My apologies before I even start my message this month, we have all had it with Covid-19 articles and before you line the birdcage with this one, please hear me out. A recent poll taken by the National Small Business Association showed over 3/4s of the entrepreneurs surveyed were very concerned about the long term impact of the pandemic on their business. Not a surprising statistic considering what is happening around us, but let’s dig a bit deeper.
The coronavirus has created a variance in how everyone performs day to day, in a word, change has been forced upon the business community and that change is not going anywhere anytime soon. Change in business can be exciting, as it means you have thought out a different way to conduct business or perhaps added a different product or service to make your business more valuable to your customers. Unfortunately, during this pandemic, businesses have been forced to change just to keep their doors open. Moving forward, what businesses have learned through this challenging time will contribute to their success for years to come.
Restaurants were forced to provide curbside service to accommodate the closing of indoor dining. People will always want talented chefs preparing their meals, but many have found that bringing that meal home has its place. This is not to say that eating out in a restaurant setting will disappear but now folks are used to take out being more than a bucket of chicken or a pizza. The restaurant dynamic has changed, and the smart ones have it covered and doing it well.
Retail has also been forced to adapt, with curbside service, more detailed marketing via social media and a sharper sense of what the customer wants. Of course, the 900 pound gorilla in the room staring local retailers in the face are the online behemoths that have been prospering very well through the pandemic. One huge reason why, has nothing to do with price or convenience, it’s certainty. Knowing they can get exactly what they want is what drives many to shop online.
If you do not have a presence on the web, at the very least a social media page, do it now! The days of, if you open your door they will come, are long gone. Shoppers want certainty first and foremost after price and convenience. Your customers are shopping online right now, open your virtual door and let them in to see the value in what you provide.
Currently there are plans being made by the Lake County Economic Development Corporation to provide technical assistance to businesses which want to improve/enhance their web presence. That pertains also to businesses which have no current web presence. For those wishing to explore their possibility of adding on-line sales, this too will be covered. The plan for LC EDC is to involve both Chambers of Commerce and all business associations in this effort.
The obvious challenge right now is for businesses to keep their doors open while the world confronts the crisis that is Covid-19 but moving forward, recognizing that your customers’ needs are changing is critical to future success. Those that adapt to those changes will benefit greatly.