Supporting Small Businesses: What Reopening Looks Like and How We Can Help As Consumers

As summer approaches, shelter-in-place restrictions are beginning to loosen. This means small businesses are starting to open their doors, welcome back customers, and do their best to navigate the new ways of operating their companies.

As someone who owned and operated brick and mortar stores for over 10 years, I understand the realities of what our current situation can do to a small business. Now more than ever it’s important for us to support small businesses and help them get back up on their feet. They are the lifeblood of our communities and the heartbeat of rebuilding our economy. Every business will face different challenges when reopening and getting customers into the door – and customers will play a pivotal roll in helping these businesses. So, I’ve asked the WerrrkForce – three experts from the new business reality show, Werrrk! from Mailchimp – for their small business tips not only for business owners but for consumers. Whether you’re a business owner or consumer, we will all have to adapt to new ways of working and shopping, whether that means the ways we communicate, operate, or show our appreciation.

Keep scrolling for the WerrrkForce’s suggestions on how to make reopening easier for owners and their teams, and more enjoyable for consumers looking to support local businesses. CLICK HERE to watch a trailer for the series, and check out all the episodes of Werrrk! From Mailchimp which you can watch online for free, and see how the WerrkForce helped 3 small business owners embrace change and grow.

MISTI CAIN:

Process Specialist 

Founder of whyzze.com and Business Process Specialist Host for Werrrk!

 

MISTI’S ADVICE FOR BUSINESS OWNERS 

Prioritizing your customer relationships and creating a communication strategy can help ease reopening challenges. Here are three ways to do this well:

  • According to the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. If possible, reach out to your top customers first to let them know your reopening plans and secure the first spots on your scheduling calendar.
  • Reward customers by creating special offers for those who supported you during your closure resumed their patronage as soon as you opened, or became new customers once you reopened. 
  • Craft a series of communications and updates to send to your entire customer database. This could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on your business model. Keep your customers in the loop on opening dates and times, any new guidelines, and changes – e.g. changes to staffing, delivery times, services, or product availability – as soon as they occur.

MISTI’S ADVICE FOR CONSUMERS 

Practicing empathy and continuing your loyalty are two great ways to support your local businesses. Here are three tips on how to do both:

  • Be patient and understanding of delays, inconveniences, and requests from small business owners as they resume their operations.
  • Purchase gift cards for future use or as gifts from businesses still waiting to open. Or, if possible, refer new customers to businesses as they open.
  • Leave positive reviews for businesses and don’t hesitate to speak up or report any spamming or internet trolling that could unjustly damage a business’s digital reputation.

MAT SANDERS: 

Place Specialist 

Designer and Digital Brand Expert and Interior Design Specialist for Werrrk!

 

MAT’S ADVICE FOR BUSINESS OWNERS

  • Make Them Smile: You use your brand’s voice in your marketing, so why not use it in your COVID safety signage?  Making people smile is just the medicine your customers need right now. Whether you’re a fitness brand displaying a mask reminder that says “Just Wear It,” or a coffee shop with signage reading “Funny You Should Mask,” don’t underestimate the major value-add of your brand’s inherent charm.
  • Design Your Digital Space: How can your brand’s brick and mortar experience translate digitally in a lo-fi way? Identify the essence of your customer’s journey and think about how you can tell that story on social media. If you are a boutique retail company that is all about discovery, host live unboxing videos that walk customers through new products and make them feel like they have just stumbled upon something fresh. If you work in a service-based industry, post quick, easy-to-watch how-to videos to remind customers of your talents (and availability!).  
  • Hello, Are You There?: Customers are less spontaneous and doing more planning before setting out to go anywhere. Make it ridiculously easy and convenient for your customer to know how and when they can shop with you. Push your updated hours and policies to the top of your website’s homepage and contact page, make sure Google lists your updated hours of operation, and regularly update your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram with a friendly status report of when you hope to be back in action.

MAT’S ADVICE FOR CONSUMERS

  • Shop Thoughtfully: Small businesses need a boost and Black-owned businesses deserve to be amplified! Get behind your neighborhood entrepreneurs and show them your love by giving them your business.
  • Share Your Experience: How much do you love that smoothie from your local health food shop? Take a cute pic and tag them! Even if you’re not an “influencer,” your reach is still very valuable to any small business. Do your part by spreading the love!

THEODORE LEAF:

Personality Specialist

Founder of Theodore Leaf – and Lifestyle expert, chef, and Business Relationships Specialist on Werrrk! 

 

THEODORE’S ADVICE FOR BUSINESS OWNERS

As you and your teams come back together, communicating a clear positive vision is key. With work and life more intertwined than ever it is essential to make sure you are keeping the communication doors open and flexible.

 

Ways to make this happen:

  • Host a listening session to gather information on how your team sees opportunities and challenges as you move forward.
  • Identify ways to leverage the current environment to positively impact your business. Explore the unique challenges facing your customer’s everyday lives and create innovative solutions that address them head on. Show them that your business is here to help and more grateful for the opportunity than ever.
  • Be honest with your customers about the realities facing your business and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and reach out for help. You will be surprised at how many customers can come out of the woodwork to lift you up and make connections to fill in blind spots.
  • Look for ways to say thank you to both customers and team members. Even a simple handwritten note can go far in strengthening bonds and lifting spirits.

THEODORE’S ADVICE FOR CONSUMERS

As you re-engage in your routine take time to show your appreciation and open doors of communication you might have overlooked before. Think of ways to surprise and delight anyone from your hairstylist to the bank teller. 

 

  • Check-in with the checkout staff and see how they are doing, this makes people feel seen. Simple kindness like this can really make someone’s day.
  • Show up with flowers! Your service providers are happy to see you but show them how happy you are to see them with an extra pop.
  • On your way to an appointment check-in and offer a coffee run for the office. It’s all about showing you value people and the hard work they do to make your life run smoothly.

  1. I love this, I work for a non profit that supports new and growing small business owners. Telling consumers how they can help is so important.

    Thank you all for what you do!!!
    Buffie from Cali