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Open Communication May Lead to Keeping Doors Open Longer

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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Written by Jeremy Johnson

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