#YorkshireTogether: How to adapt your business during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
Written on 16 March 2020.
We’ve compiled ideas and suggestions to help your business adapt at this time.
We’d love to hear from you if you’re doing something that you’d like to share to help other businesses. Join in the conversation on social media using #YorkshireTogether or email us at [email protected].
Advice for all
- Stay up to date with latest official advice from Visit Britain (view VBs latest newsletter) and the Government and specifically for business here.
- Make use of the resources and information on the Governments Business Support website.
- Creating vouchers – many businesses already sell gift vouchers but, for those who don’t, consider creating some for customers to buy now. They’re ideal for presents for upcoming events, such as Mother’s Day and Easter, and can range from an overnight stay to a cup of coffee and cake. If you have a website, add them to your online store; if you don’t, can you set up a system via email or phone for people to place their orders? Promote these through social media channels, and encourage customers to buy ahead for birthdays and special occasions.
- Delivery options – if customers can’t come to you, can you deliver to customers? Some restaurants and cafes are offering a delivery service on meals to homes and even local B&Bs. Worried they won’t stay warm? Frozen meals are also a great idea, especially for those who are unable to leave the house. If you’re a retailer, can you increase your online offering, or add a little extra such as free gift wrapping.
- Pre-orders – if you’re uncertain how high demand will be for events such as Easter, why not set up a pre-order system now. You’ll know stock levels required to fulfil the minimum demand, and customers will want the opportunity to plan ahead and ensure they can still get the treats they want to buy.
- Contactless payments – if you’re still open to the public, encourage people to use card payments to minimise cash handling.
- Promote neighbouring businesses – support each other and be kind. Make your street a destination, so people don’t have to travel far to find the supplies they need. Are there other ways you can support one another? Can your delivery driver offer drop off other businesses products too to limit how many staff are travelling? Can you combine products together, and offer a more convenient package for the customer?
- Offer essential items - if supermarkets are running low on popular items, can you buy something similar from local suppliers to offer customers?
- Encourage customers to return – offer a discount for returning customers. Send an email after a stay, or include a leaflet in a takeaway delivery bag offering 10% off their next purchase.
- Key dates in the calendar – with Mother’s Day and Easter coming up, and birthdays and celebrations still to buy for, engage with events on social media to make the most of them. Encourage customers to use this as a time to get organised and buy presents.
- Keep your staff up to date – make sure your staff know what possibilities are ahead. It’s a difficult time for many people but letting people know all possible outcomes can people plan ahead. Scenario mapping is a useful tool to make sure you’re prepared as possible for all eventualities.
- Update your customers - Let your customers know what’s happening too. If you decide to close make sure you put this on social media, along with a note on your door, so customers aren’t making unnecessary journeys. If you’re a Welcome to Yorkshire member, tell us about any changes to your opening hours and we’ll add this to Yorkshire.com.
- Check in - if you run a B&B or self-catering accommodation could you install a lock box so guests can check in themselves and limit interaction? This is handy anytime for guests who need to arrive out of hours.
- Promoting local activities – make sure you’re letting guests know about local walks, activities in the countryside and businesses where there’s no need to travel far. Check first that businesses are still open to the public.
- Communal areas – whilst a buffet breakfast is always popular, for now consider changing to table service only. Can you move seating areas around so that there’s more space in between chairs? Use signage as reminders for people to wash their hands regularly, and increase the number of times checks are made to ensure spaces remain as clean as they can.
- Offer upgrades – if you’re not at capacity, ensure those who are visiting have an experience to remember. Can you give a room upgrade or offer local produce in the room?
Food and drink, and bars and restaurants
- Offer takeaway – can customers collect their orders from you? Can you move your counter closer to the entrance to limit the need for people to come inside? Do you even have a window that you could operate through?
- Change your offering – if you’re a producer can you add something new to your offering that’s more essential to daily life, or reduce your offering to key items to limit any wastage. Can you work with another local business to offer something new? Sandwiches from a pub, and cake from a bakery, would make a perfect picnic for a family to take on a walk in the countryside.
- Outdoor space - do you have an outdoor seating area you can utilise so people don’t have to sit indoors? Can you expand an existing one? As the weather gets warmer, could you invite local bands to play or set up an outdoor cinema, a perfect activity to keep the kids entertained whilst off school.
- Prioritise some time for yourself – this might be difficult with growing concerns and worries, but it’s so important to take time out where you can and focus on your wellbeing. Whether it’s a picnic in the stunning Yorkshire countryside, exercising at home or playing a board game with the kids, try and factor time in each day to do something for yourself.
- Support other local businesses – outside of work, try and support other local businesses where you can by buying from them.
- Assess your costs – if you’re unable to keep your business open, use the time to assess your finances. Where can costs be saved? Can you access better deals by changing your energy provider or bank?
- Think ahead – if you decide to close your doors for a while, use the time to plan ahead. Can you spend the time on those tasks you never get round to, whether it’s updating photography on your website, checking supplier costs to see where you can save, or enrolling on a course to find out more about marketing? Many business services who offer training are delivering online options at the moment.
- Cancellations and refunds – many businesses will be affected by customers wanting to cancel at this time. Whilst you will all have your own policies and procedures in place a suggestion might be to look to rearrange rather than cancel.