Many SME’s have experienced an upturn in business due to the Coronavirus outbreak, with consumers turning to the “buy local” approach. We look at ways of maintaining business post COVID-19 and investing in your business now to come out the other side ready to grow.
Whilst it is undoubtedly true that for most businesses the outbreak of COVID-19 or coronavirus has been extremely damaging, for some SME’s the effects have been positive. Who cannot think of the small butchers, bakers and garden centres, usually competing with larger competition, who are now busier than ever. I hear, in meetings, the cries of “long may it continue” and “finally the value of the SME is coming through.” Whilst of course, it is great news, SME’s should take this time to review their business model. After all, an upturn of sales is great, but maintaining business post COVID-19 is the aim. As its effects, we know, will not be felt forever.
A business qualifier is an offering that your consumer expects to receive before doing business with a certain company. This can be, for example as simple as the ability to take a card payment, or a set accreditation, or service offering.
A differentiator is one of the elements of your business that sets you apart from your competition. A differentiator for a company such as Google is their user base, algorithm and speed of search.
Maintaining Business By Knowing Your Qualifiers and Differentiaors
Right now, customers’ normal buying decisions may well be somewhat skewed. So it is important to understand their usual buying profile and what they see as a qualifier and a differentiator. Think about your business offering and what customers must have, and what sets you apart. An easy one to relate to is a butchers, compare what customers must have, to what sets them apart. Below are some examples of each based on an average customer for this example.
Example Business Qualifiers
Reviewing that example of the butcher, examples of a qualifier would be:
- Flexible payment options, the ability to pay with cash or card.
- Good quality cuts.
- Array of choice.
- Within a certain distance from home.
- Opening hours that suit.
Example Business Differentiators
Things that may differentiate a butcher from most of its competition, namely supermarkets are:
- The ability to get to know your butcher, so gaining feedback and cooking suggestions.
- Provenance of the food, knowing where it has come from.
- The extreme quality of the meat compared to others.
- The much wider choice available, including different meat types.
- Ordering exactly how much you want, so less waste.
This is of course a non-exhaustive list, but outlines the point.
Qualifiers As A Given
Quite simply, make sure you offer things that make people even consider buying from you. Right now, customers may well be okay with paying cash to small businesses as the wait for entry to the premises isn’t so long. Or that you are offering delivery, but a caveat is they must pay cash. Right now, it is an inconvenience, but the situation outweighs that. In future, it will hamper the buying decision, making the business unviable in the future.In 2010, six out of 10 transactions were in cash, but that has long been overtaken by debit cards. Are certain business practices making it harder for customers to do business with you? If so, change them.
Maintaining Business Post COVID-19 – Leveraging Differentiators
It is so important to get your message across, to make customers remember just why it is that they bought from you to begin with. Or what extra value they got from buying from your business. Remember to get that message through whilst sales are up to reinforce the opportunity for potential sales in the future.
Keep In Touch With Customers
A local butcher sending out a fortnightly email may sound to those that do not do it, odd. My response is short and sweet. Why wouldn’t you? Adhering to GDPR regulation (and this post isn’t about that) think about getting customer emails and keeping in touch. Start such marketing before the lockdown ends, and keep it going into the future. If you can make your customers purchasing habitual now, it will continue too. Email marketing is just one way to reinforce this habitual purchasing.