We’re all figuring out what the “new normal” means to us and our families. Local business owners are navigating through how to be there for their employees and customers. Everybody has a great deal of questions about how to manage their business and get through these uncertain times brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and not all of them have clear answers.
As a local business in the home services industry, you are facing a particularly unique challenge. When most of society is shutting down and staying home, that’s not necessarily the case for you. While it’s easy to postpone an eye doctor or dentist appointment a few months, that can’t be said for home repairs. If someone’s roof is leaking, that’s something they’ll have to address asap. If someone’s A/C unit goes out, they’ll want to get it fixed before the summer months arrive. We’ve also heard from Surefire Local customers that because people are staying at home, they’re starting to realize how much they want to remodel their kitchen, bathroom, basement, you name it, and are now taking the time to do so since they know they’ll be home for an extended period of time.
To add another layer of complexity to this “new normal”, with the Spring storm season fast approaching, homeowners are going to need your help more than ever to repair any damages caused by heavy rain, strong winds, or hail.
In this blog article, we’re going to cover an action plan that can help you and your team respond to a major event, such as a storm or a pandemic, more efficiently and effectively. Ideally, it will help your business be in a position to be a leader in your local community and take the proper action to help those in need.
5 Step Crisis Management Plan
Step 1: Establish a crisis management leadership team and overall mindset.
It’s critical that you establish one shared mindset for your organization. That starts with executives and reaches all the way down to lower level employees. I think the best way, and maybe the most effective way, to accomplish that is by creating a crisis management leadership team. This might commonly look like the heads of each department coming together, but it could include other level employees. The big thing you want to do is make sure each department is represented. You want a single train of thought for everyone, and leaving an entire team of people to feel out of the loop doesn’t bode well for confidence.
It should be the responsibility of the leadership team to come together and discuss what’s going on and decide how to move forward.
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Surefire Local’s leadership team is meeting daily to discuss the latest happenings and to determine if any adjustments are needed in strategy. One such change is that we’re communicating with all Surefire Local customers on a consistent basis, two to three times a week, sharing content we’ve created to help them during the outbreak as well as trending stories like the legislation that was recently passed, granting small businesses much needed funds.
Step 2: Create a plan.
Once you have the mindset established and a general direction to guide your actions, it’s time to figure out exactly how you’re going to execute. When you’re creating a plan, it’s important to think about it in a few phases.
- Quick hits: What can be done today, tomorrow, next week to help alleviate some stress and help in the immediate futuFre? Social distancing created a ton of new challenges overnight for local businesses. Most have been able to adapt by hosting meetings virtually instead of in-person and offering special deals to help build pipeline for both today and a few months down the road. Some Surefire Local customers have adopted a “pay now, do the work later” offer for homeowners that are especially worried about inviting anyone into their homes.
- Nurture: What can be done later in the month, 2 to 3 months out, and 6 to 9 months out? By all accounts, the “Stay at Home” measures implemented to help combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) are likely to last until mid-to late summer. As a local business, you should have a plan in place that helps get your business from where it is today to that point in time. Think of it as a bridge. In the event of a storm, not all damage to a house will be immediate. Establishing a plan to reconnect with homeowners in your local neighborhoods 9 to 12 months down the road is smart.
- Worst case scenario: This plan will only be activated when there is no other choice. It’s the plan that cuts things down to the bare minimum so that you can stay in business until the pandemic is under control. Things like turning off your marketing and advertising.
I personally like to hope for the best, but plan for the worst. That way, no matter what happens, I have some idea of what to do in the event of incredible uncertainty and stress. Kyle Hoffman, shared what his team has done in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak – from asking employees to take their temperature each morning and recording it in a spreadsheet to having more virtual meetings. You can watch that interview to learn more.
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Step 3: Leverage available digital tools to maximize efficiency.
Speaking about virtual meetings, there are a ton of digital tools available to local businesses that can greatly increase productivity. These tools are able to streamline communication and maximize efficiency across the entire organization. By using the right tools, you’ll gain visibility into all activities being done, and have transparency into the effectiveness of those activities.
We listed 53 local marketing tools that could be beneficial. These tools can help all facets of the organization:
- Communication tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom for video conferencing and Slack for direct messaging.
- Reputation management tools to receive alerts each time a new review is posted about your business online and have the ability to respond to all reviews in one place.
- Online advertising tools to see which ads are running, the results they’re generating, and the overall ROI.
- Lead management tools so you can respond immediately to new lead inquiries, and see if someone on the team has already reached out or not.
Step 4: Invest in marketing and take advantage of all mediums and channels.
Believe it or not, the best time to invest in digital marketing is during a crisis. Having said that, it’s only recommended if it’s within your means of doing so.
While most local businesses will react out of fear for the unknown and turn off their marketing and advertising altogether, that opens the door to new opportunities for those that can weather the storm. In doing so, you’ll see less demand, but higher conversions and a lower cost per new customer because of it. Learn more about the newest Google trends and the results local businesses are seeing with paid advertising during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Step 5: Review, learn, and adapt.
The best plan, and business, is an agile one. As the situation plays itself out in the world and new information is brought to light, you’ll likely have to pivot strategies. While your crisis management leadership team meets, it’s critical that you reflect on your progress and the current state of affairs to see if any changes are warranted. Learn about what is working and what isn’t, and identify areas that can be improved.
For most local businesses, the need to provide each customer with an outstanding customer experience is paramount. Being there for customers during times of stress and uncertainty can be the foundation of strong relationships for years to come. A relationship that one day leads to referrals after things have returned to normal.
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Want to learn more?
Surefire Local is in a unique position to help small businesses across the country because our platform is the most powerful and cost-effective way to take back control of digital marketing and make sure you know what is working.
The Surefire Local Marketing Platform gives you an “operating system” that enables you to manage your business’s online presence in one place. Through an A.I.-powered platform, you’re able to see the effectiveness of all your activities in one place, and instantly know what’s working. Having this ability is crucial to not wasting money when cash is in short supply.
You can learn more by visiting our Coronavius (COVID-19) Resource Center for Small Businesses.