Like the eye of a hurricane, businesses raked by the leading edge of the COVID-19 pandemic are now taking a cautious look outside. Though the winds have subsided, and it’s tempting to think that the worst is over, the eye simply gives us a chance to prepare for what’s left to come.
If you have withstood the worst of the impacts of the pandemic so far, you likely have accepted that the storm was coming, and had battened down your hatches (or at least applied for PPP funding to keep vestiges of your business afloat). Now, though, as we can start to imagine a future in which a return to a “new normal” is evident, it’s critical to have your plan in place when the rebound hits.
For those who haven’t been willing to consider the details needed in your post-pandemic recovery plan – or simply weren’t willing to “go there” – now is the time to get ready. Though the public will be released from their quarantine, and generally speaking, ready to dine, the world into which they will venture will indeed be changed. Will their appetite for dining with you also be transformed?
In my view, planning for the rebound – the re-grand-opening into this brave new world – will require a three-step planning process:
Let’s explore further.
1. ACCURATE ASSESSMENT OF NOW
Where have your customers gone? Are they still in need of your unique brand of hospitality? Are you maintaining your competitive edge? Are you able to keep your employees active and engaged in the business? Many businesses are grappling with these and other questions, as they fight for survival in an apocalyptic present, and uncertain future. Here are four tips to consider when assessing the current state of affairs in your enterprise:
If you’ve withstood the worst of the pandemic so far, you may find that the tweaks you’ve made temporarily should be considered for permanence. Now, more than ever, understanding the customer’s needs and wants – and how you are positioned to be a guiding force in their upturned lives – can be a make or break proposition. Here are some ways to be a part of this change:
On an April 8 webinar sponsored by Valassis and featuring data from Technomic, they suggested:
If you can maintain communication with your customers through advertising, social channels and email, do it. You must be mindful of your tone and message, but the research of the past 93 years is clear – if you can maintain or increase your advertising during a downturn, especially when your competitors don’t, you will be rewarded with higher sales and market share during the recovery.
Planning for the recovery sooner, rather than later, is critical. Those who wait for the recovery to begin will be late to the party and will likely lose market share to more aggressive competitors.
With what you’ve gleaned from studying your competitors and company in Step No. 1, above, it’s time to learn more about your customers as they exist today, to get an idea of what and who they may be in the future. The shifts in public policy, social interactions, virtual work spaces and personal hygiene will likely be tectonic in scope. As a result, you need to understand how the shifts will affect your business and which ones you may be able to exploit.
Ways to learn about your customers now, so you can plan for the Next.
Regardless of your current posture on the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a certainty that the danger will eventually come to an end. Now is the time to be sharpening your pencils and honing your strategies so you can be ready for the next steps.
For a vision of how your business might look after the rebound, stay tuned for our next blog.