The next couple of months will be telling ones. We’re not saying a lockdown is inevitable, but a lot of communities have spent the past week or so escalating their precautionary levels and this article will give you some advice for overcoming slower business times with a potential shelter in place order.

Ditch Your Space

We’re not making any friends with landlords here but there are some businesses that just don’t require storefronts anymore. One way to survive is to eliminate your biggest expenses, and for most, rent (or mortgage on a building) ranks right up there at the top of the list.


Is your business the type that can function without a physical space? What are you giving up? A survey by website provider BlueHost in August 2020 found that 48% of business owners surveyed said they saw no reason for a physical space in the future.


Even if you have slightly less business from lack of foot traffic, consider what it’s costing you to run the physical space. You can even consult with a tax adviser to see if there are tax benefits or deductions you can be taking if you move your business to a spot in your home.

Boost Social and Online

Whether you’re giving up your physical space or not, you have to hit social media hard right now if you want to stay in business. Keep in mind that while some people want to buy local this holiday, sometimes going down and strolling Main Street isn’t possible with schedules (or at all if businesses are shut down). Those people may look for local shops online and may be
surprised how few offer online purchase options.


One business announced the temporary physical closing of their storefront and suggested web visitors make an appointment to come to the store. What is the likelihood for someone who’s online to decide to make an appointment to come to a physical location? They are online with credit card in hand. They are in the mood to buy, not make appointments. You’re losing business if you’re asking people to make appointments with you.

At the very minimum, you need:

  • Online purchasing options.

You can do this through outside sites (more about that in the next section) or your own online store. Even if you sell services and not products, you should be looking for ways to sell online. That’s where people are spending their time these days.

  • Images of what you sell.

The business that wanted potential customers to make an appointment sold handmade jewelry and yet there wasn’t a single picture of their products on their site. Missed opportunity. If you sell services, videos and images of your work should be on your website.

  • A presence on social media.

Build those follower numbers by sharing amazing content. Facebook is cracking down on what they show people in their streams. Check out your stream. How many posts are sponsored posts? Every fourth post of mine is sponsored. You either need money to reach your audience or you need them interacting with you.

Get Out There

A lot of businesses don’t want to take on the hassle of an online store but there are easier ways than a WordPress Plug-in (although those are really easy and not as intimidating as you might think) or online commerce software (again, the technology is getting a lot easier to set up than it once was). If you don’t want to run your own and sell from your website, you can sell on:

  • Ebay
  • Amazon
  • Etsy
  • Walmart
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • A Facebook Page
  • Facebook Pages in your area and elsewhere (check the terms of the group first)
  • Alibab
  • Google Express

There are also commerce places for specific types of businesses like Uber Eats, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Slice (pizza) for restaurants, Best Buy and Newegg for tech, and Bonanza and Hollar for fashion. Don’t think that online sites are just for physical goods. There are many booking sites for people who offer specific services too from fishing charters to wedding
officiants. Listing your services on these sites can help you reach new customers for a small price.


This is a disconcerting time for small business owners, but flexibility is key to staying in business. Cut costs and stay top of mind with customers. You can easily do this online with the many options out there.

There can be a desperation that you feel on social media. Many businesses are creating content that demands “look at me.” But while some may believe that “shouting” into social media is the way to get attention, it rarely is. Usually, all that accomplishes is someone ignoring you the way a stranger might sidestep a toddler having a tantrum in a grocery store.

Yes, tantrums get attention, but not the kind you want in order to get customers to buy from you. Instead, you want a more subtle approach. Here are several ways you can get attention for you and your business that have nothing to do with shouting or demanding it.

Show How You Help

Sure, telling people how you can help them is very important. But you should also incorporate some showing, not just telling. For example, Amazon created a holiday commercial that features a young girl working on her ballet routine. She works hard in every spot imaginable. She eats, lives and breathes ballet. As she prepares for the big recital, she receives notification that it’s been cancelled. She’s despondent until her family creates a homemade recital for her on their apartment’s roof.

