Open Communication May Lead to Keeping Doors Open Longer

by Jeremy Johnson | Mar 24, 2020 3:29:34 PM

Many business owners are scrambling during the unprecedented
COVID-19 outbreak. Some businesses have temporarily closed their doors while many
others are doing everything they can to keep them open. BBB Northwest + Pacific
wants to offer support in these uncertain times by giving owners, managers and
employees ideas of how to keep businesses afloat.

Be honest with your employees and ask for their ideas.

Things are already uncertain enough. Employees are concerned
about their livelihoods and health. More than ever, it's important to be open
with communication. Trust plays a critical role in showing customers and
employees they can count on you during this time. BBB NW+P recommends being as
transparent as possible; put yourself in your employees’ shoes and think about what
you would want to know.

Entrepreneur and Dallas Maverik owner Mark Cuban recently
spoke with small businesses urging bosses and managers of small companies to
come together with their employees to work through this together. "This is
where you need to be a leader and communicator," he says. "Get
everyone together and brainstorm ideas. Maybe there is one that comes up that
allows you to change the game."

Make your employees part of the solution. Ask them to thing
about their daily tasks and knowledge of your organization and offer
suggestions that could help both now and in the future.

Build scenarios.

No one knows exactly how long it will take to get the marketplace
back to where it was, but you can build scenarios specific to your business. A
recent article by Forbes suggests talking to key internal stakeholders to find
out their visions for the future. This is the time to innovate and think of how
to adapt present offerings to better suit the current situation. Talk to
employees and consider how you could cut costs or modify your business plan to
change to the way you currently run day to day operations. While this time is
stressful, pivoting may be the answer to keeping you in business.

If your industry is hit particularly hard by the impact of
coronavirus, collaboration instead of cut-throat competition may be an approach
to consider. Perhaps there’s broader benefit coming together with competitors to
brainstorm ways everyone can get creative during this unprecedented time. 

BBB Northwest + Pacific has been facilitating online networking
meetings and is seeing success with businesses trading ideas and working
together. Cuban also suggests before thinking about closing shop, make sure you
have looked at every loan and subsidy available. There are statewide
initiatives, federal small business assistance, grants, assistance from bank
and credit card companies.

Tell customers how they can spend money with you now or
in the future.

You may be able to adapt your business model and still bring
in revenue.  The key is communicating whatever
decisions you make. Letting customers know what’s happening so they know the
best way to support your company.  Start
with your biggest customers first and reach out to them directly. You can also
leverage social media and email newsletters to communicate.

BBB suggests communicating as many ways as possible; many
businesses right now are turning to social media with videos directly speaking
to their customers. At this time, owners must have a robust communication plan
and execute it daily. A clear dialog will be the best way to keep people
supporting your business or if you have closed your doors, knowing you will be
back.

Cuban says if shifting your business to online sales isn't
possible, begin publicizing specials and promotions for when things stabilize
later. Focus on your future customers now. This is an opportunity for you to
get the word out that you will have a post-corona special price, or you will be
open for business whenever your customers need you.

BBB understands the seriousness of this situation and wants
to provide as many resources and tips as possible. Please take the time and
visit bbb-businesses.org/covid-19  for tips and resources to help make the best decisions
for your organization and its success.

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