This COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been scary and tiring. We’ve been inundated not just with news, but with content from business owners telling you how to handle the crisis. It’s hard to know how to react, but I have one piece of advice that I hope simplifies decisions for you:
Just do the right thing.
It’s hard to say when we’re seeing so many businesses close their doors, take huge revenue cuts, and face the potential of shuttering for good. But here is some truth to keep in the forefront of your mind: Your brand is more important than your profits right now.
What does that mean for you?
It means that you, as a business, are responsible for doing the right thing, whether that means closing your retail stores, posting updates on your website and social platforms about how you’re handling the pandemic and keeping your employees and customers safe, or emailing your clients to offer postponed project dates or new payment plans.
It’s hard, because your business might be hurting, and these feel like choices that will impact your bottom line and drive revenue down sooner than it needs to.
But the sooner you do the right thing, the faster you’ll build or reinforce the trust that your customers have in you.
Right now, trust is the one thing you do have control over. (And FYI, it’s the only thing good businesses are built on.) Your customer has to trust that you care about them. That you’re making decisions for their well-being and for the community’s health. That trust will follow you no matter what happens to your bottom line. It’s what will enable you to rebuild your business after this pandemic is over.
Let me give you some examples:
A cafe local to us posts on their Instagram page every couple of days. In the past two weeks, none of these posts have referenced Coronavirus. As a customer who craves their offerings constantly, I was disappointed to see that they weren’t taking the pandemic seriously and hadn’t updated any of their customer touchpoints to tell me if they had increased their sanitation practices or if they were suspending indoor pickup in favor of curbside pickup or delivery. Because of this, I now don’t trust this company and I will not be supporting them during the pandemic because I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SAFELY.
A chef in our city closed down her dining room days before our state mandated the closure of all restaurants and bars. She has been very openly sharing that her team will not be able to make it past this pandemic without open and operating dining rooms, but she closed her doors anyway because she knew it was the right thing to do. Many of her employees have been laid off so they could collect unemployment, and her remaining skeleton crew was one of the first to implement curbside pickup and meal plan delivery in our city. The other day when we decided to support her business and order a meal for curbside pickup, she had garnered so much enthusiasm and support from the community that her wait times were 2+ hours. It’s worth noting that this chef is a pillar of our community and champions other chefs and charities in the area.
Now tell me which one of these restaurants has a higher chance of reopening and making higher profits after this pandemic is over.
People are watching what you’re doing, and your good actions pay off.
Your brand is more important than your profits because it lives on when your profits cannot.
Not sure how to build trust? Here are a few steps to take:
Brick and mortar retailer:
Keep yourself updated on local mandates and make sure you’re addressing any questions about how your business is handling the pandemic.
Offer curbside pickup of your product and make it easy for customers to place an order online.
Rent out any equipment you have that customers might need (and tell customers how you’re disinfecting everything).
Start streaming your services online or on a social media platform.
Product-based online business:
Tell customers how you’re caring for your employees’ safety and health.
Update customers on any shipping changes. Are things shipping normally or will there be a delay?
Reassure customers that your products are clean and safe, and tell them how your fulfillment team is practicing safe cleaning practices.
Offer a small freebie or a fun activity to do in place of using your product, especially if you’ve already sold out and can’t restock.
Service-based online business:
Check in on your clients to make sure they feel cared for.
Open up the invitation for clients to come to you to request a postponed project date or a new payment plan.
Provide your expertise or talents to help your audience get through this pandemic with more information or more joy.
Lastly, if you’re in a position where your job and finances aren’t impacted as much as others, consider how you can give back or lift others up. Generosity is a privilege and now is our time to do good.