Neighbors watch the girl perform lit solely by flashlights ordered from—you guessed it—the mega retailer. She finishes the dance in a beautiful moment and the words, “The show must go on” come across the screen with a well-placed logo. This commercial only features a fleeting glimpse of the brand and never talks about it in any way. But it shows exactly how Amazon can help and they do so with story. Which brings us to…

Tell a Story

Everyone claims to be the best, most efficient, best priced, etc. But all those superlative claims can get lost on social media since everyone is saying the same thing. Have you ever once heard a business claim to have adequate customer service?


Of course not!

It’s always the best. They put the customer first.


But if everyone claims to do that, how does the customer figure out who really is the best? They don’t. They ignore those claims and look at something else like reviews.


But what is the one thing about you that is different?


It’s your story.


No one has the same story that you do. You are unique in that way. And no one has the same customer stories that you do. You can differentiate yourself from the other businesses by getting personal and telling your story of what motivates you and how you help your customers.


Again, telling your story is not you writing sentences about how you got into your business. That’s only part of it. Think about that Amazon commercial. Amazon told a brilliant story about how they are there for people when others aren’t (the show must go on) but they never said those words. They implied it through story.


Tell about your customers’ struggles and how you fit in to help them be their best selves. You needn’t say the words “we helped them.” But you must show how you did.

Fail Big

Is there some problem that plagues your business or industry? Something that everyone dismisses with a “well, it is what it is”?


If so, fix it.


If you do, you’ll be a hero. If you don’t, you’ll fail. But you’ll fail big because you took on something no one else has. They’ll talk about your efforts. Car dealerships did this when the first one went to “no-haggle” pricing or Carvana went to selling cars sight unseen through a virtual vending machine.


JCPenney’s tried to provide a good value environment by lowering its everyday prices and doing away with sales and coupons. It tried to give consumers an inexpensive buying experience whenever they wanted it, not just during sales.

It turns out, people love sales and coupons and Penney’s failed. But they failed big and they got a lot of press and people talking about them. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough, but you have to admire their gumption.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to play up your uniqueness. Do this through story and sharing your life with your audience. Don’t be afraid to fail. Through it, you’ll learn something about you and your audience.

As social distancing continues into the midpart of 2020, millions of small businesses continue to feel the effects of empty storefronts and restaurants, causing considerable alarm for their future. While this may seem staggering and bleak, there is certainly hope. More independent businesses have gotten creative by taking their storefronts and offerings online.

If you typically follow your favorite businesses on social media, which you totally should, then a quick scroll-through of your feed will reveal some crafty marketing techniques driven by the challenges we all currently face. Restaurants offering their goods curbside or through delivery, movie theaters selling bags of popcorn to make your streaming session a little cozier, or DIY craft cocktail kits assembled by your favorite pubs, there are seemingly endless ways small businesses have temporary reinvented themselves to adapt.

All of this to make our lives seem a bit more normal. All of this to support the community. By celebrating small businesses and buying local, we can ensure we all make it through these challenging times together.

How Do I Support Small Business During Quarantine?

The solution to supporting small businesses during quarantine is to purchase online. Whether it’s a gift card or a to-go order, a prepaid arrangement with your landscaper or a virtual session with the piano instructor, modern problems require modern solutions and thankfully, we have the internet and each other.

To help do our part, we’ve collected a list of ways we can support small business all year round in a constantly connected world.

Shop online

One of the simplest ways to help also happens to be one of the most effective — shop online! Many of your favorite retailers are crafting quarantine packs filled with your favorite goodies for you to order online or over the phone. By checking up through Facebook or other social media, you can find your favorite retailers making great efforts to bridge the social gap by making mail order or curbside service delivery options available.

Purchase gift cards

Think outside the stocking! Gift cards aren’t just last-minute gifts meant for the holiday season; gift cards help inject much needed revenue into small business economy. Get some coffee for coworkers. Plan a spa date for a special someone. Buy a thank-you meal for the essential worker in your life. By purchasing a gift card from your favorite retailer, you’re keeping independent sellers in business all year round.

