This week saw business owners of all from all sectors and business sizes act fast and hold emergency meetings with staff and their management to implement processes and mitigate risks that the corona-virus has impacted. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s and his cabinet implemented fair and strict measures to ensure the safety of South Africa and its people, which is everyone’s main concern. Business for now will have to navigate through these measures to make their situations work, remain open and sustain its staff, their families and to see the next few weeks.
During this national disaster, our sole purpose at Timmal Holdings is to support you and your business, especially during unpredictable times like this. The main thing to remember is, you are not alone, we’re here to help guide your business and its people. Business owners within the SMME sector, it is that we are enormously resilient. We will come through this much stronger.” – Kamal P Timmal :: Timmal Holdings Founder & CEO
The Business Lab continues to work closely with their clients to provide this vital business support from expert skilled employees situated around South Africa to help overcome the temporary stress and loss of revenue through our services to remain 100% compliant, accessing grants and optimising BBBEE points.
Working from home, self-quarantine, cancelled sporting events, social distancing may help mitigate the coronavirus but it also threatens to devastate small businesses.
How to stay connected with customers through the coronavirus outbreak:
Meetings might be cancelled and customers may be on self-quarantine but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected and continue providing excellent service.
If you’ve noticed a drop in customers or decrease in client communication, you’re not alone. In our digital world, there are plenty of ways to stay connected to your customers through this pandemic and keep your business going through it.
- Communicate transparently with your customers
Everyone is facing this together, so be open about what your business is going through. Customers can empathize with what you are facing as long as you communicate with them properly. Consider implementing a delivery option if you don’t already have one and if you know customers are avoiding public spaces. Inform them of the steps you’re taking to mitigate risk and even show them the steps you’re taking to help the community. If you have to greet your customers face-to-face consider a fist-bump, foot-tap or elbow-knock before you shake hands. You may be strong but there are people who may have compromised immune systems and we should be sensitive to it.When communicating about the COVID-19 virus make sure you get your facts from a reliable source. You don’t want to be adding to the panic. Ensure that you check the facts and do not just forward any emails as there could be a lot of scams doing the rounds.
- Let customers know what you’re doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Send an email to your customers and post signage in your store to assure them that you’re doing everything you can to protect their health when they visit your store. Share any increased cleaning, disinfecting and hygiene protocols you’re following, and let them know that you are enforcing self-quarantine among any employees who might be experiencing symptoms. If you are altering your hours or closing your store for a deep-clean, you should let your customers know that, too. In addition, you may offer your clients and staff hand sanitiser or disinfectant soap so that they can clean their hands as often as possible.
- Increase your social media presence
Your customers are already on social media, but these days, they are likely checking in much more frequently to get the latest updates on the virus. Whether you’re posting about the virus specifically or trying to offer light, positive content to help take people’s minds off the panic, it can be helpful to increase your posting frequency to ensure you are showing up in their news feeds.
- Offer online deals
If your business already has an e-commerce component, remind customers that they can still shop for their favourite items on your website. It might even help to offer a coupon or discount to encourage online shopping while your customers are staying home anyway.If you operate a service-based business like a restaurant or a salon, you may want to consider offering online sales of gift certificates. Encourage your customers to buy a certificate now, so they can treat themselves and redeem it when the virus outbreak has slowed and their self-quarantine period is over. This can help maintain sales for you while giving your customers something fun and exciting to look forward to.
- Use sanitising products and make sure people know where to wash their hands
For those customers who do come into your store, it’s important to enforce good hygiene practices and encourage everyone who passes through your doors (customers and employees alike) follow the practice of extreme cleanliness.
- Rein in your spending
Try not to spend money on items which are not critical for the operation of your business. It is time to cut down on the nice-to-haves and rather focus on the bare essentials to make your business run as efficiently as possible. You should also focus on all the people who owe you money and try to collect that money into your bank.
- Focus on assisting your customers through digital channels
You may already offer phone and email support to your customers, but now is the time to increase your customer service capabilities and ensure your customers can reach you, no matter where they are. Social media is a good place to start, as you can offer the option to chat via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other instant messaging platforms. You can also offer video conferencing options through Skype, Zoho, or FaceTime, so your customers can get that “face-to-face” feel without actually being there in-person.
A few more tips to endure COVID-19:
- Strategise with your team and create a contingency plan
Now is the time to look critically at your business and make a business continuity plan. If there’s one thing small business owners and entrepreneurs share it is being resilient and resourceful in times of adversity. Negotiate and stay in contact with suppliers, think about how you can adjust your offering and look at how you could weather the financial implications ahead. We are all aware of the saying, two minds are better than one, so involve your team in a powerful brainstorming and strategy session today and put a plan in place.
- Think outside your box
Now is the time to think of innovate ways to get your product or service into the hands of your clients. You may need to change how you deliver your product or service. Or you make have to look at how your organisation is structured. But it is critical to make a move to do things differently today.
- Communicate with your staff and add more flexibility
- Review your human resource policies.
- Advise those who are showing the symptoms to stay home.
- Consider flexible work options e.g. working remotely and more flexible schedules. Create a remote working policy, including hours and means of communication.
- Keep your employees informed on accurate information about the virus. Help to quell rumours and fake news and promote calm. Ensure them that they are a top priority.
- Decide how you will handle absenteeism and think about how you will communicate if people get sick. Try to be as understanding as possible when something comes up (e.g. parents and childcare with the schools that are closed) and have a contingency plan in case you suddenly become short-staffed.
For more information on our processes, contingency plan and how we are dealing with the corona virus, contact our offices on 010 03000 80 or email firstname.lastname@example.org