Spring has officially sprung but the lifting of lockdown restrictions seems to be moving further away rather than closer. You could be forgiven for feeling a bit down. However if you look closely, as I’ve noticed on my walks recently, there are reasons for optimism. The buds are appearing on the trees, you just have to take the time to spot them. Whether you’re an optimist, pessimist or realist there are still things you can do now so that when the trading restrictions are lifted, you and your retail business are ready to go again.
Here are some things you can do while we’re in this holding pattern:
- Look after yourself.
Remember what they say in the safety announcements on flights: put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. What’s your oxygen mask when you’re stressed? Try and make it something that’s healthy and can become a daily habit. I’ve found walking a must-do every morning. I treat it as a commute, going for a walk in the park before starting work in my home office.
- Learn something new.
These could be for your retail business or your personal development. There are lots of supports and training opportunities available online and through your local enterprise office. This could be the perfect time to finally get to grips with using social media for your business. Google, MailChimp and Facebook all offer free webinars and additional supports so you can learn how to make the most of these tools for your business. Make sure your business and supply chain are Brexit Ready – downloading the Brexit Readiness Checklist is a good place to start.
- Explore new opportunities.
The way people live and shop has been completely disrupted and things will take some time to return to the way they were (if that even happens). People have been spending more on DIY, exercise equipment and food while the amount spent on fashion and hospitality has taken a hit. Could you introduce some different stock into your store that might resonate with the stay-at-home lifestyle? Or better yet, can you reposition existing stock in a way to appeal to a new market?
- Spring Clean. With the shutters down for now this is a good time to do a spring clean and declutter. Get the cobwebs out of those long-neglected corners. Consider sprucing up your retail space, inside and out, with a fresh coat of paint. Is the layout working for the new way of socially distanced shopping? Could it work even better if you rearranged things? Check with your local authority to see if there is funding available for refurbishments.
- Engage with your customers. Keep communications going with your customers, they’re almost certainly finding lockdown challenging too. Use social media to stay top of mind and include some behind the scenes stories about your spring cleaning, restock or any other developments. Whet their appetite so that when you do reopen they’re waiting outside!
- Test out a delivery service. Have you started to operate a delivery service for your business? Could you operate a limited delivery service in your local area or post goods to customers further away? There have been some great good news stories about local independent retailers operating bicycle delivery services within 5km.
- Shout about what you’re doing! If you’ve done a refurb, started to deliver locally or completely pivoted your business don’t be shy about it. Contact your local newspaper and radio station, as well as using social media. People love to hear good news, especially at the moment. Remind people in your area that you’re still active even if the “Closed” sign is on the door.
- Volunteer. Doing volunteer work has been shown to improve mental and physical health. With lots of our usual hobbies out of reach at the moment doing some volunteer work could be a great way to fill some time in a meaningful way. You can keep it simple and do it solo if you don’t want to commit to something long term. Grab a bin bag and some gloves and pick up some litter in the closest green space to where you live or join your tidy towns group. Check out Volunteer Ireland to see if there are ways you can volunteer from home. I’ve been volunteering with a mental health charity for the past few years and it’s a reminder of how much I have to be grateful for, even when I’m finding things are tough.
- Do something fun. Kitchen dance party, watching your favourite TV series again, playing with your kids or catching up with a good friend on the phone. Remember to inject some fun into your week.
- Do nothing at all. Sometimes we just need to do nothing at all for a while. Those buds on the trees wouldn’t be there if the trees hadn’t shed their leaves and gone dormant for winter. Try to do nothing for a period of each day, daydreaming out the window is good for creativity and problem solving.
Whatever you decide to do (or not to do), start small and don’t put yourself under too much pressure. Even ten minutes each day is enough to start to build momentum. Spring in all its glory and an end to lockdown are coming. Make sure that when they arrive you and your business are ready to blossom again.
If you’d like to get another perspective on your retail business book a free half hour call with me.