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The Business Resilience Task Force recently surveyed the community to find out how they feel about a variety of topics related to public health and what influences the decisions they make about the places they visit and patron. These valuable insights into customer attitudes and preferences during Phase 3 of Virginia’s reopening can help small businesses understand best practices for responding to customer concerns moving forward.

Key takeaways:

▪ Customers want businesses to make public health a priority. They want businesses to continue taking precautions that keep both employees and customers safe, and they want these precautious to be posted or shared, physically or virtually (Q1, Q11, Q12).

▪ There was a 21.9% increase in the number of survey respondents who said “employees wearing facemasks” impacted their level of comfort patronizing a business (Q1).

▪ Customers wish to touch as few common surfaces as possible (Q5, Q8, Q10).

▪ The number of people inside could impact customers’ desire to enter or stay (Q1, Q7).

▪ Many respondents indicated they have already started patronizing retail businesses and restaurants that offer outdoor dining; however, people show much more uncertainty when it comes to dining indoors and engaging in recreational activities (Q2).

▪ Buffet-style restaurants and other self-service options will make people uncomfortable for a long time, as evidenced by both the previous and current survey results (Q2).

▪ The majority of respondents do not feel comfortable attending events or gatherings – indoors or outdoors – despite adherence to social distancing guidelines (Q3).

▪ Moving forward, roughly 60% of respondents indicated interest in business and social networking events that are held either virtually or in small outdoor gatherings (Q4).

▪ Over 76% of respondents said locally owned businesses capture their attention with products, services, and specials using Facebook or word of mouth. 55% indicated that google search results are influential (Q6).

▪ Many intend to frequently or occasionally shop online with locally owned retailers and restaurants that have e-commerce options available for pick-up or delivery (Q9).

How could businesses respond?

▪ Follow CDC/VDH guidelines; regularly check for new information and adapt.

▪ Frequently disinfect commonly touched surfaces, such as handles and card machines. Do this in front of customers.

▪ Post signs explaining precautions outside and inside the establishment as well as on social media pages. Ensure all employees and customers are following what is posted.

▪ Continue using e-commerce systems; implement e-commerce if not already in place.

▪ Use Facebook and Instagram to enhance your marketing – highlighting actual products, menu, items and detailed descriptions that encourage people to make a purchase. Use google adwords as part of your marketing strategy so your website can get “found” more easily.

▪ Explore “touchless” and low-contact systems for your business, such as: disposable paper or QR Code menus, posted chalk board menus, touchless payment, and other strategies.

▪ Limit the number of patrons inside establishments. If it is feasible with the type of business or establishment, consider taking reservations (using free online tools) or making appointments.

▪ Install automatic hand sanitizer dispensers.

▪ Continue offering curbside pick-up and delivery options.

▪ Continue offering or try implementing “senior hours” for older customers.

▪ Use social media and e-newsletter lists to engage customers and ask for feedback on plans. Ask customers what you can do to retain their business through this time.

▪ Share positive Google/Facebook/Yelp reviews that recognize your efforts to keep your staff and customers safe on social media & let your customers speak for you!

VIEW ENTIRE SURVEY RESULTS

Keeping up with social media campaigns can be overwhelming, but Constant Contact – one of the major social media guru’s has broken it down into some manageable pieces.  Here are three blogs with simple ways to keep your facebook page fresh, interesting and engaging:

How long has your company had the same cover photo?  How well does that photo represent your brand? Check out these ideas to freshen it up.

Not getting many likes, shares or comments?  Try these tips for getting more engagement.

And finally, don’t be caught looking like a doofus, avoid these faux pas and look smart instead.

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September is national preparedness month, so we pulled some helpful links together to help you get your home and business in order in case the unexpected happens.

For Your Home

FEMA has several great articles on how to prepare your home and family for natural disasters.  Disaster Kit Supplies: Find out how what you really need in order to wait out a natural disaster – and make sure that supplies are kept fresh and replenished.  Teach children about 911, their address and phone number.  Make a plan and know where to meet your loved ones if you get separated.

 

For Your Businessopen sign

Take initiative and make a plan; train employees on safety protocols, first aid and CPR.  Then practice the plan.  This helps to work out any kinks and ensures everyone in your office, store or job-site knows where to go and what they need to do to stay safe.  Hold regular safety meetings – especially if your business has an inherent risk to your employees or clients (ie construction or healthcare).  Not only is it a good idea to have a plan, OSHA requires it for many industries – find out if your business needs to have an Emergency Action Plan with this interactive quiz. 

There are also tools to help keep your business running during outages and shortages.  A business continuity plan outlines protocols to ensure safety, communication, and chain of command during disasters.  FEMA offers a series of videos that walk you through the steps in creating a business continuity plan.  Just click on the Business Continuity Video Training tab in the middle of this page.

Being prepared can save your business in the wake of a natural disaster.  Have more questions or concerns?
Let us know how we can help.