Getting back to business means going on the offence.
Every business got punched unexpectedly by COVID-19. Some couldn’t recover and stayed down. Others adapted and got back up.
This guide covers the best practices we’re seeing that will help your business get back in the ring to win the next round!
We outline several simple steps you can take to get your business moving in the direction of growth in a post-COVID-19 world.
We’re confident that we’ll come out of this thing stronger than ever!
Inside the Guide:
- Develop A Plan
1. Develop A Plan
The first 90 days
Cash flow planning is a MUST.
If you haven’t created a cash flow planning document that covers your inflows and outflows of cash on a week-to-week or monthly basis, that is your first step.
Serial Entrepreneur and business coach Warren Coughlin developed this cash flow tool. It is by far the best cash flow tool we have ever used at Intrigue, and we’ll continue to use it long after this pandemic.
Under normal, pre-coronavirus circumstances, financial planning was long term (e.g. 10 years) and short term (e.g. one year).
In our current circumstances, we need to shift how we define long term and short term planning. Long term is now one year or even 90 days, and short term is now 90 days or even a week!
This will help you stay flexible as you learn how customers will respond to your business as you open up.
Here are some samples of annual goals:
- Stay in business
- Build a new revenue stream that is 10% of overall revenue
- Maintain 5% or 10% profitability
- Open a new market of customers in the XYZ segment
- Maintain neutral cash flow or better for the year
Here are some samples of 90 Day goals:
- Get everyone back to work
- Break even for the quarter
- Achieve 75% of Pre-COVID-19 monthly sales revenue
- 5% Profit
- 100 New Opportunities in the pipeline
- Create a new safety procedure for your customers and team
This can include getting Contagion Certified. Click here to learn more about the certification to build confidence for your customer and your team.
Granted, your team’s structure may be different. The goal is to focus your resources on what brings the most value to your customers and your company.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you define your goals:
- Where does the gross margin exist in your products or services?
- What products or services should you consider letting go of right now in order to streamline your focus?
- What changes can you make in your product, delivery, or messaging to cater to your customers current and future needs?
- What trends are happening in the marketplace that you can leverage your capabilities toward?
Do not plan alone!
Many entrepreneurs have isolated themselves from their teams and in some cases, their customers. Now is the time to get everyone involved. Get your team brainstorming and involve your clients to help you answer the questions above.
How to get your team involved
Here are some simple ways you can involve your team in the process of reopening your business and achieving growth targets:
- Share what the business needs to accomplish in order to grow
- Provide a platform for idea sharing:
- Virtual team lunches
- Think, pair, share
- Internal communications channel (e.g. Slack)
- Team lead meetings
- An email thread
- Communicate daily (or as often as possible)
- Let your team know you’re available to speak with them if they have any questions, concerns, or ideas
- Ask your team what they think the company should be doing
If you’d like to learn more about getting your team involved and engaged in the reopening process, we’re hosting an event! Click here to RSVP.
How to get your clients involved
- Create a platform to bring your clients together
- Town Hall-style virtual meetings
- Virtual chat platform
- Send them a poll (e.g. in an email)
- What do they want to see when you’re back in business?
- What would make them comfortable to come back to your store/business/office?
- Keep in touch regularly
- Ask them how they’re doing.
People want to know you care! People also buy on emotion so your empathy and listening could go a long way.
New policies and procedures are going to be required.
You need to tell your team and your customers how you’re going to keep them safe. A good place to begin is the Ontario government website where you can see what guidelines each industry is required to follow.
We also suggest you look at getting your business certified.
Intrigue has partnered with an assessment company to get you Contagion Certified.
About Orion Assessment Services:
Orion Assessment Services is a privately owned and operated second and third party standards auditing firm. They implement audit programs to corporate, industry, international, and internal standards. Their audit team includes multi-lingual auditors across North America with expertise in virtually all industry sectors.
Standards & Accreditations
Whether your business needs to implement international standards or establish a plan for an entirely new set of standards for your industry or association, Orion is a fully qualified partner.
Once you have your new policies and procedures identified, be sure to conduct training with your team on your new approach and consider building an inventory of what people have been trained on, even if it’s a simple spreadsheet. That way you’ll know who has received the proper training as you focus your efforts on getting the entire organization prepared. This will also ensure you’re prepared should your business have a health and safety inspection performed by government officials.
