Corona: to undergo or to take action?

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As many enterprises are compelled to close their doors (either partially or entirely) as a result of Covid-19 and everyone stays home, customers often don’t find the way to their familiar outlet. So what can an entrepreneur do when he sees his income reduced to almost nothing from one day to the next? He can be even more creative than usual and continue to deliver his products or services, by bike if he has to, or even virtually. The ability to think out of the box is increasingly becoming a requirement in these strange times. 

 

Although you can count on government aid to get through this difficult period, you can also be creative and take initiatives to give your business an extra boost. Below you will find some tips and tricks. 

 

Don’t immediately cancel all your marketing activities! Marketing expenses are the first cost that a lot of companies drop in times of crisis, causing many campaigns to be put on hold. This decision is understandable if it’s hard to continue delivering products or services.  On the other hand, it's important to remain active and visible for your target group in times like these. Due to the lockdown measures, people are at home and online surfing increases. So it‘s important to be and remain visible on social media. Stay in touch with your target group and inform them! One way to do that is to become a member of koopinjebuurt.be, an initiative of the Flemisch government to promote local businesses. 

 

There are quite some interesting online initiatives that support local businesses. E-commerce offers a way to avoid physical contact during necessary or normal purchases by consumers. Enable your customers to order their products electronically (via a web shop or by e-mail). Also consider elderly people who may not be familiar with the internet and provide for the possibility to order by telephone. Give your customers the possibility to pay by transfer or upon collection of the products. Take into account the fact that there are a lot of practical things to consider when starting up a web shop. “what is obligatory information?”, “how do I create a secure payment method”, “what about orders from abroad?”, “what is the applicable VAT rate?”, “do I have to take out an additional insurance/apply for an extra licence?”, “have my general terms and conditions been adjusted to online sale?”, etc. Being the sparring partner of entrepreneurs, we are always at your disposal to give you the answers you need. 

 

For instance, you may consider the possibility to cooperate with another offline shop. By working together you can increase your turnover and broaden your target group. One example is a cooperation between a convenience store and a butcher. This is also a perfect way to share the practical difficulties relating to the distribution of the products. 

 

A number of initiatives have been taken for the hospitality industry as well. The HorecaComeback campaign, for instance, allows consumers to order vouchers for their favourite bar or restaurant. Takeaway meals are also a huge success. Let your customers know that you’re working and that they can easily order meals. You can also offer special meals for children. Within this context you should pay attention to the practical consequences of offering takeaway meals, for instance with respect to VAT. 

 

Don’t be afraid to take a, initiative. Your customers are aware of the fact that it is now more important than ever to buy from local businesses and will surely appreciate your efforts. The next meeting of the National Security Council is scheduled for Friday 24 April and will provide more information about the general exit strategy of your country, with a focus on gatherings and the economy. Like you, we hope that the lockdown will soon come to an end. But for the time being: “Keep your distance, but stay in touch” !