I have been assisting a few businesses deemed Essential Services and have set them up and helped them to operate contactless during Level 4 lockdown. Here are 12 practical things business owners could consider to help with planning for opening in Level 3 based on what we’ve learned in the past few weeks.
1. Prepare Now – Get your order system and all other planning done as soon as possible. The first few days could be crazy busy, and a huge learning curve for your team. Relax, breathe and be flexible.
2. Communicate With Your Customers – There is going to be a lot of promotional noise from businesses as soon as a move to Level 3 is announced, if you don’t want to get caught up in it and lost in the online chatter, start building your audience now. Engage with people, let them know what your plans are and what you have been up to.
3. New to Online? Reduce Your Offering – curate a reduced number of products, don’t try to do everything at once, if you’re selling food limit your menu but consider changing out your offering weekly, or do a special to mix things up.
4. Order Cut-off Times – be very clear about your order cut off times and delivery time frames. This will ensure your customers know exactly what to expect and will reduce email enquiries.
5. Opening Times – ensure your customers know what time you are ‘open’ so that they’ll be aware if they contact outside of these that there may be a delay in response. Online ordering is open 24/7, but you don’t have to be. Switch off at a set time each evening and don’t check your emails until morning.
6. Delivery – make sure you know at the outset what your delivery capacity is. If you are using external couriers or contract drivers ensure you know exactly how they intend to operate and their delivery limits. Remember they are extraordinarily busy during this time and there may be delays.
7. Delivery Pricing – ensure you have delivery pricing set for each area you cover and that it is clearly advertised.
8. Driver Safety – Clearly state on all delivery orders and customer communication “do not approach our drivers”. People will be excited and may rush out to receive their deliveries. If you are using your own staff as delivery drivers ensure you have given them all the tools they need to provide a safe, contactless service.
9. Admin/Ordering – automate your admin wherever possible, use a website or other ordering platform if you can. Messenger and email are great but if/when you get busy this will become very time consuming.
10. Dealing With Customers Online – 95% of the people you deal with will be amazing, there will however be 5% who are very challenging. Don’t take it personally. Remember all of the happy customers you have, breathe and try to address any problems quickly. I’d recommend a phone call rather than email if you can – 5 minutes on the phone may save you 4-5 emails.
11. Promotion/Advertising – there are many options now open that are free. From Radio, and Websites to Social Media make sure you keep your brand in front of people. This doesn’t mean a ‘hard sell’, just keep people up to date, invite them to share their experiences and engage them. Remember your customers are still in their ‘bubbles’, you’ll need to be creative in getting messaging to them over the entire length of Level 3. While it may be insanely busy in the first week, things will normalise and you will still need to promote.
12. Schedule A Day Off – while it’s tempting to leap back into business seven days a week to try to recoup lost earnings from the closures, make sure you don’t overdo it.
Best wishes for a safe return to business.
Sarah Ferguson, Creative Plan
Sarah is a marketing professional, living and working on the Kapiti Coast following a 20 year corporate career in Marketing, Communications and PR in Auckland.