In this 6-minute read:
- Why you may want to ramp up operations more slowly, despite spikes in demand
- Unforeseen consequences of increasing inventory, sales, and hiring too early
As businesses reopen and try to “get back to normal” during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a lot of important considerations that may not be obvious. There are several key reasons why you may not want to jump back into operations with both feet and get your sales engines running at full throttle.
Some businesses have seen enormous gains during these crazy times, like grocery stores and sporting goods retailers. Restaurant sales dropped off a cliff during the global lockdown, but in some cases they have rebounded with a vengeance. (See our report on businesses around national parks for more details.)
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So while there may be huge spikes in customer demand and you may be tempted to invest in aggressive expansion or sales models to try to recover lost revenue, it might be wiser to take the following factors into consideration and plan for a more measured recovery/reopening/ramping-up strategy for your business.
The initial surge in demand may not last
Some businesses (like snow cone stands, ice cream shops, restaurants, bars, etc.) may be experiencing a lot of pent-up demand from being closed or severely restricted during the lockdown, but that demand may not last.
Some business owners may reopen and think that the demand they see initially is indicative a new normal, but that just might not be the case. Based on virus infection levels and other factors, the surge in demand may fade as quickly as it grew.
Making plans for ramping up sales based on these initial spikes is probably unwise in this crazy marketspace. It’s smarter to take what you see initially with a grain of salt and plan to reopen slower, even if demand seems high initially.
Inventory and supply chains may still be out of whack
If your business sells goods, food, or anything that requires a functional national or global supply chain, you might want to ease off on ordering a bazillion doohickeys or a metric ton of Turkish persimmons.
The pandemic has had dramatic and varied impacts on all aspects of business and supply chains, and you want to to make sure you have the infrastructure in place to support you as you scale back up. You don’t want to run out of ingredients, components, or inventory if your supply chain from China or wherever is still on the fritz.
Slower growth makes it easier to meet unforeseen regulations or shutdowns
Based on political, socioeconomic, and health considerations, there is the possibility of further restrictions, shutdowns, or procedures being required as we move forward toward recovery from the pandemic.
Small businesses have had to scramble to adapt to local ordinances and the dramatic drop in foot traffic, and there’s still the chance that additional changes may be needed. If your business commits aggressively to one type of business model or sales avenue, you might be left holding the bag if things change yet again.
Focusing your product/service offerings on your top sellers can prevent more revenue loss
In terms of your service or product offerings, it might make sense to come back slowly with only your most popular items or services, then add others back in as there’s demand for them. This will cut down on costs and prevent wasted resources and time.
Maybe you had more than one location before the pandemic, and you ended up closing most or all of them. It might make sense to reopen locations slowly and in sequence of locations that were in the highest demand before the pandemic to the lowest—again, to not get too far over your skis.
Take time to get new PPE supplies and procedures in place, and let customers adjust
You have likely had to make significant modifications to your sales process, customer interactions, and physical space to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. These adjustments necessitate patience as you create modifications to your training materials and processes, your hiring, sanitization of your facility, your delivery of products or services, and pretty much all aspects of your business.
Make sure you are allowing time and space for your customers (and yourself) to adjust to these changes to your business model and to build up PPE inventory and supplies.
You may also like: 6 ways to improve employee PPE compliance
Seasonal/outdoor accommodations may not be possible over the winter months
Restaurants and other businesses have been innovative in adapting their services, seating, and sales avenues to a more open, socially distanced, and outdoor sales model due to the pandemic.
However, if these accommodations rely on a lot of outdoor space or foot traffic, it may be good to be cautious if a you expect demand/foot traffic to change drastically in the winter. You wouldn’t want to overinvest in safety measures or products/service delivery models that will need to change as things move indoors.
Hiring too aggressively too soon may backfire
If you judge your future sales based on an initial surge in demand, you may be tempted to hire tons of help to get you up to speed. However, as noted above, these initial spikes in sales may not be indicative of what you can expect as the situation normalizes.
Make sure you don’t hire to far ahead of demand, especially if it’s fluctuating dramatically.
A slow ramp-up might give you a competitive edge in the long run
Giving yourself time to institute visible safety measures, etc., could make customers more confident in patronizing your business as opposed to another business who might just dive head first back into “normal” operation.
Customers who are venturing out into retail/restaurant/shopping spaces may be more likely to return again and again if you make it clear that their safety is more important to you than just their wallet. As you take the time to get procedures and processes in place, even if they may slow down the sales process a bit, you will win those customers’ loyalty and build repeat business as time moves on.
Keeping limited hours of operation may make more sense
Depending on your unique situation and business model, it may not make sense to have as extensive hours of operation as you had before the pandemic, especially if the demand isn’t there.
Many businesses have decided to cut back on their typical “open” hours daily to allow for increased sanitization requirements, customer accommodations, more lengthy checkout processes, and other factors.
Since these modifications necessarily cut into overall profits, maintaining a more conservative approach to your hours of operation and adjusting gradually as needed may be the best way to go.
You may just have to plan for a constrained ability to service clients, because of social distancing measures. Maybe you can only have a limited number of people in your business, and because of that, you have to plan for smaller demand until social distancing measures are lifted.
Improve your potential for recovery and growth by improving your online visibility
As you have adjusted your business’s physical space to the pandemic, you also need to make sure your online presence is solid so that people can actually find you and start spending money with you.
Some ways to help you show up in local searches are getting regular online reviews to your Google, Yelp, and Facebook listings and also creating new online directory profiles across other web directories.
Womply Reputation Management can help you improve your online presence. Our software will help you manage all your online reviews from one place. You can also respond to your customer reviews from your Womply dashboard.
Womply also offers business intelligence, customer relationship management, email marketing, payments, and a dynamic customer directory that updates automatically with each transaction.