Here’s how small businesses can inspire and encourage their community to support their work during this period of uncertainty.
Here's what you need to know:
- Do what you can to remind customers that you’re still available. Some ideas are placing signage outside your store and updating your social media profiles
- Some customers are still paying for services, even if they can’t use them right now. Consider offering those customers free services in the future for every service paid for during the shutdown
- Give your customers the ability to secure services with you in the future — gift cards are a great way to do that
- Encourage satisfied customers to write a positive review online of your business
- Let people with relevant experience donate their time to your business if they offer
- One of the best ways to encourage support is to give it, so go out and support local businesses too
It’s no secret that the novel coronavirus pandemic has hit small businesses particularly hard. Even the aid designed to go to them has been criticized for being snatched up by big businesses bending the rules of Paycheck Protection Program loans. However, there is a desire among consumers to support small businesses.
Americans are spending less money in response to the economic downfall that came on the heels of the pandemic. According to a recent survey of 1,000 Americans from Finance Buzz, supporting local business remains a priority.
30% of respondents said that they’re spending “significantly less” while another 33% said they’re spending slightly less. Despite also finding that 1 in 5 Americans don’t have the financial resources to support small businesses at the moment, “close to half of all survey respondents indicated they’d ordered takeout from a local restaurant and 15% said they shopped local when placing an online order,” the report found.
“Close to half of all survey respondents indicated they’d ordered takeout from a local restaurant and 15% said they shopped local when placing an online order,” the report found.
While customres want to support local businesses but can’t right now, there are plenty who still can and a good chunk who are dedicated to doing so. That means that there’s an opportunity for small businesses to remind their supporters of all the ways they can help curing the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re unsure how to make the most of the goodwill going around right now, here’s how small businesses like yours can inspire and encourage your community to support your work during these troubling times.
6 Ways To Encourage Customers To Support Your Business
Remind customers that you’re still here
This might seem obvious, but it’s hard for customers to keep up with who is closed, who is operating under reduced hours, and who is open for business as always. So, as a small business, do what you can to remind customers that you’re still available!
Here are some steps you can take:
- Use social media to remind customers of new hours or new online ordering or delivery options
- Post signs outside your business that let passersby know that you’re still open, especially if you’re still able to allow customers inside your store
Encourage customers to keep paying for services
Finance Buzz found that 14% of respondents are still paying for childcare services, even if they can’t use them right now. 12% of respondents are still paying for house cleaning services, and 10% for personal care services like nail appointments and haircuts. If you have repeat customers scheduled for recurring services, remind them that you would welcome any kind of continued support they can give. Consider offering things like a free service down the line for every service paid for during the shutdown.
Offer gift cards or accept deposits for future business
It might be hard to see it right now, but someday this will all be over, so give your customers the ability to secure services with you in the future.
It might be hard to see it right now, but someday this will all be over, so give your customers the ability to secure services with you in the future in whatever form makes sense to you. Gift cards are a great way to bring money in the door while deferring business. The same goes for reservations that come with deposits for events in the future. Just because customers can’t use something right now doesn’t mean they can’t someday.
Tell satisfied customers to write a glowing review
Support doesn’t always have to be in monetary form. If people are asking about ways they can help that don’t involve financial contributions, encouraging them to take to the pages of Yelp, Trip Advisor, Facebook and the like to leave a positive review of their experience(s) with your business is always an option. There’s nothing that can replace word-of-mouth advertising and once business picks back up again, all those positive reviews will contribute to business again.
Be open to free professional consulting or advice
All kinds of people are furloughed, out of work, or experiencing a slowdown at work and finding themselves with extra time on their hands and nowhere to go. Why not let people with relevant experience donate their time to your business during quarantine? If a regular customer asks how they can help, and you remember from a conversation a while ago that they’re a social media marketing manager, why not ask them for tips for improving your social media presence? Maybe you always had interest in starting a blog but weren’t quite sure how to do it? Now you’ve got an expert at your door asking for ways to help.
Support local businesses yourself
In addition to providing valuable business or other forms of support to your local small business community, one of the best ways to encourage support is to give it. By helping others, they might just be inspired to choose your restaurant next time they want takeout or plan to buy a car from your local dealership once this is all over. You reap what you sow, so why not sow some good?