Written by Rose Souders
As the shelter in place order started happening for us Californians in March 2020 and news about the pandemic rolled in, I found it extremely difficult to try and wrap my head around all of the business changes that were happening. I kept thinking; how will we do our sales process to get new clients? What will business and our contracts look like in the following months? We have plans to add a new member to our team this year. Are we still safe and secure enough to move forward with those plans?
After taking the time to survey our customers, brainstorm ideas with some of my colleagues, and re-strategize our approach, here are the business changes that we’ve learned are essential now and in the upcoming months for service-based businesses like Potluck Consulting. We’ve implemented all of these and I’m sharing those insights and aha moments below. I hope it helps!
Customers need flexibility right now.
Through conversations with current and potential customers, it was super clear that flexibility was the main thing that they needed and still need months later. While customers still saw marketing as an important investment for their business, it wasn’t business as usual. They couldn’t approach their business investments in the same way because there were too many unknowns. Commitment to a long-term contract was really scary and the flexibility that they were asking for was shorter-term contracts.
Often in service-based industries like Potluck Consulting that work on a monthly retainer, contracts are usually six months or even twelve months. In response to our customers’ needs, we started offering three-month contracts and held more conversations about the terms they needed to feel secure and good about investing in our marketing strategies.
Flexible payment plans
Payment plans were another easy way that we gave our customers flexibility. While a lot of people were waiting on SBA loans or just waiting to see how fast things would reopen, having as much cash on hand as possible was essential to staying open and afloat. We worked with our clients to create flexible payment plans so that we could continue to market their business during a time where most of their competitors shut off their marketing. These efforts proved to be of great value when businesses started reopening and our clients’ were already visible and ahead.
For most businesses, the silver lining of COVID-19 is time. Take advantage of it.
Unless you’re one of the few lucky ones, you’ve probably lost business during the Coronavirus outbreak. Who are we kidding? Honestly, you’ve probably lost a lot of business. If you’re a service-based business, like Potluck Consulting, then losing business means not only losing revenue, but also gaining time.
When you’re a service-based business, your product is your time.
Having fewer projects means that you likely aren’t selling all of the time that you have to offer. This is a rare opportunity for a business, especially a small one. Normally, business owners often suffer from a catch-22. You have all of these things you want to do and you need to spend time doing it, but you don’t have any time because you’re busy running your business or are doing client work.
Invest that time back into your business.
One of the silver linings during this pandemic is that while it’s a little depressing (okay, it’s honestly very depressing) that you’ve lost business, you actually gain a lot of time to invest back into your own business. The way Potluck Consulting has approached this is that while we’ve lost clients, we treat ourselves as a client now.
Moving forward, we’re definitely keeping in mind these new systems we’ve built. Spending the time revamping our systems and doubling down on our own marketing did pay off and we did see progress from that. It’s super important to remember those wins as you get busier.
Take note of the staffing and business changes that are happening.
Unfortunately, many companies are actually downsizing their staff right now. This could be for a variety of reasons. For example, their company might have had to restructure or perhaps there’s not as much revenue coming in and they’ve had to do layoffs.
There’s an opportunity for service-based businesses to step in.
It’s important to realize that it may actually take a while for companies to build their staff back up. Even when things reopen, people may not rehire their employees back right away or their former employees may not even want to come back to that original job. There’s a lot of change in staffing right now and while laying off employees is not something to celebrate, it does create an opportunity for service-based businesses to step in and provide that service that former staff had been providing.
Take a step back and think about how the pandemic and shelter in place affect your sales process and your target market.
- Customers need flexibility right now.
- For most, the silver lining of COVID is time. Take advantage of it.
- Take note of the staffing changes. Take a step back and think about how the pandemic and shelter in place affect your sales process and your target market.
Don’t be afraid to make some business changes this year. Taking stock of how your clients and potential clients are doing and then adapting to that is smart. Change is hard, but you got this. Reach out if you need a sounding board. We all need a strong teammate during this game. We’re in overtime, after all. Good luck, friends. Stay safe and healthy.
If you’re looking for more resources, try this shortlist of relevant blogs for assistance + subscribe to the Potluck Consulting newsletter to get our weekly emails. Click the purple “Newsletter” tab at the bottom of your screen.
- How to Get Repeat Customers Buying from Your eCommerce Website
- Should I promote my “non-essential” business during the Coronavirus outbreak?
- How to Reassure Customers During COVID-19 Using Social Media
This blog concept is from a workshop that Rose Souders spoke at virtually for the 2020 San Francisco Small Business Week with three other co-presenters called “Hit the Reset Button: Strategies for Reopening & Thriving After COVID-19.”