As a multi-location business, your focus is likely to adjust your strategies to survive now as everyone continues to endure COVID-19. At SOCi, we recognize that and empathize with most multi-location businesses who are in survival mode. There’s a new business environment that we’re experiencing now, and we’re all going to have to adjust during this time to survive now and advance later when things enter a new normal.
If your multi-location business hasn’t started changing tactics amid COVID-19, or planning for what’s next, it’s time to start. While we’re unsure how long this current situation may last, we need to consider it the new normal and adjust accordingly. Here are some tips to do that:
Position Yourself As Indispensable
Regardless of what your business sells, position yourself as indispensable to your target audience. Even if you’re considered a non-essential business, you need to communicate with your consumers why you are essential to them. For instance, if you’re a hair salon, you can sell your shampoos or hair dye kits online, or offer curbside pickup.
Check out this example of a hair salon franchise, Fantastic Sams, showcasing their online product selection.
You can also get creative if selling a product is too much of a logistical nightmare – showcase tutorials for the services they would typically receive at your brick-and-mortar location.
Check out this example of our customer, Anytime Fitness, presenting online workouts through one of their Local Facebook pages as fitness facilities remain closed.
As a multi-location business, it’s essential to think about what you can do to improve your operations and prove value, whether you’re temporarily closed or open. Give consumers a reason to choose your business over others. Through Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp, you can ensure that your online listings are updated with correct information. If your business is offering curbside or delivery, that can be specified on the platforms mentioned. Also, if your business is not already using Google Posts, now is the time to start! Through Google Posts, your business can reach prospects or people searching online, and provide them with information to highlight why your business is indispensable.
If your business locations aren’t open during this time, you can still go into your listings and ensure that everything is set up correctly, your local business information is up-to-date, and you can mark yourself as temporarily closed. This is a great time to ensure your pages are as robust as possible. Show images and videos about what your location is like and what services you offer. You can also spend time creating how-to videos and adding personal touches to your local listings while you may have some downtime now, to prepare for the digital world that is awaiting after COVID-19 fades away. Consumers are searching for information online to make purchase decisions – this is a habit that was formed before COVID-19, and this habit has only increased throughout the pandemic. By ensuring your local digital presence is robust now, you are preparing to meet consumers where they’ll be searching later.
Position Yourself As Irresistible
As a multi-location business, it’s also critical to frame your business as irresistible during this time. What localized marketing tactics do you currently have in place that can make your business seem compelling or unavoidable? Is there anything that you can put in place right now that would improve customer experiences and prove that feedback matters? If so, it’s something to consider.
If your multi-location business is still open, ratings and reviews are a big way that you can prove that consumers find you irresistible. You can monitor the reviews daily that are coming in on platforms like Yelp, GMB, and Facebook and respond to those reviews promptly.
As you begin to monitor reviews daily, you can also start engaging and asking for further feedback on your review platforms. Now is a great time to focus on building your review base. The more reviews your business has now, the more it will help your business advance later. It is also important to note that while GMB is currently allowing new reviews, it has switched back and forth with enabling this feature a few times over the past month, so be sure to check its status before you begin asking for more feedback on that review platform.
If your multi-location business is not open right now, ratings and reviews can still play a role in making your business irresistible. You can always ask customers for feedback from previous visits to your business. For instance, you could ask them to share their favorite memory at your business through a review. In addition, if you find yourself having a little more time on your hands than usual, you can go back through the last three months and respond to any reviews that haven’t already received a response.
Data from our most recent State of the Market report found that reviews are the #1-factor consumers consider before making a purchasing decision. If you want to demonstrate value and make your business irresistible, reviews are the way to do it!
Position Yourself As Influential
Finally, it’s critical to position your business as influential during this time if you want to survive through COVID-19. If your multi-location business is looking for ways to build influence, ask yourself how you can improve communication with your consumers during this time. Social media is a great way to do this, and relatively easy as well.
You’re likely asking yourself, what kind of content should I be posting on social media during this crisis? If your business is open, you should be posting on your local pages highlighting adjustments your company has made to keep both consumers and your employees safe amid COVID-19.
On the other hand, if your business has temporarily closed, you should consider posting useful information that consumers would be interested in while stuck at home. For instance, do you have any helpful tips for those trying to work from home with kids? Or do you have ideas on how to stay motivated during this challenging time?
Check out this example of our customer, Ace Hardware, who encourages consumers to take on a paint project during this time of quarantine.
Just because your business is closed, doesn’t mean that the content has to stop. Regardless of whether or not your business is open, you can also highlight ways that your business is supporting the first responders. Think of ways your business can help those that are on the front lines in hospitals or grocery stores, while so many of us are self-quarantining, and social distancing. This type of content will help your business stay influential during this time and allow consumers to continue to interact with your business, even if it’s at a distance.
Whether you’re thriving or surviving, we’re all having to make adjustments to our previous business plans. Use the tools we’ve provided to help your business stay afloat during this crisis. If you need help navigating your localized marketing plan, SOCi can help! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can provide you with the tools you need to come out of this pandemic strong and ready to bounce back.