I placed an order for some items at a local store where I am a regular customer. I could not be there in person to pick them so I requested that my items be put together after payment so my courier could pick them up. Surprisingly, the client attendant was hesitant in doing this, giving the excuse that he was busy and that the store mainly offered walk-in services. Initially I thought he was being rude but I remembered a similar experience with the store manager. It was obvious there was no structures in place to provide customer service apart from walking-in to purchase items
This had occurred after the business had been out of operation for about 3 weeks due to a lockdown enforced by the government to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Though I was able to get my courier to pick my orders from the store, I was amazed at the discussions I had to go through to get this done. That was how I started looking for a competitor to take my business to.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to how some businesses operate, most of which are not new- the tools and practices we are using now to stay afloat in business already existed, businesses were yet to adopt them as part of their operations. Though some businesses are thriving with booming sales in this period without any major changes in their operations, others have to reinvent themselves to adjust to this period, maintain and acquire new clients, and increase revenue to stay in business.
This crisis was unexpected and majority of businesses were not prepared for it, but your business should not come to a halt or even become extinct because of this, especially in today’s world of affordable modern solutions. To reinvent is to take a step in a new direction, it is delivering value in a different way from what you are used to. These are ways in which you can reinvent to remain relevant in the market in a time of global crisis.
1. Know What You Want.
What goal do you want to achieve with your business and which segment(s) of your business need change or improvement to meet that goal? Assess the state of your business and be clear on the direction you want it to go, its needs and offerings, and value on the market. Crisis periods may require adjustment in operations, for instance, a new approach to marketing and sales, change in supply chain, introduction of new products and services etc. Know what you want and build the business around the answer.
2. Rethink your Brand.
This is not for all crisis situations but if need be, especially after long years of being in operation, a complete rebrand can be considered. Examine the impact of the crisis and its associated change in business operations and customers’ lives and position your brand to deliver value now and in the future. It might require an adjustment or even a complete change in your mission and vision to meet the needs and demands of current trends which will affect future operations. The company’s color, website, and brand statement might also be changed to reflect its new vision. The rebrand should be a marketing strategy to thrive during the crisis period and a plan to meet future needs and developments.
3. Identify your Strength.
In the advent of an unexpected crisis, businesses come under pressure to do anything that works to be afloat on the market and stay in business. They consider trial and error means to stay in the competition. But no matter the circumstances, you can only deliver excellently on your strengths. Do not be in a hurry to copy everything others are doing to survive; identify your areas of strength- where the business delivers excellently and build on it. The business might be noted for its excellent customer service, quality products and services, high end technological solutions etc. These are the unique qualities you can maximize to deliver value, keep your clients, and acquire more.
Reinvention in a time of crisis will require employing new technology or measures to deliver your strength. It is also a time where hidden strengths or potentials emerge so identify your strengths and focus them.
4. Build a Team.
Reinventing is also a time of restructuring. Adopting new or improved ways for the delivery of your products and services will require qualified persons who can effectively handle and implement the change. Whose or what expertise will you need, whose advice will be valuable to the change, what skills are required for the new structure or reinvention, what qualifications are needed, how many people are needed to drive and implement the change, are there existing liabilities that need to be taken care of, and what training or knowledge would be required for the team to work effectively? These are questions you need answers to. Raise a competent team to brainstorm and successfully implement the change.
5. Find Resources you will need.
Change in a period of crisis will need resources/materials/equipment and the technology to carry it. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting to technology and digital media should is a major asset. Businesses must either acquire new technology and other resources or improve existing ones to sustain and deliver change to successfully remain in business. What technology, equipment, gadgets, infrastructure, and how much money would you need to deliver the change? Find them.
6. Synergize and Leverage on Relationships.
The goal in reinventing during crisis situations is to keep your business afloat and still make profit. This will require partnerships and synergy with businesses that can support your struggling or weak areas. If your business cannot handle deliveries because the revenue being generated cannot maintain motorcycles and pay riders, partner with trusted businesses that can handle the delivery effectively for a commission. There’s no need bearing the burden alone while the business suffers. Build relationships and have a network of reliable businesses in your industry you can partner with where needed to keep your business on the market.
7. Deliver Excellence.
It might be a crisis period but your competition is still out there- customers still have options to choose from, hence, it is never a good excuse to under deliver because there is a crisis. Customers also get affected by the crisis and look for empathy. If your business meets their need through excellent service, you get their attention and heart forever. Maintain and attract new customers with excellent service, go the extra mile, honour your word, and provide the convenience customers look up to. Crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic does not destroy everything in your business. Inherent in every problem are opportunities; critically look for them, provide solutions for them, and deliver them excellently. Give customers value for their money and they will keep coming to you.
We may not know how long this pandemic will last, hence, businesses must adopt new ways of doing business to stay in the market, not only for this season, but beyond, because customers will adjust and develop taste for the changes that occur in this period and will demand same or similar in the future. Reinvent to stay relevant.