Re-opening Your Small Business After Lockdown

July 19, 2021 Anastasia Valentine

Welcome to Week Two of Wagefest Summer Camp! My name is Anastasia and I’ll be one of your camp counsellors guiding you through our six-week program to support small businesses. Today, we’re going to learn how we can rebound, re-open and re-launch after lockdown.

What a year it's been for small businesses. Wagepoint has witnessed firsthand the resilience some small businesses have shown and the creative solutions they've tapped into to continue to thrive throughout the pandemic. We’ve also heard of heartbreaking stories of job loss and stress that small business owners never dreamed they would have to experience. Throughout this journey, Wagepoint has supported our amazing clients and community. We’re committed to helping small businesses re-launch with purpose, optimism and profit. 

Make sure everyone is safe.

Our number one priority is safety. We want to make sure everyone feels safe, including your workforce, your customers and the community. Different locations may be in different opening phases, which are subject to different guidelines. Be sure to consult your local public health authority to understand the requirements of re-opening your business in your region.

With safety in mind, here are some things to consider as you re-open your small business:

  • Provide masks for employees and customers if they don’t have one.

  • Add sanitization stations throughout your facility.

  • Post direction signs to keep traffic flowing in a single direction.

  • Install plexiglass barriers to protect your staff and customers while ensuring they can still clearly see each other.

Remember, there is still much anxiety around things “returning to normal.” It’s best to err on the side of caution and check out some of the fun ways to introduce and re-introduce your small business to customers after lockdown.

Build trust and a sense of safety.

Keep everyone safe.

Your customers want to know what you're doing to keep them safe, so clear communication around safety guidelines is a must-have. Consider doing a video, photo montage or blog that shows all of the ways your company complies with local public health guidelines. This could include insight around sanitation stations, employee mask rules and physical distancing guidelines in your store or facility. 

Pro tip: Make it fun! Make sure your customers understand that there will be changes to their experience but that they'll still get the best products and services they know and love.

Showcase the new customer experience.

If you have a brick-and-mortar location, one thing you can do is give your customers a video tour of the facility. Be sure to include stops to:

  • Visit sanitation stations.
  • Review capacity limits.
  • Look at favourite products.
  • Say “Hi!” to your staff.
  • Promote any offers you may have.
  • Let your customers know how great it will be to see them again.

Build “brand love” — even in a pandemic.

Mask up!

Why not get some brand recognition with any personal protective equipment (PPE) you need to wear? Provide these to your employees and consider selling branded masks to promote your brand outside of your small business.

Pro tip: Consider having your employees post an awesome photo of themselves in branded apparel or masks, so customers can still see who the amazing human is behind the mask!

Grand re-opening offer.

Let the re-opening be an opportunity to provide an incentive for your clients to return to your business. This can be a free item or discount for the first group of people (you decide how many) that visit after re-opening. Perhaps you can even run a raffle where anyone who visits your location or purchases on the first few days post re-opening can be entered into. 

Pro tip: Don’t forget to take photos and promote all the goodness your small business provides. 

Getting the word out.

The countdown is on! Many organizations need to get the word out to their existing and new customers.

Get social.

Go where everyone is… digitally, that is.

Start posting on social media sites that your customers frequent. This can include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn and more. People love great photos including behind-the-scenes sneak-peeks, what’s-new images or videos, in-stock products, promotions and people. Share, share, share!

Leverage your mailing list.

If you have a mailing list, now is the time to announce your re-opening, along with details about safety protocols or any changes to the customer experience. Here are some tips to consider as you write:

  • Position any changes in the most positive way. 

  • Include information around opening hours and capacity limits so your customers can prepare and plan ahead.

  • Introduce any new faces and re-introduce the old faces.

  • If you have an offer or promotion to celebrate re-opening, this is a great opportunity to share it.

If you don’t have an e-mail list yet, consider building one. Keep CASL rules in mind and make sure you get consent from your customers and prospects before you start communicating with your community via email.

Not sure which e-mail tool to use to send and monitor engagement? Check out this article on the Top 11 Email Marketing Tools to Save you Time and Money.

Engage your community.

Holding an event right now is still a little dicey, but if you adhere to public health guidelines, you can still create a safe space for your existing and future clients to have a great time.

Strengths in partnerships — Connect with like-minded businesses.

Reach out to other small businesses that are geographically close to you or align with your customer base and provide them with a unique customer experience to celebrate being out of lockdown. This could include a(n):

  • At-a-distance street market.
  • Customer appreciation experience with entertainment.
  • Experiential opportunity to allow customers and prospects to try your products or see them in action, such as a fashion show, mouthwatering food samples or quick classes to teach about how to use your products. 

By partnering up with like-minded businesses, you’ll get a better reach, foster community and maybe even make the local news! Leverage the summer weather we have for connecting with your community at a distance, outdoors.

Create an exclusive event for your loyal customers.

Welcome back your best customers with an exclusive event just for them. A private shopping opportunity? Reveal of new products like a fashion line? Or a specially-curated menu in a socially-distanced and safe environment? We all need a little levity and an exclusive event with limited people may be a safe way to re-engage your best customers!

Create a welcome incentive!

Give customers a reason to come back or discover your small business for the first time with a welcome incentive. This could be a discount, an attractive multiple-product bundle price, a refer-a-friend deal, or even loyalty incentives to keep your customers coming back for more.  

Ever feel like you're running out of ideas on how to market your business? Check out this 101 Small Business Marketing Ideas list to spark creativity and attract your perfect fit customers!

Hire the best people.

It's a competitive market, so hiring the best people right now is a challenge. Entrepreneurs and small business owners typically wear many hats and now they're doing double and triple duty in their stores, restaurants, cafés, salons and other customer-facing establishments. Remember: Customers love to meet the owners behind the brand, so even if you aren’t usually front and center, it may be a great opportunity to connect with your community.

If your business is in a hiring crunch, check into these channels:

  • Previous candidates.

  • Referrals from great employees.

  • Referrals from peers in business.

  • Students looking for co-op opportunities.

  • Newcomers to the country looking for work experience.

Create an environment where new employees feel supported and provide them with the training they need to get up and running quickly. Ensure your company fosters a positive work environment that will attract the talent your small business deserves.

Pro tip: Get quotes from your employees and use the positive experience to promote open roles on social, job boards and even within your own business.

Choose the best payroll solution for small businesses.

Don’t forget to select the best payroll solution for small businesses. Wagepoint has you covered so you can focus on your genius work — running your business. We will take care of all of the complexities including government remittances, complex calculations, managing direct deposits and corporate reporting for compliance. We also offer an online employee portal for them to access their T4s and pay stubs on demand. Sign up for free to check it out! You don’t have to pay until you run your first payroll.

Try Wagepoint for free!

Register for Wagefest Summer Camp! It’s FREE.

We look forward to hosting a discussion about re-launching and re-opening your business after lockdown on Thursday, July 22, 2021. If you haven’t registered for Wagepoint Summer Camp, register here! Looking forward to our Campfire Chat on Thursday!

About the Author

Anastasia Valentine

Anastasia Valentine is the Chief Revenue Officer at Wagepoint. She’s well-versed in high tech, leading the charge to innovate, commercialize, market and sell amazing technology solutions. When she isn’t scaling organizations, she is strongly advocating for women in STEM, education and entrepreneurship. She is also a knitting machine... anyone need a scarf?

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