Tip like you mean it

Waitstaff have it rough during these uncertain times with restaurants, bars and other social gathering hubs closing their doors to the public. Fewer hours, slower business and a complete lack of patrons to serve means less income and increased stress.

Most waitstaff rely on the generosity of their patrons to make ends meet, so remember, if you order something, tip well! Generally, at the very least, 20 percent is the standard.

Keep supporting small

Treating yourself now and again can certainly feel good, but perhaps the greatest feeling comes from knowing you’re supporting small, local and independent business. Business that, in turn, supports the community and local economy. Rather than scouring hundreds of pages from your go-to big box retailer, consider giving that local shop a visit.

Schedule it

Holidays are still planned throughout the year, so consider your gift purchasing a little early. This could also be a nice time for you to support small by purchasing a service now that can be used later. Maybe you needed some work done around your house? Small business owners love to see their calendars marked up with work, so help out by contacting them today.

Promote

Think of your favorite local business. Any business will do. Ok, now think of five friends you would like to share your appreciation of that small business with. That’s it! That’s how you can make some of the biggest Small Business Saturday impacts. By promoting your favorite local establishments to friends, family and followers you care about.

Give thanks

These are difficult times for everyone. By supporting those who serve and support us, those who feed and clothe us and those who provide good times, we’re offering a bit of gratitude for what they do for our communities. We wouldn’t be the us we are without the small, independent businesses who see that our needs and wants are met, day in and day out.

Give thanks by giving back.

*Originally posted at: https://www.amfam.com/resources/articles/safe-and-happy-family/celebrating-small-business

Most people will agree Google is a large part (dare we say owner?) of the internet, at least from a marketing perspective. That means whether we like it or not we have to try to play nicely with the giant search engine. One of the easiest ways to get on Google’s good side is through ensuring Your Google My Business listing is optimized.

While it seems pretty obvious how you can optimize your listing there are still many businesses out there that don’t do it. And yet it’s so easy to make these quick changes and additions.

  • Fill out the entire profile. You know that quote about intentions and a certain road to somewhere paved with them? It’s definitely true of businesses that say, “I’ll just fill this out now and add the rest of the details later.“ Later never comes. Don’t leave an incomplete profile. Google is giving you an easy way to catch the attention of its search engine. The search engine advises, “Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches.”
  • Keep your listing up-to-date. If something changes with your location, the hours, the offerings, or anything else don’t forget to change it on your Google My Business profile. Even if the change is temporary, as in a temporary closing of a location, always make sure your listing has your most up-to-date information. If someone is doing a Google search, you don’t want them to be frustrated with the results on your business.
  • Add all your locations. Make sure you add all your locations to your business profile. If you have more than 10, you can add them in bulk.  
  • Flag inappropriate reviews. While you never want to flag a review just because you disagree with it, there are times where people use extremely vulgar or otherwise offensive language. There are also occasions where trolls will say things about your business that aren’t true. There have even been situations where people have reviewed businesses and there’s no record of them being clients. If you come across an erroneous or offensive review, submit them to Google.
  • Use keywords in your listing. Sure, you want to use the obvious ones but spend some time brainstorming on other keywords and phrases your customers could be using to find your services. Sometimes it’s not so much a subject as a question someone might ask. There is also a cool feature called Google Trends that helps you locate trending keywords. For instance, if you were a florist you would obviously use the keyword “florist.” But after visiting Google trends you may discover that “red roses” is trending in search because it’s National Roses Day. Using that phrase may help you get more traffic to your store or website.
  • Add photos. Profiles with photos get attention. In fact, Google estimates that profiles with photos get 35% more web traffic then those without. Make sure you upload pictures for your cover and your profile but also add additional pictures of your location, your staff, and/or your goods and services.
  • Use special offers. Google My Business also allows you to include special offers. An offer can mean the difference between someone choosing you or choosing your competitor. Use the post function to upload a special offer, news, or previews to future things in your business.

Google My Business is one of the easiest free ways to get traffic to your site. But it only works when you take the time to ensure you’re using it to its full potential.

Hello Neighbors!

