The last few months have been all about survival. Small businesses across the country have been in crisis mode, scrambling to stabilize and stay afloat amid COVID-19. But we are slowly starting to see signs of transition – Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans are being distributed, states are starting to reopen, and many nonessential employees are headed back to work.
But experts have warned, it will be a slow crawl back towards normal. Or whatever normal looks like after a global health crisis.
For some, “normal” is still weeks if not months away. The hardest hit areas of the country still remain locked down. Many areas are still battling to flatten the curve and making tough decisions to try to keep their community safe.
Even those areas opening up are doing so with caution. Masks, social distancing, and limited occupancy are expected. And it is likely some consumers will be slow to return to stores and restaurants even when allowed.
So, what do the weeks and months ahead look like for small businesses?
Unfortunately, we really won’t know until we know. There isn’t a playbook for this kind of thing – it’s a history defining moment. But it is safe to assume customers will think and buy differently.
The good news? More than ever before consumers will be seeking to buy from and work with brands they trust. So, while it’s hard to predict the impact on purchasing habits, focusing on the “digital” integrity of your brand will help position you for long term success.
Customers are looking at what services you are offering to keep them safe.
Social distancing in stores, masks, sanitation, are normal practices in today’s economy. They want communication that resonates and lets them know you are aware of their pain points - another generic email about “being in this together” will likely fall flat.
Are you taking care of your employees?
They also want to know you are keeping your employees safe and are invested in the health and wellbeing of the local community. Can they trust you to care about more than the bottom line?
This really is great news for small businesses that are known for building more personal and trustworthy relationships with the consumer. So, as you start to map out your transition plans, focus first on building and maintaining trust. You can’t control exactly when customers return to purchasing, but you can provide a trustworthy experience for them to return to.