Slowly but surely, we’re seeing businesses opening up and adapting to the “new normal” as you’ve likely heard it referred to.
Slowly but surely, we’re seeing businesses opening up and adapting to the “new normal” as you’ve likely heard it referred to. Whatever your experience as a business owner, there’s a lot of work to be done to ensure that things can operate as close to business as usual and some sense of normality can resume for you, your teams and your customers. There’s no way to sugar coat the fact that the world has been turned upside down, even for those businesses that were able to continue trading. Now, as plans progress to reduce restrictions, you must use this transition period to your advantage. How you respond now will be one of the most crucial steps for the future of your business.
If you’re an established franchisee, it’s possible your operations manual has been gathering a little dust. I’d recommend that if you haven’t revisited those systems and processes during the last 12 weeks, that now is the time to refresh your memory. Even if you have been operating your business throughout lockdown, it’s still a good idea to remind yourself of the systems and processes that make your business a successful franchise. Similarly, this is the time to get clued up on any new ways of working that have been shared and implemented thanks to your franchisor. Maybe you’ve got a new process of meeting with your clients or you will now only take contactless payments – make sure you’re aware of how these work going forward because, once your back in the driver’s seat, it won’t be quite so easy to refer back to documents during your daily operations.
Once you’re solid with operational changes, it’s time to get your sales process updated with any changes that have been born out of the pandemic. Whether you plan to start reaching out and securing clients immediately or in a few weeks, refining your process now is essential. Sales might come naturally to you or you could even consider yourself a ‘guru’ but, as they say, practice makes perfect. Run through solutions to potential objections, so when you can kick off, there’s no sales scenario you haven’t considered.
Then turn your attention to your customers. How are those who stopped using your services during the pandemic getting on? They should be your easiest wins to bring back as paying customers and ideally you will have continued to nurture the relationship but, if not, then now is the time to reach out. Be the one to make the first move. Whether you supply a service or a product, these relationships will be vital in getting things back on track.
In our case, with schools seeing a phased return and people getting back to work, Tutor Doctor franchisees will phase their conversations from free advice and support to include options to return as customers. Without adding pressure or strain to parents’ lives, they politely and sensitively nod to their services of online tuition and highlight the benefits for children. Not everyone will have a return to 100% salary and immediately pick up all pre-lockdown spending, but it’s letting them know that you’re there when they’re ready to continue.
Don’t forget about those customers who stuck with you. They have relied on your services, during both your and their most difficult of times. It’s extremely worthwhile to recognise them as a valued customer, nurturing the relationship to retain them as customers. They are your biggest advocates and retaining a client requires less resources than winning a new one.
My final suggestion is to take things slow. You might feel obliged to rush back into business at full speed but, trust me, slow and steady will win the race. Don’t run the risk of compromising quality over quantity. Take stock of your options, create a weekly plan with contingencies for a change in restrictions and be ready to be flexible with your staff, suppliers and customers.
It’s a time of transition for many franchises but with the support of your franchisor, methodical preparation and a flexible approach you can successfully build your business in the aftermath of this crisis.