People are scared right now. And whether you think what we’re facing is a dangerous situation or overblown by the media, your customers are getting more worried about the Coronavirus every minute. Right now, that’s what matters to your business.
So how do you keep them coming in? Or, if they don’t want to walk through your doors, how do you keep their business? Here are your action items for keeping customers during an outbreak:
When people are scared, they stay indoors. Of course, this is going to impact your foot traffic.
The low-hanging fruit is to be as safe as possible.
If you have plush chairs in the waiting room, replace them with plastic or steel. If you supply toys for kids in your waiting area, opt for books with laminated pages (and let your customers see you disinfecting them regularly).
Major events, which mean lots of people in a small space, may see slumps in attendance. With virus fears in the back of their minds, people will change their habits and shun large crowds. Now might be a good time to cut your losses and postpone events that rely on a big crowd to turn a profit.
Do you have options that don’t require your customers to come into your business? This is an area where you can give your customers peace of mind AND potentially save some money as well.
If you’re in retail, why not offer to run pre-purchased products to your customers’ cars, so they don’t have to come inside? If you can provide home delivery, even better. A portion of your customers will start to avoid public areas whenever possible, and unless you’re selling essential goods, that will probably include you.
If you operate in a professional services office, do your customers have to come in as often as they do? Do they need to sit in that waiting area where everyone sits and coughs and hangs out in those comfy plush chairs, just so they can shake your hand?
Consider offering more services via video conferencing. There are times that you need face-to-face, but everything from presentations to signing documents is now easy to do remotely. It’s more convenient for your customers, and it allows you to be more flexible with your time.
Supply Chain Issues
If you rely heavily on a China-based supply chain, Coronavirus is likely to affect you the most. Since the SARS outbreak in 2003, we’ve become far more reliant on Chinese goods.
Peaking in mid-March and expected to last a while, the interruption in imports will affect broad swaths of the economy, from manufacturing to luxury goods. If you have local sources that you can investigate, now is the time to make some calls.
Some companies, like Apple, have a reserve of raw materials built up for such an issue, so it will be a few months before the average consumer starts to feel the pinch. How long the pinch lasts depends, of course, on how fast and far the virus spreads and its impact on the supply chain.
This is the time to protect your livelihood the same way you protect your own health. Look for any possible area where the virus can find its way into your books, and find solutions now—before your business starts showing symptoms.