Just a reminder:

The Angel Tree Program will be held again this year! Applications can be picked up at the Family Resource Exchange (5 S. Broadway, Herington), or the Chamber of Commerce office (106 N Broadway, Herington) and turned in at the FRE for approval. The dates to apply are November 2nd to 20th, 2020. Children from birth to senior in high school will be accepted for the program. Income limits apply. The angels will go on trees by November 23rd and can be picked up then. I will have locations of Angels as we get closer to that date. All gifts and donations will need to be returned to the Chamber of Commerce, where they will then be available at their respective local distribution areas where they can be picked up December 22nd and 23rd.

Support Local Businesses this year by shopping small and playing our scrabble game! Participating businesses will have scrabble tiles to hand out when you make a purchase (in-store or online) or donation to the Angel Tree program. There will be a grand prize drawing from all completed entries that will be made up of donations from local businesses. Stop by the Tri-County Area Chamber of Commerce building (106 N Broadway, Herington) beginning November 23rd to pick up a game board and receive your first token! The game will run from 11/23/2020 to 12/17/2020.

Save the date: Small Business Saturday is 11/28/2020 – Make a BIG IMPACT and shop small.

Have a wonderful week!

With roughly a month left to Small Business Saturday, I thought I would share some ideas for a successful day!

The day after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday. There are many ways you can get involved in this event that promotes buying from small businesses. Here are a few ways you can make the most of this time for your business even if you have very little time to prepare.

1. Be open. You can’t take part if you’re closed. In fact, you may consider extending your hours for that day or for the entire weekend. However, if you do, you need to market this on social media and your website.

2. Contact your local chamber. Find out how they’re celebrating and how you can be a part of it.

3. Bring your store outside. If the climate and space allow, consider bringing a rack or some other showing of your business out to the sidewalk to draw people in. If you do, have a sales associate there with a portable payment option for frictionless transactions.

4.Create specials for that day and post them to social media. Or tell people to watch your social media postings for exclusive flash sales.

5. Host contests or special drawings to build the fun.

6. Send out a special evite to your email list about Small Business Saturday.

7. Tell your business story on social media or on your blog.

8. Update your website with Small Business Saturday occurrences, specials, contests, etc.

9. Invite a band or DJ to your business to create a special atmosphere.

10. Giveaway fun swag for the first several patrons.

11. Offer samples of your products.

12. Serve delicious food.

13. Place a few cinnamon sticks in a warmer to add a delicious smell to your business.

14. Download materials from American Express, the organizers of Small Business Saturday. You can print images, watch how-to videos, and more on their site.

15. Call all hands on deck. Increase your employee coverage so that you can provide very personalized service. If someone is stopping by for the first time, you want to ensure they leave talking about you in a good way.

16. Give a “friends and family” discount to everyone to start the holiday off right.

17. Don’t base your marketing strategy on Box stores. It’s easy for a multi-million-dollarcompany to take a loss on a few TVs to get people in the door but you don’t want to do that. Instead, play up what makes you different (more knowledgeable staff, excellent service, etc.).

18. Give how-to demonstrations or show people how to use your products or services in a new way such as a DIY craft or food prep.

19. Form partnerships with other merchants. This can be really effective when you offerpackages and referrals. A gym might work with a nutritionist to create a “wellness during the holidays” package or a nail salon might have a special offer with the local hair place. Even if you decide not to create a package of two business services, you can help one another through referrals.

20. Invite a costumed character to entertain the kids.

21. Give away something for free to the kids like a small snack or drink or host a craft table. It will keep them from getting fussy and give their parents more time at your business.

22. Invite a balloon artist or some other entertainment that will keep people in your store longer.

23. Set up a local celebrity sighting. If you own a bookstore, arrange for a book signing of a local author. If you own a spice shop, invite a local chef to come in and talk about using spice in holiday dishes. Make sure your local celebrity helps out with publicity by asking them to share your posts in their social media profiles.

24. See who else is celebrating. Search “Small Business Saturday” in your community to see who else is advertising their participation. In addition to the chamber, there may be other groups who can help you get the word out. Piggyback onto their celebration. When the water rises, it lifts all boats.

