It’s a tough, unprecedented situation that we are finding ourselves in right now. But the good news is that Coronavirus won’t last forever. I will bet my last slice of cake as soon as lockdowns are over and the virus outbreak has died out, people will be rushing to plan their parties. In the meantime, it’s time to get into recession mode to help your business ride this very big wave. Here are some tips that might help with coping during this difficult time.
1. Focus on cash
Cash flow is king and whilst it is easier said than done when hard times hit, it’s never too late to put in a budget plan to manage cash flow as opposed to just profit. If profit is revenue less expenses, then cash flow is knowing the amount of money coming in and out at any given time – and is fundamental to keeping your business operating on a day to day basis.
2. Update your payment terms
Now is a good time to think about reducing your payment due dates or slightly increasing your deposits to help your cash flow in faster.
3. Focus on marketing to your customer existing base
It’s cheaper to market to your current customer bases. Run programs such as Refer a Friend, early-bird booking offers, rewards or another incentive that can help secure business down the line.
4. Implement customer experience improvements
These do not need to be expensive or time-consuming. There are a bundle of free business apps and services available to help you make life easier for your customers. This could be as simple as a Google forms order page on a free WIX site.
5. Review your inventory or suppliers
Review what you are holding to help you save an extra dollar or two. Could you be ordering more of something at a cheaper price? Or are you keeping too much on the shelf? Perhaps your supplier may offer drop shipping. Stylists, do you have any items you keep as part of your hire range that is no longer needed? Sell them on Facebook Marketplace for free!
6. Niche down
Trying to diversify your business in an effort to stay afloat in a time when everyone is in an economic panic is probably not the greatest of ideas. You might end up wasting too much time and money trying to set up something new when you could be focusing and improving on your strengths. Focus on what you do best.
7. Go the extra mile
It’s often too hard to put those customer follow-up practices into place during a busy period. Now is the time to hone in on going the extra mile for any customers who come your way. Treat them like royalty –they’ll remember you for it by recommending your business to their friends when good times roll around.
8. Scale down your range and let your customers know
If possible, offer a scaled-down version of your offering. For example smaller cakes for an intimate celebration or a small styling package for a couple of cousins or close friends. As humans, we still want to have something to look forward too, and it’s likely many people may still want celebrations, albeit toned-down versions. This is also a great message to get out to your previous customers, who may have been thinking about reaching out again but unsure given the current circumstances.
9. Offer value without heavy discounts
Heavily discounting your products at this time is not what you want to do – however, offering value in your range is another way to help gain a competitive edge. For example, offering a free printable with any purchase.
10. Don’t cut back on marketing
Smart businesses know that ongoing marketing efforts give them a competitive edge. It’s often said that, “when times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise.” There are several reasons including – lower costs, lack of competitors advertising offers the perception of business strength and helps keep your business front of mind for consumers – which brings us to the next point.
11. Your brand is everything
Consistently putting your message and brand in front of consumers is the reason why it is so important to maintaining advertising in a downturn. The good news is, you also have your own free mediums to maintain and push out your brand – social media. Even if you have to shut down your website and stop advertising, you can still maintain your presence in the market and push out your message via your social media. In fact, if stronger branding is something you need to work on, now is the time.
12. Research free listings
Now is a good time to look into free directory listings for your business, and don’t forget the biggest directory in the world – Google. Make sure you set up your Google My Business account so you don’t miss out on potential customers in search mode.
Finally – we do believe there are ways the virus threat can be mitigated during social gatherings. Currently, the messaging around Coronavirus in Australia is ‘social distancing’ and gatherings are not entirely banned. As long as hygiene practises (gloves, hand-washing and sanitiser) are followed, there are plenty of means to host gatherings and things that can be done such as:
- confine gathering to outdoors
- space guest chairs apart
- provide single-serve food in packages
- only allow 1 or 2 people to handle food
- do not allow guests to serve themselves
- keep children occupied with scheduled activities (no free play periods)
- shorten the duration of the party
- innovate with ‘no-cut’ birthday cakes
- turn your edible product into a DIY activity for customers who prefer reduced handling
These are definitely measures you could discuss with any potential clients sitting on the fence at this difficult time.
We wish you all the best during these difficult times.
Take care and keep safe.