Organize a video call to go over key points and outline your training program with your team.
When it comes to providing the training, this could possibly be done over a video conference as well. If your training is digital, make sure to record these videos and include them in the documentation so that staff can reference it and you can use it for training any new staff that come onboard.
You will want to document that training has been done. Have team members sign a document that confirms they’ve been trained on new policies and procedures.
What are the new short and long term goals for your company?
It’s imperative that you and your team are clear on what the objectives are. Is everyone’s focus on revenue, profit, customer engagement, cash Flow?
Whatever it is, make sure everyone knows — explicitly — what the core focus is and how you’re tracking your progress.
Review this goal with your team on a weekly basis.
With respect to different organizational roles, drawing clear lines between each team member and their direct impact on the goal(s) gives people a sense of purpose. Work with your managers to ensure every team member has had a 1:1 conversation to understand their impact in the organization and its goals.
Here’s a video on developing a strategy, not strategic planning 🙂
Clear, concise, consistent communication with team members and clients is integral in the best of times but an extra emphasis should be put on communication in a post-COVID-19 world.
People are feeling a range of emotions (confused, nervous, scared, etc.) and as the leader of an organization, it is incumbent on you to provide them with the details they need to trust you.
This is a time to build loyalty and trust with your team. Ensure your team has clarity on where the business is financially, what the goals are, and how they are directly tied to the meeting organizational goals.
With your business preparing to open there is a lot going on so keeping your team informed of the changes is essential.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Emails: Send a weekly email to let your team know what is going on in the company. Summarize any new processes or decisions that have been made.
- One on one phone/video call: Ensure you and/or your management team has regular phone calls with each team member. Get a pulse on how they’re doing — Not only at work but at home as well.
- Group video calls: Allow your team to see and speak to one another. Keep workplace relationships flourishing.
- Survey the team: Ask them questions in emails or on calls:
- “What do you want to see us do to protect you?”
- “What do you think we should do to protect our customers”
- Document sharing: Training documentation can be shared now, while people are working from home. No matter what you do, you’ll need to provide proof at some point — especially if the Ministry of Labour ever gets involved — that you provided training. Getting this started sooner rather than later will serve your team and your organization.
Bringing your team back after layoffs.
If you had to layoff employees to keep the company afloat, there are steps to bringing them back on board.
The simplest step is a recall of employment. You can give them a call and invite them back to work.
However, if someone doesn’t want to come back to work, you should consider:
- Is it because they don’t feel safe?
- Is it because they have childcare issues?
- Is it because they don’t want to work for you anymore?
While you can’t predict every reason why someone may not want to come back to work, you should prepare accordingly for these types of responses.
If someone is refusing to come back to work, you may need to consult a lawyer. For those who live in the Guelph, Wellington and Tri-Cities area, we highly recommend Carol VandenKoech from Miller Thomson. She has been incredible for our team and our organization. You can reach Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email, Email, Email
If there was ever a time to demonstrate the value of email, it’s now.
A strong email list driven by a CRM is worth its weight in gold. Being able to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time without needing to pay for ad space is virtually priceless.
If you want more info on how to leverage your email list using a CRM, register for our next event here.
As a quick tip, here are some awesome statistics on subject lines that came from a study conducted by LinkedIn.
Words to avoid:
- Subject lines that include the words “COVID” or “Coronavirus” reduce reply rate by 40%
- Subject lines that include the word “Together” reduce reply rate by 52%
- Subject lines that include the word “Help” reduce reply rate by 32%
- Subject lines that include the word “Remotely” reduce reply rate by 77%
Word to use:
- Subject lines that include the word “Hoping” have increased reply rates of 11% than that of last year
- Subject lines that include the word “Coaching” have increased reply rates of 32% than that of last year
- Subject lines that include the word “Partnership” have increased reply rates of 79% than that of last year
- Subject lines that include the word “Checking in” have increased reply rates of 101% than that of last year
- Subject lines that include the word “Meeting” have increased reply rates of 34% than that of last year
- Subject lines that include the word “Call” have increased reply rates of 175% than that of last year
Here are some ways you can let people know how your business is doing and how you’re going to serve them moving forward:
- Let people know HOW you’re open
- Are you limited to online interactions?
