Five Things Small Businesses Should Consider Before They Reopen

Showing you care and building an emotional connection with customers will mean more than ever before.

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Share this article

Showing you care and building an emotional connection with customers will mean more than ever before.


Five Things Small Businesses Should Consider Before They Reopen

Showing you care and building an emotional connection with customers will mean more than ever before.

Share this article

The last few months have been turbulent for small business owners in every industry and although many have had to shut up shop overnight, there are also plenty of examples of small businesses who have found new ways to adapt their business models.

Amongst our customers, we have seen many adapt to providing takeaway services or no-contact deliveries, in order to maintain some level of income.

We have also seen countless gestures of selflessness where small business owners have offered their space, skills and resources to support charitable causes. These are challenging and unprecedented times to say the least, but the good news is that a step towards ‘business as usual’ may finally be in sight.

Earlier this month, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced a conditional plan to slowly reopen the hospitality and retail sectors as early as July 1st.

However, this was met with widespread criticism from various groups, largely motivated by the fear of a second wave of Covid-19, as well as concerns around how social distancing can be maintained in our much-loved pubs, shops and restaurants.

Just this week, UK pubs have called for the Government to halve the 2 metre social distancing rule to make business economically viable when they can finally reopen, stating that many will have to remain closed if this isn’t acknowledged.

And our own customer, Paul Hugill from The Priory Hotel, has concerns too. He said: 

“I still have a lot of questions about how I will be able to reopen my hotel and especially the restaurant and public events side of my business, whilst any kind of social distancing still takes place.

"Until a vaccination is created, the process of recovery seems much more complicated and gradual.

"Just because lockdown measures are lifted, doesn’t mean small business owners like myself can afford to take the financial or very human risk of operating under social distancing practices that may put staff at risk and are naturally going to reduce footfall and ultimately profits considerably.”

However, the fact is that small business owners need to start thinking about the future and what the ‘new normal’ may look like, so in this piece we share our top tips on how small business owners can start to prepare for a slow, safe and sustainable return to normality.

Keep an eye on public health advice

It may sound obvious, but it is important to keep abreast of the guidance from public health officials so you can ensure your business adheres to the latest restrictions.

This will also help to provide much-needed reassurance to employees, as well as build confidence and trust in old and new customers so they know you are operating in the safest way possible. A great place to start is by looking at the official Government website to see the most up to date advice and information. 

Pivot your business plan

We know many of our own small business customers have already pivoted their business models to see them through lockdown measures. However, it is worth considering which of these changes can be maintained even as business resumes as normal, as well as thinking about how you can bring in other revenue streams.

Here are some things to consider: set up an e-commerce site, take online bookings, apply for an outdoor license to help with social distancing, use more areas of the building for trade such as a basement or patio, extend trading hours or enable mobile ordering and collections.

There are many possibilities – so use this opportunity to get creative so your business can bounce back even stronger than before.

Consider customers

It is likely that international travel will be restricted for a while, which means fewer tourists. The elderly and vulnerable will also be under restrictions for at least a few months yet, so it is worth considering who your customers will be and how that will affect your business.

It may mean a change in menu, a flexible delivery service, or a tweak to your product to keep it relevant for your core customer base. 

Make the most of free marketing

It is a well-known fact that social media is a powerful resource, but this may be more so now than ever. In the weeks running up to the restrictions lifting, we recommend putting a focused effort into increasing your social media following by posting engaging content, photos and updates to build up anticipation ahead of your re-opening.

Your loyal customers will be the first ones to support you and will likely help to spread the word if you catch their attention. You could also find ways to engage with your community, trade organisations, peers and other local businesses to share tips and advice, as well as consider a 'refer a friend’ model so you can reach as many people as possible.

Prepare your finances

Many small businesses have taken out Government-backed loans such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which Liberis is now accredited for, or the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).

These are great to help bridge cashflow but it’s important to think about your future finances too, particularly as footfall and online orders increase, so you can make sure you have enough stock to meet demand.

It is worth considering flexible finance options that work with cashflow so you can find your feet without being committed to fixed payments every month.

There will be an adjustment period for every small business in the coming months, but if there’s one thing lockdown has reminded us, it’s the importance of connection.

Whether it’s in person or online, showing that you care and building an emotional connection with existing and prospecting customers will mean more than ever before and we hope the tips above go some way to helping with that. 

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Five Things Small Businesses Should Consider Before They Reopen

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