Need for change
Focus on your local community
HERE iS HOW IT COULD WORK
The pandemic has severely affected local taxi companies, with fewer people travelling around, if at all. Should you wish to serve customers in your local vicinity, you could contact a local taxi driver or firm and agree on a fixed daily rate. You could reach out to the driver or firm whenever you have deliveries on a specific day. Let us say, for example, that the daily cost was $100. The fee could be equally divided amongst your orders. To follow this approach, you must inform your customers of any expenses that will likely affect their order before applying the charge. So, if you had ten orders out for delivery, each customer would be required to pay an additional $10 for delivery – the more customer orders, the lower the delivery charge. If taxi companies are not an option, many logistics companies still offer a home delivery service.
Work together and utilise existing technology
Many businesses will be similar to yours, so why not work together? Take the example of using a local taxi delivery service. Rather than the driver collecting from one business, they could pick up from multiple businesses, delivering essential items to customers within the local area. Fluctuating stock and availability might also be a problem. Should you be unsure what inventory will be available day-to-day, you could set up ways to communicate with your customers. Methods such as WhatsApp, email groups or Facebook posts where customers could check daily to understand what is available. Once they establish items they may wish to purchase, they could call in or email orders directly to you.
Use your specialist supply chains
Now let’s look at various business areas and sectors.
RESTAURANTS, CAFES AND FOOD RETAILERS
Today, we live in the ready meal and easy access to food culture. Many individuals in the lockdown cannot cook at all or create limited meals following simple recipes. Using stock you have, why not devise simple menus that could easily transition into home deliveries. These simple menus could be offered to customers in your local area and be delivered to homes daily. Cafes traditionally serving breakfast menus could offer take-out breakfast in a box or desserts such as waffles and pancakes. Restaurants could offer a three-course home delivery experience, delivered and warmed in the customer’s own home. Test the waters in your local area to see if there would be any demand for these types of services.
Depending on how long the lockdown lasts, it is likely that bars, clubs, coffee shops and anywhere offering beverages will see their sales greatly affected. Many of these businesses will also likely have a large stock of perishable items that might not last months, and many of these products will be in demand. For bars, clubs and pubs, you could potentially bottle products from a tap or keg, as well as already packaged products via a home delivery service. Any bottles used could be reused and sterilised each time, with customers paying a small deposit for any bottles used. You could either create cold beverage ranges or drinks that the customers can reheat at home for coffee and tea houses. Lastly, following the community example, you could offer your unused space. You could make additional money by charging a small fee for your large, currently not used business areas. Local businesses could use the available and substantial footage to store excess stock or bulky items.
PET FOOD AND SUPPLIERS
There has been a significant surge in pet foods and supplies. Many large chains only offer customers a limited range and likely hold and have access to minimal stock. Reach out to your local community and tap into a home delivery service, such as a local taxi or an established delivery company. If you still have pets in your store and cannot take them home, ask if people in the community would be willing to help by taking fish or birds into their homes during this pandemic. Many countries are classifying pet food as an essential supply. If you do not want to tap into the home delivery approach, you could contact local supermarket chains to find out if they would like to purchase your stock from you.
TRADESPEOPLE, HAIRDRESSERS, BARBERS, ETC.
You will likely be significantly affected by the lockdown. Many trades, such as electricians, gas engineers, and plumbers, will still be called out for emergencies. However, customers undergoing new projects and general maintenance will typically be put on hold. Haircuts, nails, and tanning services are not considered essential, so customers in many countries could be fined for using such services. Cash flow will be a big issue for many tradespeople, so adopting a prepaid discount for loyal customers could be one approach. After the pandemic, customers who use your services could prepay at a discounted rate, giving you access to much-needed capital. So, for example, if a gas engineer carries out annual maintenance checks for customers each year, you could offer a 20% discount if the customers pay in advance. Hairdressers and barbers could offer a ‘two for one’ haircut deals, and nail and tanning technicians could offer bulk purchase discounts. The prepay approach would likely allow you to get immediate cash flow during these difficult times. However, any commitments you make now would have to be factored into your business schedule when things return to normal. Should you go down the prepaid route, ensure you place a defined timeframe or an expiry date. If you do not, you could have little income for years to come if people decide to bulk purchase now.
