As Covid-19 continues to be a nationwide focal point, businesses have been forced to reevaluate their systems and processes and consider different ways of doing business. Bur are they making the right decisions? There are of course many benefits to taking a look at your entire business and operational process and determining if improvements or efficiencies can be made. In fact, our Business Health Check™ does exactly that. However, we are seeing more and more businesses veering far off course from what made them profitable in the first place, and that is where operational changes can be a detriment to the business. Worse yet, they are doing it based on recommendations and not laws or rules.
Given the sense of urgency to maintain a safe environment for both staff and customers right now, it makes sense to evaluate the precautions that need to be in place. In no way are we advocating to dismiss requirements put forth by local authorities and health departments. Requirements SHOULD be followed, whether you agree with them personally or not. This protects you from potential legal ramifications that may arise with your staff, customers, insurance carriers, etc. However, please take any recommendations under careful consideration and decide if the recommendation is indeed a good fit for the business model. For example, if the Governor has told you that your business is required to not let customers in your business and recommends you sell retail curbside, consider if curbside retail is even profitable to pursue. Otherwise it may make more sense for the business to just remain closed entirely.
Let’s talk for a minute about businesses that have reopened and have completely revamped their sales system. This week we visited a book store to resell books for the first time since Covid. Prior to Covid, you would simply stop in whenever was convenient with your used books and they would sort through them on the spot, make an offer to rebuy them, and you could decide if you wanted to take their offer or pass. Sometimes you would wait 45 minutes to an hour on a busy day, but in general it was a quick and easy process with little down time. Oftentimes you could make a lot more money reselling the books on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Ebay, etc. but Half Price Books was a convenient option. The customer didn’t have to take pictures or research how to price them, customers didn’t have to make a posting for social media, customers didn’t have to coordinate a pick up or drop off schedule and wait for payment. It made it worth a little less money in the customer’s pocket to have that convenience and to be able to resell many items instantly at still a fair price. Now, post Covid, things have changed. Masks are required to enter the store-great, they are protecting their employees. You can still walk in and shop or browse their selection. However, if you want to sell any items, you must make an appointment to do so. The appointments are booked for approximately two weeks out due to “high” demand which we found out later is more about staffing issues. I visited on a Tuesday and was told to call on Friday to inquire about availability for an appointment in the two weeks following that. I left, went home, and listed my items on Facebook Marketplace instead. They were sold in less than two days and I ended up with far more money than if I would have waited and made my resell appointment. Yes, it took more work on my end, but at the point that book store was no longer convenient, it was worth the extra work to me. So why the new policy? Are they short staffed? Are they trying to crowd control? Do customers actually show up two weeks later for their resell appointment, is the staff calling to confirm appointments? We can only speculate, however the point is, the business needs to stay true to the roots of what made it a profitable brand, or it will slowly cease to be relevant any longer. Perhaps a compromise would be offering a limited amount of walk in appointments for the day of? There must be some sort of middle ground to make the business still appeal to their original customer base, or you risk alienating your entire customer base.
Another example of this exists in the salon business. This could be any salon really, but let’s talk about a franchise based chain salon for a minute. Commonly visited by customers seeking a convenient, walk in service, state requirements exist that may force all salons unilaterally to use an appointment now. If it’s a requirement, not a whole lot you can do about it but comply, whether that means same day appointments only or whatever system you dream up. However, if it’s just a recommendation-don’t revamp your entire business model in an effort to appease a few naysayers. It is entirely reasonable to make small tweaks to your operations without alienating your original customer demographic. Maybe this means you crowd control by asking customers to wait in their car instead of the lobby. Maybe you offer early bird hours specifically for high risk customers. But always remember to stay true to what made your business model successful to begin with. If you are known for quick and convenient haircuts, make sure you don’t lose sight of how to keep those a focal point. If you are known for a luxurious spa experience, don’t suddenly expect clients to skip the blow dry and be forced to style their own hair at the same price point as before. If masks are required in your business, don’t alienate clients by immediately yelling at those who unknowingly enter your business without one.
My last example is related to Amazon Prime Now. Prior to Covid, we regularly used Prime Now to have groceries or other essentials delivered within a few hours of ordering. As the pandemic forced more and more people to use Prime Now, there was suddenly a 5-10 day wait to have a grocery delivery. We just gave up and took the risk and bought our groceries ourselves. It was no longer convenient to wait weeks or days. Now, I understand entirely that no business could prepare for the high demand Prime Now was probably facing basically overnight. BUT that being said, four months later when we decided to see if Prime Now had more reasonable delivery windows, we were surprised to see not only did they have instant availability, they had also extended their delivery times much earlier and later in the day. Had Prime Now advertised this in some way to us, we definitely would not have waited four months to begin using their services again. So if you DO make improvements to your business, don’t forget to get the word out to your customers. You are certain to draw some people back in!
Is it important to look at your process and see if there are changes that need to be made? Yes, absolutely!! But don’t sell yourself short and get away from what made your brand appealing and your business model profitable. Make thoughtful decisions that look at the big picture and out further than tomorrow’s success. Stay true to the core values and mission of your business and that will set you up for long term accomplishments after Covid-19. One of the best ways to do this is to get a professional assessment done by us at Devoted Enterprises. Our Business Health Check™ was built for just these exact situations. Find out more today by calling 952-582-4669.