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So, you wanna re-open? Business Do’s and Don’ts During a Pandemic

Whether you’re in a state that is actively re-opening or you’re operating a business in a state that’s still at home, there are tips that will help you prepare for the day you can see your customers again, face-to-face.

Chris Guizlo of Seattle-based public relations firm The Fearey Group joined us here at the Better Business Bureau NW+P (via webinar) to share tips on re-opening and using quarantine time to work on your business. Guizlo said that the coronavirus pandemic offers businesses a rare chance to take a step back and look at what’s working with their business and what’s not. Here’s how he suggests companies – small to large – leverage any down time to plan for the future.

Guizlo offers these tips to tweak your business for a successful long game.

  • Evaluate your processes and tools to ensure you have everything to keep your team safe and working now and into re-opening.
  •  Can you innovate – big or small?
  •  Talk to your professional network and legal/financial advisors to ensure you’ve accessed all local and national support systems.
  •  Ask your employees what they need to help them do their jobs.
  • Check with your healthcare providers to see what resources they’ve made available to help during this time and SHARE it with your team.
  • Check in with your vendor partners and clients/customers – what do they need? (Not what you need!)

As you prepare to re-open, Guizlo said there are some definite Dos and Don’ts businesses should adhere to. Do share what you are doing to address COVID-19 and to safeguard your employees and customers. Do be true to your brand/personality. Do continue to respond to customers’ inquiries and questions. Do inform customers of new offerings or changes to your schedule or menu. Do show empathy and care for your community. Do join community conversations. Do match your tone to the situation. Do remember that it’s ok to be positive, but also be realistic. Do check in and engage with your customers; ask how they are feeling and how can you support them.

Guizlo also recommends updating your Google My Business profile to ensure that it reflects accurate information on your hours of operation and whether your storefront is open to the public or only for curbside, takeout or delivery options. Facebook also requires attention. Make sure you are updating your business page to include new hours and offerings on the “about” section. Don’t forget to post consistently about product and service offerings, community outreach efforts, promotions, staff news. Consider using Facebook Ads to boost posts about re-opening or other big news. The same methodology applies to Instagram business accounts: post consistently, consider using ads to spread the word, and consider using “stories” to help tell your story.

Whatever social media channel you chose to use, don’t forget to let the spirit and personality of your company shine through. That’s why your customers fell in love with you in the first place!

As for the pandemic “don’t list” for businesses, it’s shorter. Don’t be overly self-promotional (check in with customers before you try selling something). Don’t go completely silent (unless there’s a good reason). Don’t share news or information from unvetted or unverified sources. Don’t be tone deaf and pretend like nothing is happening.

Using a mixture of good old-fashioned customer service combined with modern tools to reach the masses, businesses can stay nimble, even in a pandemic. For more tips on re-opening, head to trust-bbb.org/coronavirus.  

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Written by Hannah Stiff

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