25. Do unto others. Just as you might look to get involved with others who are celebrating, make sure you are a good neighbor and retweet and share their Small Business Saturday posts and offerings.

Finally, a bonus tip: create something amazing that people will want to photograph themselves in front of. This can be a giant chair or a beautiful backdrop. Use your imagination. Then post a hashtag poster nearby so you’ll be sure to see what they share.

Even though Small Business Saturday is right around the corner, there’s still time to participate.Show your interest and help others find you through marketing and social media

Hello Neighbors!

The Chamber gained a new member last week: Matt Machin, with Farm Bureau Financial Services. Let’s give him a warm welcome! His office number is 785-258-3098 and you can find more contact information on the Chamber Website: tricountycofc.com.

If you are looking for events for your children this Halloween, I have been gathering them up and putting them on the Chamber Website as I come across them. If you have a Halloween event, please email me at [email protected], or call me at 785-258-2115, and I will put it on the calendar. With Halloween all wonky because of COVID-19, I feel our children deserve to have some safe, social distanced, fun, so let’s help them out!

The Angel Tree Program will be held again this year! Applications can be picked up at the Family Resource Exchange (5 S. Broadway, Herington), or the Chamber of Commerce office (106 N Broadway, Herington) and turned in at the FRE for approval. The dates to apply are November 2nd to 20th, 2020. Children from birth to senior in high school will be accepted for the program. Income limits apply. The angels will go on trees by November 23rd and can be picked up then. I will have locations of Angels as we get closer to that date. All gifts and donations will need to be returned to the Chamber of Commerce, where they will then be available at their respective local distribution areas where they can be picked up December 22nd and 23rd.

We are also planning Small Business Shopping Season and Shop Small Saturday events. We don’t have all the details yet but keep your eyes out here for more info as I get things going.

Have a wonderful week!

Concern over the holiday shopping season is one that’s looming large on most business owners’ minds.  Will it be a good one? Can it be so good that it makes up for a disappointing spring and summer? If you’re concerned about these things, you’re not alone. And there are things you can do to make your business sales this holiday season better, even if you don’t have a lot of time.

DIY Marketing Education

If you are a small business owner or employee wearing a lot of hats, you probably don’t have a marketing person. If that’s the case, there may be many things about marketing that you don’t know.

That’s okay.

These things are easy to learn because there’s a lot of free information out there. The difficulty is making the time to learn the tools and tricks and figuring out what free resources are the most credible.

The world is full of marketing gurus. Separating the good from the bad advice can be challenging. Here are a couple of good resources to help you get up and running quickly on the things you need to know about marketing:

  • The chamber of commerce. This is an excellent source of information as they not only provide webinars and learning opportunities but they’re familiar with the intricacies of your local area. Some of their sessions may even be free to non-members or, at least, very affordable. In addition to the educational components of the chamber, you may want to find out about their small business or shop local program. Chambers have large reach and you may be able to get in front of a different audience by working with them.
  • Facebook’s Season of Support. Facebook just launched a special program called Season of Support. This program is designed to help small businesses use Facebook in the most advantageous way to engage customers and drive sales. They’re offering free personalized marketing plans for businesses, tips on boosting posts, free video training (each video is less than 10 minutes, so no time excuses), promotional assistance, and a special tool kit to help drive holiday sales.
  • Google’s Holiday Hub. Google also has some tools and tips for improving holiday sales Such as Grow My Store and a Local Opportunity Finder.

Revamp Your Website Content and Social Media Postings

As an extension of your DIY marketing education, there are a few tweaks you should make now for a better holiday sales season later. Here are some specific areas where you can do that:

Revamp Your About Page

If your About Page highlights only when you started your business and how you look forward to serving your customers, it’s time to rewrite. Think of this page as a dating profile for your business (minus the awful bathroom mirror picture).

You want to include things that people will identify with but could still make you stand out of the crowd. For instance, telling your audience that you provide the “best customer service” isn’t a unique claim. If you go to your competitor’s site, they will likely claim the same thing. Instead, include what makes you special and what you’re passionate about. Speak to how you help and why you’re driven to do so. Show smiling faces of delighted customers or clients.

