UPDATED 03/17/2020: Earlier this afternoon Gov. Sisolak ordered closed all non-essential businesses in the state of Nevada for the next 30 days. As much as it is going to hurt all of us financially, it’s probably the right thing to do. If your business is affected by coronavirus, please read on…

 
 
 

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON 03/11/2017

It’s official. WHO declared coronavirus pandemic today. For this reason, people may be staying home more than usual over the next couple of months. People might also be ordering online a little more often vs. traveling to a brick and mortar shop. Is your business prepared?

Preparedness Steps

But first, my personal opinion

I’ll come right out of the gate and express my personal belief that the virus ( SARS-CoV-2 ) that causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is already actively spreading in the U.S; has been spreading for quite some time. As of today we in the U.S. don’t know how prevalent coronavirus is because we haven’t been testing for it. Only time will tell.

Nobody really knows the human impact of COVID-19 yet, but one thing seems certain — businesses are going to take a financial hit. It is therefore more important than ever to have a strong online presence.

Is your website ready for action?

In the event of a slowdown, is your business website prepared? Is content up-to-date? Are online stock levels accurate? Are all of the latest products listed? If you keep an online calendar, can others easily set appointments? Customer contact will always remain critical and should be at the forefront of your preparedness actions. As an example of how to still accept business bookings online, I recently integrated an online booking / appointment system in a client website. So far it is working out great!

Each website is unique in how it ‘sells’ a product. On some websites the entire transaction occurs online. Other websites might only accept phone orders. Fulfillment and shipping is always a physical task. Now is the time to sit down and really think through how a potential disruption could affect any part of your business plan. Can your business website act as a viable alternative solution to any of the problems?

Either way, now is a good time to modify your website sales/fulfillment/procedures accordingly to account for any potential disruption.

Create a virtual office

I mentioned appointments earlier knowing full well that people may not be taking as many face-to-face meetings. Indeed it may be wise to limit face-to-face meetings while (if) the outbreak is unfolding. NASA Ames Research Center, Google, Apple and other large corporations have already gone the way of teleworking and so can you!

I’m not talking about a home remodel or spending thousands on the latest equipment. Most of today’s office activities can be accomplished with almost any Internet-enabled laptop computer. Have an older computer that needs an upgrade? Now is the time to upgrade or repair! Want a new computer but the cost of one is outside of your budget? Consider refurbished equipment. Pahrump locals, I recommend purchasing from Great Computer Deals. They have capable repair technicians on site and can fix certain types of computer equipment.

Can you imagine having to work from the comfort of your own couch using a cool new laptop? (Oh. The torture…)

The technology required to hold a face-to-face meeting exists — it is just that the meeting will happen in a virtual online environment. Presentations occur on your home TV or computer screen instead of being projected across the office conference room. Whiteboards exist, but in a virtual sense; tools that allow all meeting participants to interact and share ideas. It is all very real and most of it is affordable. And who knows maybe these companies will see the benefit of temporarily reducing their fee structures! (Wishful thinking, I know.)

Don’t forget to configure the physical office for virtual visitation

Programs like TeamViewer or a VPN such as Hotspot Shield (if you require PII compliance-level security) are excellent methods to securely and remotely log in to work computers. Just keep in mind, it might take a day or three of experimentation to get things working reliably.

Can your business survive a slowdown in foot traffic?

If your business has the potential to be impacted by social distancing, prepare now. Think of ways to still do business while traditional foot traffic is scarce. We won’t likely see travel restrictions in the U.S but still, this event is a good opportunity — and with great business justification — to bring your business into the 21st century online world. Hop online! Purchase a domain name and a hosting plan and start building your business website!

A business website is your most powerful online marketing tool, but it isn’t the only available option . There are many types of services that can help you to continue to operate — online meeting platforms such as WebinarJam and GoTo Meeting by LogMeIn (more choices) can allow employees to participate in one-on-one client, or even group meetings.

Advertise Local!

Again we aren’t likely to experience travel restrictions in the U.S., but just in case ….

I’ve written many blogs on the subject of local online advertising. Aptly they can all be found at my local online advertising website — https://pahrumpbiz.com

Supply Chain Interruptions

As far back as mid-January I recall standing in Walmart and overhearing an associate state very matter-of-factly ‘we are expecting supply chain problems’. Given where much of Walmart’s stock comes from his statement didn’t surprise me, but it did get me thinking … why not find a closer supplier who doesn’t have supply chain problems?

Obviously alternate suppliers aren’t an option for Walmart, but for smaller businesses who are locally integrated with each other, it is a possibility. Local business owners have the opportunity now (and again, justification) to find suppliers who may remain unaffected by supply chain slowdowns or interruptions. It may be an oversimplification but it would be difficult to break a supply chain that all exists within the same town/region.

Preparedness Resource

This Facebook report has some really good pointers, and that is why I am sharing it. At the same time I will continue stress that Facebook and Instagram are only two of the marketing tools that you have at your disposal, and not necessarily your best first choices. At a point, Facebook/Instagram is of limited value. (After years of watching Google Analytics reports, I know this for a fact but that is an altogether different topic.)

POST-Coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic is certainly an interesting situation. it will change many lives, but the human race will get through it and then find a way to permenantly kick that little critter’s RNA (because that’s all its got!) In the meantime, a pandemic is no joke. Please stay safe.

Summary

Believe the hype or don’t, a slowdown of some sort is on its way. The world can’t hiccup like this without some type of negative effect. It is wise to prepare your business ahead of the curve.

Facebook page or not, your business website is your primary marketing & advertising vehicle. You own it, now use it to your best advantage! This is always true but especially so as we head into slightly uncertain times.

Call me (Shane) if you are looking to implement a new website. If you have an interest in getting set up with some of the aforementioned software, I can help with that as well. (Although I may want to perform the work remotely & online. Not that I’m antisocial … I’m just avoiding ya’ll like the plague. /humor)

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