Here we are in September 2020, over halfway through the year living in what most people describe as the ‘new normal’.
When I think of independent businesses a few words come to mind: creative, dynamic and determined. What I have witnessed from some of the local businesses in my area as well as some of my Clients over the last few months begs the question to be asked, are independent businesses going to come out on top?
I truly think they are.
CONNECTING WITH YOUR CUSTOMER IS VITAL | KNOW YOUR CLIENT BASE
Not only do I want to support the independent businesses I connect with and follow by shopping with them but some of the genius ways businesses have adapted and diversified is incredible.
Being independent can have its benefits especially when dealing with a worldwide pandemic. Decisions can be made quickly… no hierarchy to deal with and persuade and certainly no long drawn out meetings with differences of opinions. Most of the time a good business owner knows their clients well and is therefore able to offer that personal touch.
INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES HAD TO ADAPT SWIFTLY | BESPOKE OFFERINGS | KEEPING THEIR COMMUNITY AT HEART
Most businesses quickly got their act together and offered a Covid-19 friendly online service. Knowing and understanding their customers has been key to this, with most offering a bespoke service. Those who have kept their community close and worked on reaching a new audience by going online, communicating through social media and adapting to the needs and wants of customers through lockdown have kept them front and foremost in peoples minds.
Many of my Clients have adapted quickly and consequently now offer different services… my health and fitness clients now offer a fully online timetable of classes and appointments. Caswell House, a stunning wedding venue property in the Cotswolds is now renting bedrooms out via AirBnB and offering space for photo shoots and brand shoots as well as offering their spaces for retreats.
We’ve seen farmers turn their farm fields into Drive In cinemas. Fruit & Veg shops team up with local butchers offering a bespoke ‘shopping’ service. Photographers offering ‘virtual’ photo shoots and online workshops.
NEW WAYS OF WORKING, A NEW NORMAL | THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
So what have we learned? Well first and foremost, we can’t just go back to the old ways… I think the trick is to be quick to adapt, think outside the box and as far as you are able to, change your business offering to fit the times we are now in AND the needs of your customers. Was it in the 2020 business plan? Most definitely not, but what we have realised is flexibility in how we work and staying connected to our audience is VITAL.
So how can we support independent businesses?
Firstly always try and shop with them / use their services where possible – many now offer a swift and easy delivery service and have gone online to make ordering easier. Many also offer a wrapping or personal message service if you are sending a gift. With service based companies, many are working incredibly hard to make their clients feel welcome – often it is easier to build up a strong relationship with an independent company as the owners are closer to the everyday running of the company.
Share your good experience on your social media, with friends and family and put positive reviews on their website – many small businesses rely heavily on recommendations.
If you have a experienced great customer service let them know! Encouragement is sooooo welcomed and makes it all worthwhile!
I’m interested to hear from you. What local, independent businesses have you seen adjust their model and thrive in this post-Covid-19 era? It is time to celebrate the success stories. It’s also time to spread some positive business news.