Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Solidifying The Digital Footprint Of Your Small Business
- Free Food Delivery + Home Quarantine Supplies
- Same-Day Delivery
- Free Pickup & Delivery
- Curbside Service
- Offer Traveling Services
- Temporarily Pivoting Your Business Model
- Promote & Sell Gift Cards
- Virtual Tours & Test Drives
- Virtual Events For Children’s Stores
- Virtual Events For Entertainment Brands
- Virtual Medical Services
- Embracing Mobile Payment Options
- Cut Costs Now!
- Creative Small Business Strategies For Generating Revenue During The Coronavirus Quarantine
Change or die. That’s the reality facing many small businesses around the world right now. How can your small business survive when most of your customers are trapped at home during the Coronavirus quarantine? Here are some creative small business strategies and thought starters from organizations adapting to Coronavirus quarantine restrictions across the United States.
Solidifying The Digital Footprint Of Your Small Business
Many of the Coronavirus business strategies in this article require that small businesses have an active digital presence. If you have been putting off setting up a blog, newsletter or social media presence for your company, then take advantage of your time in quarantine and make these forms of digital communication a priority. Think of your digital presence as your digital storefront.
- Website: Every site visitor is the equivalent of a business walk-in. Your website should have updated info, products and contact info for your business. Customers will likely have a lot of questions as they adjust to daily life while in quarantine. Make sure you consider installing a chat plug-in on your website. This will allow customers to easily ask you questions in real-time using What’s App, Facebook Messenger or other services.
- Blog: Any major announcements should get posted on your blog. Not only do blog posts give you an opportunity to embed rich media like YouTube videos, but they are also great for SEO (search engine optimization).
- Digital Business Listings: While you are reviewing your digital presence, make sure you also update your business info on services like Facebook Places, Yelp and Google My Business. This info feeds discovery platforms like Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Google Search.
- Social Media: Your social media accounts will play a critical role in your social media strategy during the Coronavirus outbreak. Expand and optimize your social presence. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can help drive traffic and tell the story of how your business is trying to adapt to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Newsletter: Don’t underestimate the power of being in a customer’s inbox. Most people start their day by checking their mail on their smartphones. If you have an important business announcement, then make sure you send out an email to your customers. Be sure to include your address, phone number, and website URL in every email. Being able to contact your business should be as easy as tapping on a link.
Business Strategies & Revenue Thought Starters
Local businesses are already starting to get creative on how to operate and survive without daily walk-in traffic. Here are some examples and thought starters from small businesses across the United States.
Free Food Delivery + Home Quarantine Supplies
Cucina Deli: If your customers can’t come to your restaurant, then bring your food to them. That’s the strategy being utilized by many restaurants right now. In many cases, the wait staff has shifted for waiting on tables to delivering food.
But some savvy restaurants are delivering more than just food. When the Coronavirus first started spreading in Utah, one of the first items to fly off the shelves was toilet paper. Even the Costco in downtown Salt Lake City, the largest Costco location in the world, was 100% wiped out of toilet paper and paper towels. To help customers in need, owner Dean Pierose announced that his restaurant, Cucina, would start providing customers with (1) free roll of toilet paper with each food delivery order.
- Save your quarantined customers a trip and give them an experience that they’ll share. What else can you bring them?
Caputo’s Market: Many stores and restaurants don’t normally offer delivery. But to meet the needs of its customers during the Coronavirus quarantine, Caputo’s Market started offering free food delivery and free grocery delivery on items from their market.
- Large retailers like Amazon offer free 2-day shipping. Give customers a reason to shop local with even faster shipping than Amazon. Offer 1-day or even same-day delivery.
Free Pickup & Delivery
If your customers can’t come to you, then go to them. From dry cleaners to computer repair, picking up goods and returning them after they’ve been serviced can help keep small businesses operating during a quarantine.
- Not everyone in quarantine has a car. With most mass transit systems shutdown, free pickup and delivery can be a huge value proposition for customers in need.
Bad Apple Repair: When customers couldn’t come into their store anymore, Bad Apple, a smartphone repair company in Salt Lake City, moved their customer interactions curbside. Customers can call when they are ready to pick up or drop off and someone will greet them curbside. In addition to asking customers to clean their devices before dropping them off, the company said via email: “We are keeping our stores extra clean, ensuring no employees are working sick, and also cleaning devices after we work on them.”
- Limited and safe customer interactions at the curb can help keep your business operational even when customers can’t come inside. Just be sure to take payment over the phone to avoid handling money and credit cards.
Offer Traveling Services
Crowell’s Flying Wrench: Companies like Flying Wrench offer repair services that come to your home or business. Just leave your lawnmower or small engine item in your driveway. They will come over, repair it, and send you a bill.
- This is a great example of social distancing. No physical interaction required. Can your business provide services without interacting with the customer?
Temporarily Pivoting Your Business Model
There’s been a massive spike in demand for both homes and businesses to get deep cleaned. One of the biggest challenges cleaning services face right now isn’t a lack of customers, but a shortage of staff.
- Every school, office, and retail business will need a deep clean before workers can return. Power washing companies, painters and other organizations are temporarily shifting their business model to take advantage of this opportunity. Only small teams can work on jobs. Can your business pivot to meet this need? Adding to the problem is the social distancing of the cleaning staff. Don’t forget to focus on worker safety and to obey any interaction restrictions by local authorities!
