Author: Cassie Gasaway
The new coronavirus, called COVID-19, is causing concern across the United States and people are distancing themselves from others. It’s all over the news, so we’ll spare you the “wash your hands, clean your business, and avoid hugs and handshakes” lecture. Instead, we’ll share nine things you can work on to stay productive, regardless of whether your business remains open or was mandated to close by your state’s government.
1. Focus on Safety
Your number one priority should be the safety of your customers and team members, as well as yourself. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If your business remains open, consider the health and livelihood of “your people” in your decision-making process. If you’re unsure of what steps to take to mitigate risk, protect employees and support customers, these resources can help.
– The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employees” webpage with lots of helpful information. Click here to read the guidelines.
– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce compiled a “Coronavirus Response Toolkit” with CDC-recommended tips and action items. It also encourages small businesses to establish a remote work option (if possible), give employees flexibility, and reduce meetings and travel.
Atop the U.S. Small Business Administration website reads this message: “Health and government officials are working together to maintain the safety, security, and health of the American people. Small businesses are encouraged to do their part to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy.” Whatever you do, do something. Taking action, even if you’re not required to close, shows you care about the health and safety of your customers and employees.
2. Explore Disaster Assistance Loans
If your business is suffering, consider applying for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan through the SBA.
The SBA is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster recovery loans of up to $2 million to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus. These loans provide vital financial support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
The Agency will work closely with state Governors to issue loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President.
Share helpful videos to keep archers engaged. Photo credit: Competition Archery Media
3. Offer Creative Business Solutions (Think Delivery or Virtual Lessons and Tournaments)
If people can’t come to you to enjoy archery, bring archery to them! Consider these ideas to keep archery on your customer’s minds.
– Give Video Lessons: Group lessons are not advised and most 1:1 indoor lessons require close contact. Instead, suggest doing video lessons with your regular customers through Skype or FaceTime.
– Host a Virtual Tournament: Advertise and run a virtual tournament. Create a Facebook event page to explain tournament rules and procedures. Advertise the event and have people call in to pay. Give them a code word to write on their target. Next, have them start a Facebook live and tag your archery shop. Ask them to record their name, code word, measured shot distance, shooting round and finished target in the live. Designate an employee to watch each submitted video and verify the score. Award a prize to the winner in each category. Click here for inspiration.
– Make Deliveries or House Calls: Tell customers you’ll bring paid-for-products to their house. Offer free deliveries with a certain distance of your shop. While you’re on the road, you could coordinate 1:1 outdoor lessons with customers who have enough space to shoot on their property.
You could also conduct “porch pickups” or “drive-thru sales.” Have your customers call in their orders, pay over the phone and swing by to pick them up. Then, bring their order to the parking lot when they arrive. Likewise, allow people to drop off equipment to be serviced and call them when it’s ready to be picked up.
To keep your range open while adhering to safety best practices, only allow one person or small group on the range at a time. Or, open it for families or couples and have them reserve 1-hour timeslots to avoid contact with others.
Offer curb-side pickup or delivery to provide archers a way to continue doing business with your shop without having to step inside the store. Photo Credit: Lancaster Archery
4. Communicate with Customers
During this time of turmoil, effective communication is the best way to maintain customer relationships. Be transparent with customers. Share what’s happening through email, and on your website and social-media accounts.
Let customers know you’re following CDC cleaning guidelines or modifying your business hours. If you’re offering deliveries or virtual lessons or tournaments, you should describe those efforts to your customers, as well. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce developed a customizable flyer so small business owners can personalize key messages about what they’re doing to keep people safe. Also, read the Chamber’s article “Communicating with Customers During Corona” for more tips and ideas.
5. Market Archery and Bowhunting (and Your Shop, Services and Products)
Many people are quarantined or are self-quarantining themselves to decrease their risk of contracting the coronavirus. Therefore, most people are probably inside watching TV or scrolling through social media. Capitalize on their screen time and introduce them to archery’s many disciplines, including 3D archery, bowhunting, bowfishing, and recreational or competitive archery. Advertise anywhere you can to market these activities and show people how fun archery is.
While you’re at it, market your business, products and services. Publicize all aspects of your business within your community so people know archery opportunities exist nearby. Share your contact information, too. You want to ensure people know where you’re located, how to reach you, and how you can introduce them to archery. Read the ATA’s “How to Create a Productive Marketing Plan” for tips and strategies.
6. Create and Share Engaging Content with Customers
It’s smart to attract new potential customers through marketing techniques, but it’s also smart to engage and entertain current customers. Use this opportunity to develop business-specific content for your customers. Create content, including blogs, posts, articles, videos and podcasts, that excites customers. Make videos that overview your services or discuss new or popular products.
Also, encourage people to shoot in their backyard (if it’s safe) or at a public outdoor shooting range. Challenge people to shed hunt or turkey hunt and post their pictures on your Facebook page. You can share links to at-home archery exercises or DIY archery projects people can do from their living rooms. Here are a few favorites from Archery 360 and Bowhunting 360.
Point people toward these great online hunting shows, which are free to watch! Or, motivate them to do a fun scavenger hunt in the woods. Tell customers to look for these six items. Lastly, share venison recipes to try. Bowhunting 360 has suggestions under it’s “Wild Meat” category.
7. Ask Your Customers to Review Your Business
While customers are at home on the couch, ask them to support your business. Some people are short on cash, but they can still help your business without spending a dime. Ask them to write a review, tell their friends about you, and like or share your social posts.
8. Create a Facebook Group Page
If you have downtime, create a Facebook group for your customers and community.
According to Hootsuite, brands in 2020 should reasonably expect their Facebook posts to be seen by about 5.5 of their page’s followers because of Facebook’s algorithms. In other words, your customers likely aren’t seeing your content.
Businesses can pay to promote their posts, or they can create a business Facebook group, where everyone in the group sees 100% of your posts. Click here to learn how to step-by-step directions for how to create a Facebook group. Then, invite members to your group and start sharing content.
9. Take Advantage of the Slow Period to Catch Up or Learn Something New
Use this time to scratch tasks off your to-do list. Consider getting certified, organizing your office, rearranging your shop layout, conducting employee reviews, evaluating your business, cross-training your employees, connecting with industry peers, preparing for the 2020 Olympics, or renewing your ATA membership. You can also watch on-demand educational videos in the MyATA Learning Center. Login to your MyATA member dashboard to get started.
For other COVID-19 information as it relates to small business and your state, visit these links: