RAPID RESPONSE: Get online, get social and get customers
Published on 26 March 2020
In such unprecedented times, the business community needs to respond rapidly and use technology effectively to move most of what we do, to online and virtual worlds.
With more temporary closures and isolation measures coming into force, many businesses including the hospitality industry have been severely impacted. However, completely closing the doors to your business does not have to be the case…
Recently, one of our SmartHub team members went to buy home-delivered breakfast on the weekend to support a local business, only to find the process of ordering breakfast and having it delivered quite challenging.
Despite the times, people still want and expect to have a good experience with your business. Not only should the food be good, the ordering and the payment experience should be positive and pain free. If this food business had been online, our team member would have had a much easier experience in doing business with that café and more inclined to do the same next Sunday.
So, how can businesses set up the right technology to ensure ordering from your business remotely is a good experience for your customers? Daniel Johnsen takes us step-by-step through the process of what technology to use and how to integrate and adopt this in your business.
RESPONDING RAPIDLY TO CHANGE
"Being present online and letting us know that you're open for business are the two critical things that if you don't get done in the next week, I would be very concerned for your business," – Daniel Johnsen
According to Daniel, businesses have a great opportunity in being forced to go online due to self-isolation and containment measures enacted for Coronavirus.
He says while this has probably been on many business' to-do list already, now is the time to make this a reality…and it's never been easier, faster or cheaper to take your business online.
"Your choice is to sit there and say, "I hope this thing blows over," or you can say, "I'm not going to let this impact my business as much.
"The biggest thing I would encourage to all business owners is make it super simple for us as customers to give you our money," he advises.
Daniel warns businesses who make it difficult for customers to find their business phone number or to find them online and on social media, are doing themselves a disservice.
He recommends posting two, three, four times on Facebook, daily.
"Let people know you're open, you're doing takeaway or deliveries, or maybe you're taking a bunch of items to a specific neighbourhood. You will be shocked by how many people will prepay and this will occur even more frequently, as people get sick of cooking at home," Daniel suggests.
Daniel's advice to businesses is to keep communicating and not to pull the plug on your marketing efforts.
"You may scale down some of your marketing budget, but if you don't let us know you're in business, we're going to go to the next person who's active and the last person we saw on social media," he cautions.
For businesses without an online presence, Daniel advises there is a wealth of platforms that can quickly and cost-effectively get your business online, with an order and payment function.
Some of the tried and tested options include:
With many businesses using iPads, Square is a quick system that can take your existing platform and allow you to sell online. The only cost incurred will be the existing credit card transaction fees you're already incurring. Square is easy and simple to go, especially if you are already using it.
Squarespace makes beautiful websites and allows you to quickly set up an online store.
"You can sell products and schedule appointments. You could be a service provider where people are working with you for 15 minutes every hour. If you are a therapist, a business coach, this can be done through this.
"All you have to do is decide on which beautiful example of a website you may want…Squarespace makes it simple with their templates, and they even tell you how to get started," Daniel reassures.
Want more? Watch Daniel set up a squarespace.com site here
Shopify is a well-supported, international platform that guides you through how to sell your items.
"These could be physical items where you can set the total number of inventory items, so that you don't oversell. You can do free shipping, flat rate shipping, calculated shipping, a lot of different things. This is probably the biggest growing platform and their pricing is pretty easy," Daniel says.
Save the Date: If you want to learn more about Shopify, the HubLive Thursday 9 April 2020 1pm is dedicated to the platform, with a step by step navigation on how to set up a Shopify store.
Not sure your new website is safe and secure? Daniel reassures business owners setting up their sites for the first time, standard common practise includes SSL security in the construction, to make every website secure.
"SSL stands for a secure socket layer. You don't have to know that, but what you need to know is that any time that you are browsing a website, you need the SSL function when you're adding personal information online, whether it's your credit card, or even just your email address. You want to make sure that there's that little padlock at the top.
"This means whenever the website sends your computer information, it scrambles it up into a way that only your computer and the specific website you are talking to can understand the conversation.
"If somebody tries to hack your connection, they can't look and see what you two are sending to each other.
"This is important peace of mind for customers, so that they feel secure dealing with you," he says.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Social distancing and self-isolation are opportunities for businesses to promote the products they have online.
This can be as simple as letting people know you are still in business and that you are changing the way you are doing business with them. So, it means letting your customers know that while they can't physically come to you right now, your business can still offer them a takeaway and delivery service.
Daniel says once businesses have set up their sites with the ability for customers to deal with their business online (i.e. they can order something from you and manage the payment online), businesses need to ensure they are telling their customers that you are open for business and letting them know what is for sale.
Artizan Gluten-free Bakery is a popular eatery on East Street in Rockhampton city (although you'd never know their items were gluten free…).
Owner Simone is frequently putting images of what people are ordering, what the shop is looking like and her hours of operation on social media, while also letting her customers know they are able to collect or have their order delivered.
"You can then go to a link if you want to order something and just click add to cart. She offers pick up, which lets her people know and simplifies her and her team's life," Daniel explains.
Daniel notes Simone frequently posts on social media to keep herself top of mind, such as letting people know they have both bread and packet mix in stock, a photo of their opening times and letting people know they're open for takeaways and deliveries.
According to Daniel, the average person has to see something 15-20 times before they connect with it.
"If you haven't connected or told your customers that you're still in business, you're still taking orders, you're doing takeaway, you're literally just letting this unfortunate worldwide event take advantage of you," he admits.
Elize agrees, explaining while people are spending a lot more time on social media right now (they don't have anything else to do), businesses need to post multiple times to ensure customer reach.
"The husband in the house may see it, but the wife may not. Five days later, the wife does, but the husband doesn't. The way Facebook and these socials will work is that they only show it to a smaller group of people until it gets engaged with people liking and commenting on it.
"Just because you post three times a day does not mean that everybody's going to see that same post each time," Daniel says.
Business owners worried there is too much content to post about and conscious of stopping every 20 minutes for social media should take advantage of Facebook's free scheduling feature.
Daniel recommends businesses dedicate 30 minutes to an hour each week to lining up posts and scheduling these across the day and week.
"Just because you're posting online, doesn't mean you're physically connected to that online account at that time. Let the internet do its amazing thing behind the scenes, while you're fulfilling orders," he explains.
His message to businesses is post on your social media pages, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, depending on where your customers are. Post on those pages frequently, several times a day, five times a day.
"Have a reason to connect with customers on social or email. I would have a daily special which gives you permission to contact people and to engage with them "Hey, today's pizza special is the ‘all veggie’. Tuesday's special is Taco Tuesday. Wednesday is Wine-down Wednesday, where we include a $5 bottle of wine with whatever order it is.
"If I know every day at 10 o'clock in the morning for one hour, you only take orders that can be delivered by dinner … what a beautiful thing. If you knew by 11 o'clock, you have 50 orders to deliver, that lets you plan out the ordering. You already have the people's money and you know exactly how much food to cook," Daniel exclaims.
While it is becoming easy for even the most technologically challenged business owner to set up their own site and manage their online presence, things can still go awry.
Daniel says for those who like solving technical problems themselves, Google will be their best friend. The majority of online store tools and platforms have their own help documents and support emails to assist.
Given the urgency for businesses to act now, Daniel urges businesses to also consider outsourcing this.
"If someone offered to charge me $250 to quickly turn my website around and add an order and payment function as well as take care of all the behind the scenes stuff in a matter of days, and all I'd have to do is give them my menu, pricing, and some product photos … I would happily pay $250 for that," Daniel concedes.
SmartHub Insider tip:
Get CQ Online is dedicated to helping local CQ businesses leverage people, processes and technology to save thousands of dollars while improving your business. They can build a complete Shopify Store for your business for just $299. https://www.getcqonline.com/
GET RID OF WHAT YOU DON'T DO WELL
Most acknowledge this is not going to blow over the next week or two. According to Daniel, this is an opportunity to fundamentally change and make our businesses better.
"The current crisis gives us permission to get rid of the stuff that isn't making us money and could be costing us more money to operate, than it is bringing us in revenue or profit.
"Your goal right now is to make it super simple for people to engage you and give you money. You also need to exist in business for at least one more day than your competitor.
"Other businesses and competitors will start closing their doors. You only have to stay open one more day, and the customers they once enjoyed, will now be coming to you.
"Then stay open a week longer … more businesses will drop out because it's just too hard for them to do it and they won't spend the $99-$200 to get online. Outlast them by one day, and you'll be happily surprised with the wealth you'll be able to earn," Daniel counsels.
- Create a website – add an online store so people can order and pay online
- Be active on social media – have a regular presence on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
If you have a younger demographic, use TikTok and Snapchat. Post three, four, five times a day;
post photos of you, the food, or just simple messages. Make it apparent you're open for business and make it easy for people to reach you.
- List and post your telephone number, or the ordering link – make it easy for people to order, buy and do business with you
Finally, Daniel believes this is a magical time; anticipating we are going to see amazing entrepreneurs come out of this crisis.
"There are people online selling face masks that they're making with their sewing machines at home. A month ago, they wouldn't have even thought of that as an enterprise," he says.
Our challenge as business owners is to be more creative, to be more resourceful and to spot the opportunities. All while continuing to service our customers by making it really simple for them to find, connect, order and pay us online, until our doors can physically re-open.
The SmartHub encourages entrepreneurs and business owners to adopt technology and modern based business practice to make the entire business journey more profitable, more enjoyable, more effective and more efficient.
Being part of the SmartHub gives local business owners opportunities to meet with and learn from mentors, to help them learn the discipline required to succeed in business.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming part of the SmartHub, contact us via the following channels:
Phone: 07 4936 8444