Businesses are beginning to shake off the negative impacts of COVID and hopefully are looking at what many may consider a silver lining. This is the time to evaluate the changes you made as a business owner, both in operations and in employee management, and keep what is working and ditch old ways that may have been holding your business back.
Let’s take e-commerce as an example, particularly ordering online and picking up curbside. Many businesses may have been considering online stores, or an online order format but hadn’t pulled the trigger. Thanks to COVID, many no longer had the choice. We assisted many small businesses during the pandemic shift from an over-the-counter model to a curbside, or online order and ship model to help their business stay alive during the pandemic.
This added convenience to the consumer was a must during the pandemic as the need for no contact pickup and social distancing was necessary during the heart of the pandemic. But keep in mind this service was offered before the pandemic started. Many larger franchises were able to dedicate funding and employee support to add this very convenient service. This model was somewhat easy for the restaurant industry to implement, but it didn’t take long for many retail businesses to follow suit.
It is commonplace at this point to see curbside pick-up spots in the front of many businesses. Not only has curbside reduced the burden on the cash register and cut down on the line, but the key is that it has provided customers with additional options adding to the customer service goals of many business owners. Curbside pickup creates the illusion that they have avoided the line, they pull right up to a spot, and they don’t have to wait.
Many feel this convenience is going to stick around. According to the study “The State of What Feeds Us” conducted by SeeLevel HX and Bluedot a full 50% of consumers are using curbside more often or much more often than they were before the outbreak. For the business owner, you have already invested the time, effort, and funds to implement this new service. It has proven to be an added convenience to your customers, so why not keep it. The argument here is that it may be an additional burden on your employees or may require you to retain more employees to provide this additional service as we move back into our regular shopping habits as we did prior to COVID. As the business owner, I encourage you to take a look at your financials to help determine if these new services are adding to the bottom line. A quick analysis of your sales will help you determine if this service is here to stay. If you would like, visit with an advisor at the Small Business Development Center to help you conduct a financial analysis and brainstorm on process improvement to help you manage your business efficiently and continue services that are beneficial to both the business and the customer.
“Business Tips” was written by Dezaray Johnson, Certified Training Professional, of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact her at Dezaray.Johnson@angelo.edu.