Promote & Sell Gift Cards
Not every business will have the ability to adapt to a quarantine. Something that all local businesses can do today is to sell gift cards. This will give the community an opportunity to help their favorite local businesses survive until they can reopen. You can see a list of restaurants across the country selling gift cards here. Also, some local organizations like KOSI radio in Denver have created local curations of companies selling gift cards.
Virtual Tours & Test Drives
Between store closures and social distancing, buying a car, home, boat, RV or other large items right now is challenging. One thing that businesses can start doing is virtual tours. If a customer is interested in a vehicle or home, a salesperson or realtor can give then a full tour using a video chat app like FaceTime. Or upload a private video to YouTube, so the customer can watch the video at their convenience.
Vehicles can even be outfitted with multiple GoPro cameras for virtual test drive experiences for customers.
- How else can you use video chat and video content to bring your products and services closer to your customers while in quarantine?
Virtual Events For Children’s Stores
Small businesses that sell children’s clothing, books, and other merchandise will especially be impacted by an extended quarantine. Regular customers will be tempted to order items online from companies like Amazon. In addition to offering free or fast local delivery of your merchandise, local children’s businesses can also start offering virtual events for their communities.
For kids still learning how to read, storytime can be an important part of their daily educational routine. Creative schools, influencers like Dr. Tamare Piersaint and local businesses including the King’s English Bookshop are organizing virtual storytime activities on Facebook, YouTube, and other streaming services. Teachers, employees and even parents are taking turns reading to a virtual audience of kids from their community.
- So how do you monetize story time? Promote local delivery or gift cards to the parents who will be watching with their kids. Remind them that you are still open for business. And if you build a big enough audience, you might even be able to get a local sponsor, like a grocery store.
Virtual Events For Entertainment Brands
Most zoos, aquariums, planetariums, gardens, ranches, concert halls, clubs, landmarks, and other entertainment venues have all closed during the Coronavirus Outbreak. But some brands are adapting and innovating.
- Virtual Venue Tours: The Cincinnati Zoo is offering virtual tours of their facilities and animal enclosures for their community.
- Virtual Dance Clubs: DJ D-Nice couldn’t perform in a club during the quarantine, so he started a #ClubQuarantine hashtag on Instagram Live and gathered 100,000 people to listen to his stream.
- Quarantine Watch Parties: As the Coronavirus started spreading across the United States, Twitter user Spencer Hall tweeted an interesting thought. What if we all watched the same movie at the same time in our individual homes? A few days later, @BrandonDavisBD organized a #QuarantineWatchParty for The Avengers with thousands of participants. This is a great idea for local movie theaters, bars, coffee shops, Pilates studios or businesses with strong communities. Although watch parties aren’t necessarily part of a revenue strategy, they can be part of your social media marketing efforts. Keep your customers engaged and your business top of mind even during a quarantine.
- Virtual Film Events: MGM didn’t have to delay Daniel Craig‘s the premiere of the final James Bond because of the quarantine. The movie studio could have partnered with a company like YouTube and created a digital world premiere. Film stars could even participate during the premiere by live-tweeting. Local film festivals could do the same thing. They could have a series of live film premieres where directors and actors participate using social media and then make the films available on demand.
- Organize and promote virtual tours, events, and experiences for your community using Facebook Live or another free streaming service.
Virtual Medical Services
- Drive Through Medicine: Davis Hospital in Layton, UT is offering drive-through COVID-19 testing for patients with a physician referral. This provides social distancing and helps limit how many people have to go inside medical facilities
- Counseling Services: Dealing with the stress and hardships of a global pandemic isn’t easy, especially for people who normally rely on regular interactions with therapists and counselors. Councilors are turning to video conferencing to keep in touch with their patients.
Embracing Mobile Payment Options
Handling cash, credit cards, and other physical payment methods does not conform to social distancing protocols. However, virtual payment services like Venmo, Bitcoin, PayPal, and Square Cash among others all give customers the ability to send you cash from their smartphones. No touching required.
Cut Costs Now!
The Coronavirus will likely be as devastating as a major recession. Cut whatever costs that you can now.
- Lease & Rent Exceptions: Do you have a force majeure clause in your lease paperwork? If so, you might be able to pause your rent because of the Coronavirus.
- Hiring Freeze: If you have open job positions, then take them down.
- Halt Large Purchases & Projects: Renovations, new equipment, contract renewals, and any other large purchases or capital expenses should get stopped right away.
- Ask For Discounts: The Coronavirus might give you some leverage. See if you can get discounts for paying bills on time or even pre-paying them if you are able.
- Ask For Extensions: Call every business that you deal with on a regular basis and ask for payment extensions. Not everyone will be in a position to help you, but some might.
- Reduce All Expenses:
- Freeze employee purchases, except for pre-approved items
- Close offices
- Limit travel
- Eliminate dress codes (dry cleaning)
- And whatever else that you can live without… for now
Creative Small Business Strategies For Generating Revenue During The Coronavirus Quarantine
Local businesses can be very vulnerable to even small changes in spending by their consumers. But our modern world has never faced a global pandemic like this before. These small business strategies and thought starters all focused on practicing social distancing and trying to flatten the curve. Hopefully, the Coronavirus will just be a bad memory and not a permanent part of our lives.
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Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.