The pandemic continues to change the hours and operational standards of several small businesses in the region. Customers are wondering: Can I walk into this business? When are they open (days/times)? Do they offer curbside options? Can I order online?
We know how important every dollar is to your business right now. We also know that a frustrated consumer is less likely to continue patronizing your business. Here are a few suggestions and a new tool to effectively communicate your level of consumer contact:
- Scan all your social media that have an “hours” component, and make sure they accurately reflect your operation.- If it says it on Facebook it must be true, right? A large portion of your consuming public use social media like a search engine. If they see that you are open via your social media page, but you aren’t actually open, they get frustrated. The pandemic is creating a lot of brand volatility right now, and consumers that get frustrated with one brand are likely to switch to another. Check your information on all of your social media sites, and then make any necessary adjustments.
- We hate for you to add one more thing to your signs, but how customers can spend with you is pretty important information.- A lot of windows are looking like the 1971 hit by the Five Man Electrical Band “Signs”. Everywhere there is a sign, noting policies, procedures, consumer requests and more. Make sure you are clearly communicating your hours and how people can spend with your business within your signage. It’s a delicate balance between clutter and information, but you need to let customers know when/how they can spend with you. Just this week we saw a group of frustrated people outside of a business with their hours listed on a sign indicating they should be open, when they weren’t. The customers left frustrated, and they are probably unsure if they can trust any of the hours listed on signage. Look at the front of your building. Do hours listed reflect current reality?
- Check “third party” sites to ensure that your information is correct.- Just because you didn’t put your information on-line doesn’t mean other agencies refrained from posting. Google your business on a consistent basis to make sure that your information is listed correctly.
- Make sure that your website contains accurate hours of operation.- Some of your business websites are fairly dynamic with consistent updates.- Make sure that the information on your website (hours of operation and content information) is correct and current. If there hasn’t been a content change for a while, it is probably time to do that. If you don’t know how to access your website, please contact Emporia Main Street and we will get you in touch with local agencies.
- Communicate your week and reinforce your day to your consumers.- Consumers still want to plan their week, but they need reinforcement to act as that last “push” to engage with a business. Modern algorithms may delay your posts so you miss consumer engagement on “day of” activities, but a weekly “what’s up” can help people plan in advance. Supplementing weekly calendars with a reminder of that day’s activities can provide some additional frequency to influence consumer behavior.
- When you make hours/days adjustments, make sure you recheck all the items listed above.- Your internal standards, hours, days of operation, and more will continue to change. As those changes take place, you need to update all the information listed above.
I know that having correct hours/sales conduits listed seems pretty basic, but we are fighting some pretty significant COVID fatigue within our small businesses. Some folks have been running on fumes for a while, and when that happens we get decision paralysis. Taking a few minutes to ensure that your basics are covered ensures that your business isn’t losing “easy” sales (nothing is super easy these days, but you know what we mean).