The last two years have been anything but certain for Australian businesses. Since the beginning of the pandemic, few have been able to escape the devastating impacts of lengthy lockdowns, ever-changing restrictions, supply chain disruptions and staff shortages. The summer seemed to hold promise for many businesses, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors who were finally allowed to open their doors, many returning to full capacity and welcoming customers back through their doors. But, as testing and isolation requirements change - staff rosters are being left bare and it’s beginning to feel like we are still in lockdown.
As a business owner, you are most likely making decisions necessary to the survival of your business every hour and may be left wondering what else you can do. We have rounded up a few small, yet mighty tips that may help you stay afloat while we all ride out this wave.
1. The power of social media
Yes, you may have heard it before, but your social media channels are one of your most valuable assets. Particularly at a time when communicating with your customers is vital. Think about it, the customers who follow you on social media already love your brand/business. They have taken the time to follow you and support you before the pandemic and want to see you again once it’s over. Some ideas below.
Spread the word:
If you are forced to close your doors for a few days, let your followers know. Pop up an Instagram Post, Instagram Story and Facebook post so that you are reaching as many eyes as possible. Be real about why you are closing and ask your followers to share the news and of course let them know when you are opening again so they can support you.
Network with local business pages:
Since the pandemic began many social accounts dedicated to supporting small businesses have been created and have amassed large followings. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these pages and ask to be featured. The majority of these audiences will be from your local area and it’s a great way to garner extra support during uncertain times. Check out this page for some ideas.
Run a survey:
If you are having to make tricky decisions on removing certain services or products ask your customers what they value the most in your business. It will give you great insight into your customer base and help inform your decisions moving forward. Tip: Use the poll feature on Instagram Stories to easily create a survey.
Utilise auto-response tools:
Did you know that you can tell Facebook to respond in certain ways for you? If you are time-poor and are answering the same questions over and over. Consider setting up an auto-responder on social media. You can use custom messaging and add links to different pages on your website. You will find that many customers will find the information they are looking for without any manual work on your end.
Social media channels are a great place to be open and honest about the challenges your business is facing. Customers who aren’t in the same situation may not understand how or why you are making certain changes which may lead to frustration and avoidable negative feedback. Jumping on social media to honestly explain your situation via a post or video if you are comfortable can help breach those boundaries and foster a stronger relationship with your customers.
2. Google My Business
Google business listings are an invaluable tool for any small business. Many customers will Google a business before engaging or purchasing from them and keeping your listing updated can quickly tell a customer who you are, what you do, direct them to your website and most importantly let them know when you are open. Updating your opening hours is quick and easy. You can even add “temporarily closed” to help inform your customers and avoid any disgruntled visitors.
3. Optimise team workflows
If you haven’t already invested in a Team Management system, it’s worth considering it to help streamline your rosters, team engagement and stay on top of last-minute changes. Square Team Management allows you to set rosters quickly, sharing with your team at the click of a button. You can see your entire team’s hours at a glance and onboard new staff seamlessly. The Square Team App also allows your team to adjust shifts remotely, so if someone can’t make a shift last minute due to isolation requirements or illness you can find out the night before rather than the morning of. With Team Plus you can give permissions to your staff to be able to trade shifts themselves to make sure you’ve always got the right number of people working. Team Plus also lets you set custom access levels for various team members, allowing you to hand over the reins if you need to step away for a few days.
4. Consider using QR Codes for ordering
To be clear we don’t mean check-in QR codes, we mean the ones that sit on tables or out the front of your cafe, allowing your customers to order with no contact, seamlessly via their phones. Did you know that Square integrates directly with Mr Yum? Mr Yum is a web-based mobile ordering and payment platform used by leading hospitality and entertainment venues. By integrating Mr Yum into your Square POS system, you can reduce the amount of time dedicated to staff taking orders, easily sync menu items, payment details and price points for a seamless table-to-sale experience. Customers simply scan a QR code to order and pay for food and drinks or start a tab for themselves or a group. Getting started with Mr Yum is simple and there are no upfront costs or subscription fees. You can also use Square’s self-serve ordering via QR code for free with Square Online.
5. Empower and support your employees
It may seem like an obvious point to make, but your employees are in the same boat as you and it can be easy to get caught up in the stress of day-to-day operations and forget about the people behind your business. Some may be struggling to stay afloat. Others may have lost significant amounts of income over the past few years, or have family members who are ill. Yet, they are still showing up for you and dedicating their time to helping your business succeed. Make sure to check in with them regularly and reinforce that you are there to support them as much as they are for you.