Five steps to secure your business against a local lockdown

It’s becoming clear that the reopening of the economy is not going to be a linear journey. With local lockdowns already announced, how can you ensure that your business would survive renewed restrictions?

The economy is gradually reopening, but it’s clear that it’s not full steam ahead. With local and partial lockdowns already imposed in the Midlands and the North, we need to make sure our businesses are ready for a two-steps-forward, one-step-back, approach to restriction easing. To survive the ongoing impact of coronavirus, it’s essential to ensure that your business is in a position to survive a local lockdown. Our guide will help you prepare for the worst.

It’s becoming evident that local lockdowns are going to become the norm. At the time of writing, Aberdeen has joined the list of areas under tighter restrictions, as fears of a new outbreak have intensified in the city. There are other such restrictions within the North of England, as the rate of infection started to rise there as well.  

Although these new lockdowns are not as strict as the UK-wide restrictions in March, the rules will still have implications for local businesses, as more people stay inside, socialise less and avoid areas such as shopping centres.

What these restrictions in the north of the country suggest is that it is highly likely that there will be bumps in the road to recovery, and with the furlough scheme ending in October, government help is drying up and business owners will be standing on their own two feet during future lockdowns. So here are our tips for ensuring your business would survive if areas in Kent and Sussex were put into another lockdown.

Tip 1: Be able to change your work practices at short notice

If the recent local lockdowns have highlighted anything, it’s that they can be announced with little to no warning. This means that you will want to be sure that your business is well equipped for dealing with change. For most of us, a local lockdown would mean working from home; in that case, you will need to make sure your team would have access to their laptops, monitors and any other equipment that is essential in the running of your business. The best idea is to put a clear plan in place for your business, because you won’t want to waste time trying to adapt to the changing regulations.

Tip 2: Secure your supply chain

The start of the global pandemic highlighted the problem with relying upon an international supply chain in business. The situation came to a head when PPE was in short supply as the UK relied too heavily upon Indian exports, and parts from China were inaccessible as they were trapped in the epicentre of the pandemic.

As a business owner, you can protect your business by sourcing alternative suppliers and different shipping routes. If it’s feasible for your company, you can best protect yourself by utilising multiple suppliers and routes, instead of relying upon one company for the goods that you need; this will mean that if any country ends up in the heart of a second wave, you will still be able to get your essential supplies. The same goes if you rely only upon UK companies; the sporadic nature of local lockdowns will mean it’s best to start creating relationships with a multitude of UK suppliers.

Tip 3: Continue your e-commerce presence

This is a biggie! During the lockdown, the e-commerce revolution sped up, acting as a catalyst to the trend that had already begun as more and more of us conducted our shopping online.

These habits are here to stay. Many customers are still deterred from returning to the high street due to fears of contracting the virus; some are deterred by the restrictions in shops, such as time consuming one-way systems; while others prefer the ease and practicality of online shopping. It’s clear that e-commerce is going to become an even greater part of our lives, and will be particularly crucial for both businesses and their customers during local lockdowns; to ensure that your business remains relevant, you will want to ensure that the e-commerce aspect of your business is watertight.

Give your clients the option to ‘click-and-collect’, invest in an updated website, advance your online customer service (for example, supporting customers through an online chat facility). These will all pay dividends for your company in the long run, and it will mean that should a local lockdown become a reality, your business will be ready.

Tip 4: Diversify your income streams

Making sure that your customers can buy from you in different ways – such as through e-commerce – is one way to diversify; there are many other different avenues that you can take to ensure that all your eggs are not in the same basket.

During the height of the lockdown, there were lots of examples of companies diversifying as the industry they were in became paralysed during the restrictions. One example that we at Eonic love is the food wholesalers in London who had no-one to supply food for as the hospitality industry ground to a halt. Instead, they switched their target clients, offering general home deliveries when most supermarkets were only able to offer them to vulnerable people.

Providing different goods or services, adapting your ideal client avatar or promoting the e-commerce element of your business will all help protect it should another lockdown be announced.

Tip 5: Strengthen your digital marketing

Digital marketing is the most important self-promotion that your company can undertake, and its importance is even more paramount during a lockdown. With people trapped indoors, they invariably end up spending a lot more time on digital and social media platforms.

To help your company capitalise from an increase in social media usage, start strengthening your digital marketing presence now, building up your engagement, following and interaction with your clients.

It’s also worthwhile considering which social media platforms your company should be using, for example, during the pandemic, the (relatively) new social media platform TikTok skyrocketed in popularity. Could your company benefit from getting on TikTok? Getting to grips with what messaging your brand wants to put forward and on which channels will best ensure your company’s survival through these uncertain times.

Local lockdowns are going to be a big part of preventing a nationwide second wave of coronavirus. Implementing the right strategies now will help your business get through a local lockdown and perhaps even come out stronger.

The web team at Tunbridge Wells-based Eonic are here to help with marketing strategies –  so get in touch for support and advise.

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