- Do you have curbside pickup or delivery options available?
- When will you be available for customers in terms of hours in the day?
- Let people know how they’ll be safe
- Are you Contagion Certified? Download the Contagion Certified Standard here.
- Do you have new policies and procedures in place?
- What are you doing to ensure everyone is safe?
- Provide Value
- People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.
- What information can you give people to help them make a good decision when it comes to buying your product or service?
- As an example: If you’re in landscaping, what should people be considering in terms of the most important aspect of their yard? How can they host people outdoors? What should they be looking at when it comes to deciding what kind of landscape options they have? We have a number of other ideas and strategies. If you’d like to learn more, register for one of our events here.
This is as straightforward as it gets.
Get on the phone and talk to your customers. Let them know about the information above. Get ahead of the massive tidal wave of advertising and marketing coming when everything opens up again. It will take time but it will be extremely well received if you do it properly.
If your relationship is transactional with your customers, keep the conversion a little lighter:
“Hi ________, did I catch you at a bad time? It’s Rob calling from __________ do you mind if I take 30 seconds to tell why I’m calling? I just wanted to let you know that ABC Company is opening up and we’ll be available to support you by example, example, example. If you need anything at all we’re here for you and the best way to contact us is ____________.
Is there anything you need help with at the moment?”
If your customer relationship is more consultative, then consider asking some of these questions to deepen the conversation and avoid, “How are you doing?”
- How are you taking care of yourself today?
- What part of your home have you come to appreciate the most?
- What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (that isn’t toilet paper)?
- What’s a story (from a book, a movie, an article, a conversation) that you’ve been gripped by recently? Why did it capture you?
- What habit have you started, or broken, during the quarantine?
- Which specific place in your neighbourhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?
- What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?
- What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?
- What’s something you own that feels useful?
- What problem — either your problem or something more global — do you wish you could solve?
All of these ideas translate to Social Media.
If you can, leverage video content to tell your story and share your message. People buy from people. Having a face to your business makes you more approachable and humanizes the business. Make sure the lighting is good and that you’re smiling, but the most important thing is to try it out.
Ditto. Getting your message clear on your home page is crucial.
Consider setting up a COVID-19 response page or an FAQ page so that people can see how you’re handling all of this. You can refer to this information resource on your social media feeds and in your emails to customers.
Here’s an example from one of our clients:
Email, Email, Email
It might sound like we’re repeating ourselves, so let me put that to bed. WE ARE!!! Your email list is your most important marketing asset outside of your website (And it’s a close second.)
Consumers are online now more than ever and they’re watching what brands are doing and engaging with content. This is the time to build your brand reputation and create positive relationships with potential customers. How can you give them value, create engaging and fun content? This could include a variety of things such as:
- Short tip videos
- Team & customer highlights
- Educational tips
Don’t do nothing! Although social media might not result in sales now, your customers and prospects will remember the relationships and positive brand recognition you build. Again, people buy emotionally!
Now is the time to get in front of your potential customers. A lot of your competitors have probably stopped their marketing efforts so there is more opportunity to get the attention of your customers. When businesses officially open the floodgates for advertising will too. This means it will be harder to get your brand name out.
We have also seen the price to advertise go down year over year:
- An Insurance company – CPC decreased by 32%
- (Avg. CPC $8.60 to $5.88)
- A Landscaping company – CPC decreased by 29%
- (Avg. CPC $2.70 to $1.92)
- An HVAC Company – CPC decreased by 60%
- (Avg. CPC $1.94 to $0.77)
No matter what you decide to do, being friendly is the most important thing you and your staff can do to make people feel comfortable.
Smile, greet people quickly — like under 5 seconds quickly. If someone enters your business location, they need to know it’s safe and how to conduct themselves while they’re there.
Going back to your planning.
What are your goals? How are you tracking them, and how does everyone in the organization see the progress?
Now, more than ever, people need to see that they’re contributing to the company’s goal(s).
Now that you’re moving towards reopening, it’s important not to put the blinders on. What’s working? what’s not? What do you need to do differently? What do you need to do more of?
The kicker is to stay nimble, stay focused. Develop a weekly cadence to check in on everything you’re doing. Don’t let things sit or go stale.
We hope this guide has empowered you to get back to business and grow through this crazy point in history!
The team at Intrigue