Tell Your Story

Most business stories will be on the About Page and that’s likely where it belongs. But your story shouldn’t begin and end there.

Your business story should be behind every post and every piece of content you create. That doesn’t mean you talk about yourself all the time. Your business story must flavor your marketing. For instance, if your story is one of helping your customers do more, then your posts should focus on that. You should highlight the amazing things your customers are achieving and post about noncustomers and ideas that are in line with your worldview and business mission.

Open an Online Store

If you sell products, this is incredibly important. These days there are many easy ways that you can sell products online. Places like Etsy, shopping cart plugins for WordPress, local marketplaces, Amazon, and many more.

Whether you want to admit it or not, there is a large consumer group out there that doesn’t enjoy walking around stores. They simply want to pull out their phones, laptops, or other devices and order from the comfort of their couch.

Amazon isn’t the giant that it is because it offers a great shopping experience. It’s not as fun as exploring the sights and smells of brick and mortar. But Amazon is a retail giant because it offers convenience and peace of mind that the buyer’s item can get to them quicker than they can find a parking space during the Christmas season. If you don’t want to open an online store, you can still showcase your items online including prices and conduct sales through messaging, email, and phone calls.

But what you absolutely must do this holiday season is allow people to see your offerings online and make it as easy as possible to buy from you. 

Are you tired of the words “new normal” yet?

If you’re like most business owners, you probably are. But whether we recognize it as a new shift in how we do business or a temporary tack we take to survive the current economic storm, the point is how you do business has to change if you want to continue to connect to your audience.


9 Ways You Should Change How You’re Marketing During and After COVID

Give up One-size-fits-all for Good
Customizing your approach to your target market has never been more important than during COVID-19. People want to hear from you and they want to feel like you understand them. But if you’re sending out a generic marketing message to everyone they’re not going to feel that.

Get Social
This is a fantastic time to increase your social media presence and begin having (more) conversations. A lot of people are struggling right now. Providing inspiration as well as commenting on their posts will make them feel good. That’s a way to make a big impression on your audience.

That doesn’t mean you need to comment hours on end. Pick a small group of people who are active on social media and engage them in conversation. Start there then expand. Good people to consider conversing with are your most loyal customers or industry influencers.

Not sure where to start? Look for local groups that you can become a part of. Be careful to follow posting guidelines and be helpful, not salesy. Provide information to people and plug other businesses (not in competition with you). They’ll likely do the same.

Focus on What You’re Doing for Safety and Convenience
It’s very important if you’re changing anything for safety or convenience that you market what you’re doing. Otherwise, your audience won’t know. If you changed how you’re doing business to make it easier for people to buy from you, communicate that as well.

Look for Kinks in the Customer Experience
Many businesses have changed how they do business. Some are doing curbside pickups or making customers wait in the car until the business is ready for them. Think about how those things have changed the customer experience and how you can alleviate any inconveniences. For instance, if you require customers to call you when they are outside your business, consider putting up a sign in the parking lot with your phone number. It sounds like just another expense but for the customer who pulls in and then has to look up your phone number, it’s very helpful. The sign is also a branding opportunity for you.

Provide Reassurance
Whether you feel it or not, spreading a good message that helps people feel reassured and cared for every time they read your content will help you stand out in the market. There is a lot of doom and gloom out there. Don’t be a part of it.

Move Your Brand Online
Just as this is the ideal time to increase your social media conversations, it’s also a great time to work on your online branding and user experience. Revamp your website, rework your content, and look for ways you can improve the online buying experience. If you don’t currently sell online, you should consider it.

Teach Online
Is there some knowledge you possess that can help your customers? It could be product or industry related or you could have a conversation on how to make a buying decision for your product or service. Hosting webinars or an e-learning class is a great way to get out in front of your audience and provide value at the same time.

Share Your Hobbies
A lot of people are feeling disconnected with COVID. Consider creating a podcast or video meeting once a month (or more frequently if it works for your audience) to discuss or teach a favorite hobby of yours. You might be surprised how many people respond to seeing a different side of you.

