of your patrons, the only person they’ll talk to all day is you. Maybe they count on your place not just for your goods but for a human connection that will linger with them in their empty houses or apartments. Use eye contact and a genuine smile to convey that we’re all in this together and that we’ll get through it. Thank them for coming in.
Show how you protect your customers. Follow the advice on social distance and cleaning. Do it
confidently and without apology. If you’re using gloves, masks, sneeze guards or any other protection, make sure that they’re clean. Require all employees to follow the same standards for hygiene. For example, every time employees finish a cash transaction, they are to put on hand sanitizer right away.
Explain how you protect customer and employees. You might also want to post your efforts in writing so that people understand your commitment.
Decorate your windows. Some stores and restaurants now stand with their blinds or shades drawn, leaving no signs of life at their locations. Those blank white windows could give the impression that the business is closed down for good. Your windows are your face to the public. Put some effort into making them attractive, interesting and even eye-catching for those passing by. You could bring a smile to someone’s face, and they may come back and thank you for that when you reopen.
Display your wares and point people online. People still like to window-shop. Catch their interest in the real world and tell them they can find the items they see on your website. Change things up at least once a week for those who take their exercise by walking past shops in the neighborhood.
Do things that remind customers why they like you. If you’re a restaurant, post the recipe for a favorite dish that’s on or off of the menu. Bookstores can post favorite poems on huge sheets of paper in a window. Gyms can run videos of work-out sessions that will have members yearning to return.
Spruce up the place: It’s hard to make meaningful improvements when you’re open for business every day. Use the extended closure to enhance the atmosphere. Paint the walls, upgrade the floor, refinish the restaurant tables. Consider asking your customers what improvements they’d like to see. You may be surprised at the comments you get on the condition of your restroom or the age of your light fixtures.
Give it away: Donate goods or food out of your own pocket or with the help of online funds provided by those eager to contribute to the community.
We’re all looking forward to getting back to normal. Think about ways to use your business presence to help people envision us getting there.
For more information on how SBG Funding can help you during these unprecedented times, visit our website or apply here.
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