Can We Please Get Back to Business?

These days, I really wish I owned a manufacturing plant that made acrylic sheeting. Everywhere we go, we are starting to see clear face shields, cashier partitions, and protective dividers. Soon, it seems, we’ll be living in a world that resembles a giant clear maze of acrylic.

Our daily conversations now include words like ‘Socially Responsible,’ ‘Distancing,’ ‘Sanitizing’ and ‘Essential.’ We aren’t having many casual conversations with others and stores and businesses that are actually open are adorned with blue tape lines on the floor showing us where we have to stand.

So, what do we need to do as business owners to get back to it? My suggestion is to start by having an honest conversation with each of your employees. Make it clear that you are open, but will need to adapt to new ways of doing business. How comfortable are they with going back to work, and what precautions would they like to see the business take for their safety and the safety of the customers? Some are more sensitive to the current situation than others. It is important to find out if they have genuine concerns due to family members who may be at a greater risk due to illness or other factors that compromise their immune system.

Make adjustments to your showroom, offices and other areas where customers and employees meet. (Yes, that includes the acrylic, masks, and tape on the floor). It will be important for many of your customers to clearly be able to see that you have made accommodations with regards to their safety. The more comfortable you make them, the more business you are going to do.

Promote! Promote! Promote! This is NOT the time to pull back on all of your marketing. Even if times are a little tough, it is crucial that you stay top-of-mind with your target audience. Hit your social media channels hard with images of current projects, finished customer vehicles and the most popular products you sell. Sometimes people just need to know that others are out there getting work done to their vehicles in order to justify giving you a call.

Pick up the phone. Instead of relying entirely on emails, make a personal phone call to key customers and vendors. Let them know you are open and ask if they will help spread the word. Many of us are encouraged by the businesses who are making an effort to get back to normal and are happy to share the news.

I honestly believe the key to successfully getting back to some resemblance of normal is to get busy and set the example. Spend time brainstorming with your team and be open to new strategies. The future schedules for car shows, cruises, trade shows and other live events are still very uncertain and we will need to be very creative in staying in front of our customers. The good news: custom vehicles have always offered an escape for many of us, and that will never change.

Jhan R. Dolphin

Jhan R. Dolphin is president of J Robert Marketing, a full-service agency specializing in unique and innovative marketing programs for the automotive, outdoor/adventure, and sports & fitness industries. He regularly speaks to industry groups about business related topics. He can be reached at dolphin@jrobertmarketing.com

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