Your hobby needn’t be associated with your business. The point here is to create a connection. You may want to consider bringing other people who enjoy the hobby onto your “show” for added entertainment.
Some businesses have created a virtual happy hour, for instance, where they talk about how to make artisanal cocktails with a new cocktail featured each episode. You could do something like that even if you’re not in the hospitality industry. The point here is to show your passion to your audience and connect with those who share the same.

Infuse Your Communications with Empathy
Now is not the time to showcase a cold, impartial corporate image. Instead, look for ways you can show empathy to your clients or customers and share your humanity. Consumers want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Empathy helps with all of those.

Some businesses have changed the types of things they sell or services they offer. Maybe your business is doing fine during COVID. Whether you’ve been wildly successful, or you had to pivot your offerings, changing your marketing to reflect the changes in business is essential and will make you much more successful in the future.

While none of us wanted a disruption like this one, ultimately the changes that are occurring could have benefits. They may end up helping businesses apply better focus on the needs of their customers, increasing loyalty, and creating a win for businesses, employees, and customers.

Six months into the COVID and we’re all still trying to figure out what’s going on. Should masks be required? Will kids be going back to school? Do we need goggles?

But what we do know is that a lot of customers are still concerned about their health and the health of those around them. Because of that, there are several things you should be doing (and marketing) in your business.

First, it’s not only important to change business processes to help ease customers’ worries over safety but it’s equally important to make sure that you tell customers and market what you’re doing. You’re changing how you do business. Make sure your customers know what you’re doing.

Offer Cashless Checkouts
This goes beyond encouraging usage of cards. Cashless, contactless checkouts that use apps like digital wallet programs instead of providing a card mean less exchange between your employees and the customer. While not every one of your customers will feel comfortable or use this technology, for those who do, they will appreciate the opportunity.

Auto-open Doors
These days people don’t want to touch a doorknob. Ideally, you would install auto-open doors, but this is not always feasible. You can also install foot openers or swinging doors for a less expensive solution. At the very least, change out the doorknobs so that people can work them with an elbow, not need to turn a knob. Customers do not feel comfortable touching/turning surfaces right now. Make it easier on them.

Make Room
Social distancing/maintaining 6-foot distance is important to customer safety and well-being but you should also look at ways to work on flow and congestion in your place of business. Few people recognize the one-way aisles you’ve stickered the floor with. Instead, look at your cash register/payment area. If your register is at the end of an aisle, look at how you might put it in an area that would be more convenient and make it less congested. Watch traffic patterns and notice where things naturally crowd up. Make arrangements to adjust the flow.

Also, if you have an item that most people are interested, a big seller or the reason a lot of your customers come in, place it in an easy-to-access spot. In times of no-COVID, you’d likely want them to walk through your business to get it but not now. Make it as easy as possible to get the item quickly.
If you decide signs would help direct traffic flow, make them humorous. In most businesses, there’s a lot going on, including a lot of visual stimulation. Regular signs will blend in and people won’t take notice of them. Don’t believe that? Go to Walmart. That place is peppered with signs that no one reads.

Maintain Great Customer Service
If you have the staff, consider creating points of less contact and offer to get things for people visiting your business. It may mean less impulse buying by your customers, but it will make them feel more secure.

Show Them the Wipes
Don’t make any customers wonder if you’re wiping everything down. Make sure you are. Let them see you doing it. While you needn’t follow them around and wipe every surface the minute they walk by, do let them see you wiping down display areas, doors, and other often-touched spots and products.

Don’t Put It Back Directly
When someone takes something from the shelf and changes their mind before purchasing it, have a very visible wipe down pile that will be sanitized before being returned to a public spot. If your business uses kiosks or touch screens accessible to the public, consider placing a staff member there to operate them for the customer. Doing so will ensure fewer touches on your equipment.

COVID precautions are a fluid subject these days. This is a good start to make your customers feel safer and more secure in doing business with you now. But make sure you inform potential customers of all the extra things you’re doing so they can appreciate your efforts. They will do business with you and they’ll tell their friends and family as well.