Like many small business owners, you may be preparing to reopen your brick-and-mortar business after months of operating solely online. Your doors will be open soon but will your customers walk through them? To have a successful reboot, customer communication will be crucial in the coronavirus economy. As the big day draws near, here are some steps to help you clearly and effectively communicate your reopening to your customers.
Your customers need to feel confident that your business is a safe and protected environment. It starts with following coronavirus guidelines and regulations. Local governments and regulatory bodies have developed easily accessible guidelines that address health and safety concerns. These guidelines also list employer and employee responsibilities.
As your reopening approaches, stay on top of current scientific information and institute guidelines from cities and federal agencies. You will want to check these guidelines frequently. Monitor online information from the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Labor. Finally, be sure to comply with the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act. For additional information and assistance, here is a list of state and territorial health department websites.
You’ve met sanitation guidelines, trained your staff on coronavirus protocols, and have your in-store inventory organized and ready for purchases. Now it’s time to alert your customers that you are open for business. While you probably have been open online and have possibly offered curbside pickup during the pandemic, allowing customers in any capacity to return to your store is a positive sign that things are moving forward.
Treat your reopening as a celebration. Update your website home page to indicate your new in-store business hours. Ensure your listings on business directories like Google and social media pages also reflects your accurate hours and information. Once you're ready, send out a welcome back email campaign to customers and prospects.
You should also develop social media posts announcing your reopening. It’s been a tough time for almost everyone – create messaging that is positive and upbeat. However, be sure to highlight the requirements for entering your store, including the wearing of masks, social distancing, capacity limitations and other considerations. This will help customers know what to expect and be prepared for the experience. Because some customers may still not be ready to visit you in-person, remind everyone that your online store is always open.
Give your storefront a makeover too. Include balloons and signage indicating your location is open again. Post large and bright signage on your windows, doors and throughout your store indicating what is required for a store visit. Have plenty of hand sanitizer throughout your store and masks available if customers do not bring their own. In addition to keeping customers safe, this will also give them confidence in knowing that you have taken all the necessary precautions to reopen your business.
Let’s face it, some customers are going to have anxiety returning to brick-and-mortar businesses. To ease their minds, you will need to develop new ways to encourage them to make an in-store visit. Why not try a sidewalk sale campaign that moves merchandise outside? For example, move clothing racks outside your store and provide shoppers with a discount. This will make your business more visible during the reopening and give customers an open-air experience that makes them feel safer.
Show clients and customers some love with tried-and-true discounts, partnerships and giveaways. Develop a welcome back reward app. Award your customers points for shopping in your store which can be redeemed for deals and discounts on future purchases.
In our “new normal,” everything is evolving. This is a changing situation that will lead to a lot of questions. Be prepared to answer them in a totally transparent way. It is OK to say, “I don’t know.” If there is a product or service you are not sure you can provide a customer or is not available, tell them you are still figuring some things out and you'll get back to them. Don't overpromise.
Prepare scripts for any customer-facing employees. Anticipate questions customers may ask: “What are you doing to keep your customers safe?” “Are masks required?” Good answers to these questions will show your customers that you are in control and looking out for their safety. As you reopen, being transparent and straightforward will keep your customers coming back.
Also, be ready for anything. If an employee or customer tests positive for coronavirus and has been in your store, you may need to close your location for a period of time. Have messaging ready that indicates your situation and what steps you are taking to keep everyone involved safe.
Your long-anticipated reopening is right around the corner and communication is the key in letting everyone know you are open for business. By following these steps, you will show customers your business is safe and that you care about them. In times of crisis and change, keeping the lines of communications open is one sure way to stay relevant.
Web.com can help you build or refresh your website, develop professional email campaigns and enhance your online store. We are always here to help you through challenging times – and brighter days ahead.