OPINION: Keeping business on track during a crisis

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The team at Custard Communications share their top tips on keeping business on track during this closure period, ensuring your team stay engaged and what steps to take to maintain your communication with customers.

Social Media

Let people know you are closed. Reinforce that your priorities are retaining your staff and looking out for your customers and highlight what you’ll be doing during the closure.

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  • Engage with your audience, peers and suppliers through social media.
  • Do not engage in dispute.

Direct communication

Send an email to your database. Confirm what is closed and what is open. Explain what your staff will be doing during the closure and that you’re accepting enquiries/bookings for future months.

Communicate with all bookings for March/April to explain cancellation and opportunity of postponement. Avoid matter of fact tone and communicate empathetic efforts to overcome this challenging time.

Communicate with all bookings in limbo for May to explain that you’ll keep them regularly updated.

Update your website with relevant information and the latest statements.

Local community

Seek opportunities to support your local community.

Suggestions include:

  •  Offering accommodation for NHS/key workers to stay for free during time. of need.
  • Offering free car parking space for key workers to avoid the need for public transport into cities.
  • Offering venue spaces to local authorities for storage or a ‘hub’ space.
  • Offering soap or cleaning products from hotels/venues to vulnerable members via beauty banks.
  • Arrange for your staff to contact vulnerable members of the society (especially over 70s) by telephone for a chat.
  • Create a space for volunteers to drop off food to be taken to those self-isolating.

Resources: 

  • Making any suggestions to help NHS workers, please direct ideas to: gcfcovidenquiries@cabinetoffice.gov.uk and England.spocsKH@nhs.net
  • Information on setting up community hubs:
  • https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/guidance-and-resources/comms-hubcommunications
  • Information on listing free car parking spaces with JustPark: https://www.justpark.com/about/coronavirus-appeal/support/coronaviruscommunications
  • https://covidmutualaid.org/
  • https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/befriending-services/
  • https://www.beautybanks.org.uk/

Consumables

Do not let anything go to waste. From produce and flowers growing in the garden to food and anything perishable that won’t last in the kitchen. Ideas include:

  • Donating to local charity/community/food banks
  • Creating order/collect
  • Offering food to staff for personal use
  • Utilising local delivery (if appropriate)
  • Nominating deliveries to those in need through social media (care packages)
  • Partnering with a school having to stay open for children in need
  • Spa products/packages for Easter
  • Creating ready-made meals for key workers to collect on way home from work
  • Creating vegetable/fruit boxes of homegrown produce for key workers
  • Dropping off flowers to vulnerable people or care homes to brighten up their days

Resources:

Staffing

Wellbeing

Whether your team are working from home or onsite in accommodation, the wellbeing of the team is key. From encouraging exercise to facilitating contact with families, include activities into their schedule:

  • Houseparty App (interactive staff socials)
  • Free workout apps including Technogym’s MyWellness, Peloton, https://www.downdogapp.com/ • https://watch.lesmillsondemand.com/at-home-workouts
  • Event Well’s weekly Wellbeing Wednesday virtual lunches (https://t.co/rRejy7SDgQ?amp=1)
  • Encourage staff members to download Zoom (www.zoom.us) and arrange virtual meet ups, virtual birthday celebrations or just team catchups

Internal communications

Schedule daily calls or conversations with the whole team to update them on internal processes and any changes in governmental advice. Share challenges and best practice to make the most of working remotely. As above, Zoom is a good platform for this.

Training and development

This is an opportunity to train and develop your teams. There are a number of online resources available free of charge. You could categorise learning into general wellbeing, interesting hobbies, industry knowledge, digital marketing, certification etc.

Accommodation

As you’ll be aware, the NHS are calling on thousands of retired workers to return to work and many existing workers to work long hours and extra shifts in response to demand in hospitals. Up to 45,000 self-isolation accommodation spaces are being sought. Hotels and venues can think about how their unused spaces could be utilised during this time.

Ideas include:

  •  Offering space to local hospitals and NHS trusts
  • Providing accommodation for medical staff
  • Offering accommodation to homeless people who can’t self-isolate
  • Resources:
  • Making any suggestions to help NHS workers, please direct ideas to: gcfcovidenquiries@cabinetoffice.gov.uk and England.spocsKH@nhs.net

Outdoor space

While you are closed you could still promote the outdoor space for people to enjoy alone or with members of their household. Walking, cycling, running tracks or trails will all provide opportunities for local residents and businesses.

Expertise

Utilise the expertise of your team to share insights with online audiences.

This could include:

  • Chef videos and masterclasses
  • Gardeners top tips
  • Growing fruit/veg
  • Stories behind what happens during the closure
  • Housekeeping tips
  • Home Spa tips / videos
  • Bartenders top mixology tips for creating cocktails
  • Local area highlights
  • Walks and exercise tips

Resources: 

  • http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/chef-masterclass-videos
  • https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-create-a-youtube-channel

Creativity

Think about how you can promote the values and story of your brand.

  • Videos of the surrounding landscape
  • History of your business
  • Virtual activity – night in the pub, Easter egg hunt all online
  • Interiors and design
  • Link to national days/themes

Preparation for opening

To be ready to reopen, now is the time to get everything in order, from tidying up folders on your systems through to analysing your database and profiling your consumers. Here are some suggestions.

  • Writing copy for the website
  • Updating and developing menus
  • Preparations for Christmas/New Year
  • Analysis of database
  • Campaign plans for 2020/2021
  • Reviewing sustainability or CSR initiatives to implement
  • Plan a re-opening event or offer for spa members/local diners
  • Clean up your database so you are ready to communicate once you re-open

Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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