How to Get Your Business Up & Flowing Again
To You, The Business Owner:
There is much sadness in times of anger and there is immense anger in times of crisis. If you are not the one who needs to be heard, then you are the one who needs to hear. Hear, How? Hear, Why? Hear, What? Hear, When? And then, there are those who ask, Where? Where are you? Where were you? Where are those with the answers? What happened and what is happening right now? This is how we communicate. We want to know. We want to understand what we do not understand. There are those with the questions and there are those with the answers. Today, we look at those with the answers. That's you.
Communication is at the root of all perceptions, misconceptions, and successes. If we analyze the root cause of protests, riots, looting, or hateful rhetoric, we find a communication breakdown at the root of it all. Someone somewhere was completely misunderstood or not understood entirely. Something went awry. And so it goes with our personal relationships and so it goes with our business relationships.
As business owners struggle to emerge from the horrific affects of a pandemic slap in the face and a double hit on the other side of the face from rioting and protests we can’t help but ask, what can we do and what will we do as business owners to survive this persistent hit of unprecedented catastrophic events? Certainly, there is a lot one can do as we all kick into survival mode but know this. You are not alone, not by a long shot. You have customers that want to hear from you and those customers are your base and if you are not actively within sight of the them, then your business is not within their minds reach when they need your product or services. Communicate with your fan base. How would they feel if you reached out and told them how much you appreciated their past business or how you have taken advantage of this slow time in business to improve your products and services?
All business owners and large corporations are struggling to survive and their biggest opportunity to help pull them out of the deep dark pit where they currently sit and struggle are the people who helped keep them in business before all the current craziness. Those die hard fans are the go-to, low hanging fruit that have always appreciated the products and services you offer and don’t need a coupon to entice a purchase (although extending an enticement couldn’t hurt.) This is where communication becomes vital to the survival of a business. It’s not important to tell customers of every miserable experience the business is currently experiencing nor would it accomplish anything. Informing customers that you are on the verge of financial ruin will certainly not be reassuring but customers kept in the dark is just as bad as it indirectly sends the wrong message of distress, disorganization and discomfort with the current state of your affairs. Is that the message you want to convey? Specifically, what is your message you want to convey? And when is the time to reach out and show you are still in business?
Look to the bright future and begin setting expectations. This is vitally important because if you are not setting the expectation for your customers, you will be left with reacting to the expectations of your customers. Reach out to those who are in the best positions to support and help you. Ask for leads. Say hello. Let them know you are ready to open and ready make their lives easier. You are ready to move forward. You sir, you ma’am, are open for business!
Here then, are five e-mail or telephone topics to consider getting you started in touching base with your fans:
When will your business start fulfilling orders again?
a. Can you still do business over the phone?
b. Can you handle online sales?
2. When will your staff and sales team be available?
a Are you fully staffed again or at 25%? Be honest. Everyone understands the challenges because everyone is going through the challenges themselves. It’s ok to say your staffing is reduced due to current state of affairs and that you are pushing every day to rehire all furloughed employees.
3. Are you making deliveries?
a. What precautions do your drivers take to avoid the spread of Covid?
4. We’re Open for Business!
a. Back to old school…referrals. Past business was important but new business pays tomorrow’s bills and for your future. What problem do your products and/or services solve for your customers that they did not solve before the Covid outbreak? Then ask them, who needs what I am selling? Who do you know? Who can I call?
5. Do you owe others but find you are short on funds? Reach out to Account Receivables and tell them what is happening. One thing EVERY A/R person likes is the vendor that communicates otherwise, the situation of the collection is a great unknown and uncertainty. Communicate! Any A/R person who gives you a hard time right now has clearly been living under a rock deep in the ocean. There has to be some flexibility with payments right now and most companies recognize that it is better to stay in contact with a business that owes and know what is going on than to remain in the dark not knowing anything. This is your opportunity to set the expectation. Let them know when to expect your late payments and what are you doing to rectify the current situation of missed payments.
That last one is particularly interesting because we all have bills to pay and while we all understand the situation at hand, we all have bills to pay. It is understood why bills are late but everyone is accountable to someone else and that is why we want to communicate and control the situation by setting the expectation, not reacting to it.
Remember, your best advocates are your best former and current customers. Reach out today.
A Final Note to Those Struggling to Survive:
For those who are truly on the verge of going out off business, I first want to say, it is not your fault. Unfortunately, life is not always kind or works in our favor. But don’t give up. Go through your customer files and CRM’s and touch base with every single past customer and prospect and be sure to tell them how much their past business was appreciated and even their considerations if they did not buy from you. Thank them for that because you don’t know how happy or unhappy they were with the decision to not buy from you. You never know, it may just take only one of those prospects to send in a big order and get you up and humming along again.