Use the tools you already have: Why business survival doesn’t have to be costly


Rio Afero (far left) and the PawsEco family.

The current climate is incredibly difficult for businesses to navigate. Not only have entire industries and business models been turned upside down, but even the simple act of planning ahead is almost impossible. 

But it’s time we changed the doom and gloom narrative. It’s essential that business owners avoid getting overwhelmed with the current state of affairs, and focus on those things they can still control.

In the midst of a pandemic, it’s easy to feel like everything’s lost, but that’s simply not true.

Thankfully, business is still business, and you’d be surprised at how many tools you already have at your disposal.

Here are some actionable steps you can take right now, using the tools and partnerships you’ve most likely already built. 

When trading is down, upsell 

Upselling can be a daunting task for anyone not well practised in the art of selling, especially when it’s all too clear that customers are strapped for cash right now.

But don’t think of upselling as ‘getting one over’ on your customers. Instead, think about it as adding value to their lives. 

Upselling isn’t about purchasing the latest, flashy products, it’s about encouraging customers to see the value in the stock you already have.

It may be hard to convince a customer to purchase a more expensive product, but you may be able to sell something in conjunction with it. 

For example, your customer’s favourite pet shampoo also comes with a conditioner, which has the added value of long-lasting fragrance. Here you are adding value to that customer, and offering them a better solution to the main problem: a smelly pet!

Make it personal 

A sense of community is a massive asset to any business, and now is the time to start growing what you already have.

Social distancing, masks and isolation are making people hungry for social connection and craving interaction more than ever before. Finding ways to amp up those personal touches and customer care will really go the distance. 

Get to know your existing customers better. Send a personal note, pick up the phone and call them, or send out a thoughtful note to a targeted section of your email database.

Customers have specific needs, and it’s a business’ job to identify those needs and provide valuable, timely, helpful information when they need it the most. Anticipate the challenges they might have, and offer timely, relevant solutions to their concerns.

If they can’t get to you in person, offer delivery. If they’re struggling to pay their regular amount, why not offer them a discount?

These actions will pay off tenfold in the long run, and provide your business with loyal, dependable customers for years to come. 

Once a business becomes a trusted source of information on a particular topic, they, in turn, become a vital part of the wider customer community. You most likely already have these connections within your local area or area of expertise, and now is the time to utilise them. 

Businesses who do this well are able to turn a transactional relationship into one of a trusted advisor. In doing so, they naturally build a community of loyal customers who are constantly telling their friends, family and anyone who will listen about how much your business helped them. 

Call for back-up 

The more small businesses club together, the stronger the outcome will be. You probably have a list of businesses you enjoy working with, so why not reach out and reconnect? 

Strengthen your position in the community by connecting with neighbouring businesses, inside and outside of your industry. They may be suffering a business problem that you can help with, such as footfall or stock shortages — and you might be in a good position to help. This is a great way to show a genuine interest in their needs, and not just their wallet. 

Become a problem-solver 

A positive mental attitude goes a long way. While it may seem that there is a lot of doom and gloom in the current environment, we are also seeing some amazing innovation and change as a result of recent events. 

Understand that a positive mindset is an invaluable asset to your business, and it’s one that is possible to cultivate without spending a single dollar. 

Organise what you have

It might feel like the entire world is in chaos, but the best way to combat that is by cultivating order within your own business. Ensure your back of house admin is as streamlined and as time-efficient as possible. 

In my own business, PawsEco, we realised that traditional pet store businesses needed better order in their digital lives. We’ve found that even implementing a simple booking system and CRM can shave days of admin time from a business’s schedule.  

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we need to be prepared for anything. Future-proofing your business is a tall order when you never know what might be around the corner, but revamping the tools, relationships and customer loyalty that’s already sitting dormant in your business doesn’t cost the earth. 

Reinvesting time into your existing assets is the key to becoming a shining beacon for your clients and customers. Change direction and position yourself as the problem solver, no matter how tall the order. 

NOW READ: Can SMEs really win government contracts? Your chances are actually better in a post-COVID-19 world

NOW READ: What small business owners need to know about the coming recession


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