WEDDING PLANNERS AND SPECIAL EVENT ORGANISERS
Many weddings and special events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future; however, planners and organisers offer their customers hope. We know that this pandemic will eventually slow, and life will slowly return to normal. By still engaging with your customers, you could use the time within lockdown to keep momentum, iron out details, and prepare for when the lockdown ends. If you are organised and plan ahead, you would likely keep many of these important events on track, especially if they will occur later in the year. If the pandemic lasts longer than anticipated, what about thinking about innovative ways for unions and special occasions to happen still? You could consider working with clients to perform virtual weddings. Guest parcels could be created to help them feel involved, including meals delivered directly to guests’ homes, group screen sharing of the big day and many other innovative solutions. Though many customers might be reluctant, remember that you represent hope, and life does not stop; things are on pause for the moment.
BAKERS, CAKE MAKERS AND SPECIALIST FOOD COMPANIES
The biggest issue facing many at present is the availability of ingredients such as flour, yeast, eggs, sugar etc. All of the items are currently purchased on mass by bulk buyers and featured on every hoarder’s shopping list. Should you have stock or established supply chains where these items are readily available, why not continue making essential items such as loaves of bread and rolls. Businesses and individuals could easily make other essential items such as pasta with the right cooking equipment. Establish the needs within your local community and tap into a home-delivery network.
HOTELS, RESORTS AND ACCOMMODATION PROVIDERS
With the lockdown in force, it is unlikely that you will be receiving new guests anytime soon. To increase occupancy rates, here are a few ideas that could help to utilise your venue:
- Offer a quarantine service – especially for multi-generational homes, where family members are considered high risk. You could offer a room with three basic meals each day for affordable prices. With food left outside the room minimising interactions with guests
- If close to a hospital or emergency service – offer free or housing at discount rates to emergency workers. If you are an independent business and would be unable to provide accommodation free of charge, why not start a crowdfunding page asking the local community to help fund the housing for critical workers
- Storage – offering your building and rooms to local businesses to store additional and excess stock for a reasonable fee
- Stranded individuals – with borders around the world closing, why not offer reasonable rates to stranded individuals, with long-term discounts available
FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
There is a lot of activity for law firms at the moment, with companies asking their lawyers to look at contractual obligations and terminations due to force majeures and the current restrictions as a result of the pandemic. For professionals and specialist firms, though some will still be extremely busy right now, for others, there is an opportunity to engage with the various governments. Countries worldwide have implemented various financial packages to help individuals and businesses through difficult times. The scale of these changes and the implementation to all of the millions affected is a mammoth task. Should trained professionals approach governments with a reasonable compensation request, they could be hired to assist with the current volumes.
Buses and trains still operate in many countries, typically offering a heavily reduced service. There are opportunities to support local businesses in terms of home deliveries for taxis, coaches, private bus companies, haulage, and people with vans. Many hospitals rely on volunteers and taxi companies to drive recently released patients’ homes. Anyone with a van or licence to drive lorries and haulage vehicles is being called upon to transport essential medical supplies and food around the country.
- Home fitness workouts – reach out to your existing customers and devise a workout plan for them from home. You could schedule a video conferencing session in which you help with the routine, so still offering a one-to-one workout regime
- Pre-paid sessions- offering discounts to customers who purchase your services now, which could be used after the pandemic ends. Prepay for two yoga sessions now and get one free or two nail treatments for the price of one
The recent pandemic has devastated travel companies and those working within the travel sector. Likely, thousands have become unemployed, and many are unsure when customers will likely begin travelling again. Though the impact is severe to this sector, they are also the best and most equipped to help stranded passengers. Most travel operators and agents have specialist systems to view available flights worldwide in real-time. These systems will enable them to get the best and most affordable flights to get people home.
- Cancellations – many stranded passengers are forced to frequently pay thousands of dollars for flights only to have them cancelled at the last minute. If agents charged an administration fee and their usual commission, they could help customers by monitoring and getting them on the next available flights and adapting to any changes causing the least disruption to the customer
- Cruise liners – many of the cruise lines currently docked could be converted into cargo ships, helping to transport much-needed medical supplies and food around the globe. Alternatively, these types of vessels could also be used as makeshift hospitals
- Grounded passenger planes – could be used to transport cargo, food and supplies around the world. If a typical passenger plane carries around 400 passengers, it could still take 100-200 passengers, with the remaining seats used for cargo. This approach would give stranded passengers the ability to get home and supplies and food to be distributed across the globe
If we all work together, adapt to change and are fair, we will come out of this together. At the same time, there is an opportunity for you and your business to build a loyal and committed customer base long into the future.
I wish you the best of luck and stay safe
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