This is an unbelievably tough time for retailers, particularly for brick-and-mortar stores in a nonessential business that must close for at least a month. Grocery stores, drugstores, and online retailers might even thrive in this environment. But if you have a shoe store, a restaurant, a clothing boutique, there is just no other way to put it: this is bad.
But there are always some things you can do to lessen the pain. Always.
Here is a suggested checklist for some the things you can do that will help you through.
- First is always people. If you have employees, partners, or associates you work with, communicate the situation honestly. If there is any way you can help them get through this financially—if not by paying their full salaries, then at least partial salaries or whatever you can do—you will be rewarded with intense loyalty later when they are needed back. Plus it’s the right thing to do to the extent you are able.
- Reduce expenses immediately. If you have monthly rent to pay, work with the landlord and negotiate a break. Right now. Also, speak with your suppliers. They must hold shipments and give you more time to pay current invoices. Most will certainly be happier to delay and receive reduced payments to to have nothing at all.
- Manage the turn. If you’ve got inventory that will not carry forward into summer, say anything winter-related like boots or sweaters, you could pack them away for next year—that’s not always the best option, but these are extraordinary times. Or try negotiating to return all or part to the supplier. Reducing the price alone will not work if the doors are closed. But you could plan to reopen with a major sale event to entice your customers back when this is over.
- Protect your downside. Hopefully, prior to this you had some measures in place to do so. Certainly good, constructive partnerships with property owners and suppliers as well as customers will pay off big now.
Everyone you have relationships with has a vested interest in seeing you succeed and continue in business. Now is the time to mobilize the support that is needed. It’s easy to do well when business is naturally good overall. Be ready to work through this downturn, even preparing for the next one.
The good news—if it’s possible to see good news in this disaster—is that when we are on the other side of it, there will be pent-up demand for both goods and services. Sales volume will spike. And, sadly, there will also be fewer retailers left standing to participate in the recovery.
If you are interested to learning more, please get a copy of The Five Laws of Retail: How the Most Successful Businesses Have Mastered Them and How You Should Too.