Most brick-and-mortar businesses can only operate and generate revenue if their doors are open. Customers must travel to the business and come inside to make a purchase. But this model isn’t great when unforeseen circumstances require a business to shut its doors and prevent customers from coming inside. We are seeing this right now with the COVID-19 outbreak.
To prevent the spread of a highly contagious disease, many brick-and-mortar businesses have either chosen to or had to shut their doors. This situation could happen to businesses at other times as well.
Extreme weather, staff shortages, or even issues with your building such as a down AC unit or broken pipe can cause your business to close its doors. But closing your doors doesn’t always mean turning off your revenue streams.
Ways to generate revenue if your business doors are shut
Here are a few ways your brick-and-mortar business can continue to generate revenue even if your business doors are shut.
Presale products and services.
Sell gift cards (with a deal).
Offer curbside pickup.
Offer local delivery.
Take your services online.
Create digital products.
Host a live online fundraiser event.
Engage your customers so they are ready to come back when your doors open.
1. Presale products and services
If customers can’t come in to buy right now, encourage them to purchase something in advance.
Run a presale event for your products or services.
Promote new offerings, or run a discount deal on existing products. For example, a hair salon could encourage customers to prepay for their next hair appointment by giving them a free product when they schedule in advance.
2. Sell gift cards (with a deal)
Another way to get customers to pay now for something they can get in the future is by selling gift certificates.
Give customers a simple way to purchase gift cards on your app or website, and drive sales by adding a deal to the offer.
For example, a restaurant could offer a deal such as buy a $50 gift card and get a $10 gift card for free. If you run this offer, note in the terms that only one gift card can be used per visit to encourage a second visit. This strategy brings in revenue while giving customers a reason to visit your restaurant a second time.
3. Offer curbside pick-up
If customers can’t come into your business, meet them outside. Offer curbside delivery so customers don’t need to leave the safety of their vehicles.
Allow customers to call in or place online orders. When they order, ask for their vehicle information (color, model and plate number) and what time they will arrive so you can associate their vehicle with their order.
4. Offer local delivery
If your business doesn’t typically offer delivery, now is the time to start. If you don’t have the resources for delivery, join a food delivery service like Grubhub or Uber Eats, which can deliver for you (and also help promote your food options to customers).
And remember, delivery doesn’t have to be just for the food industry. For example, a bookstore can allow customers to call in orders and then deliver books right to their doorsteps.
5. Take your services online
If your business primarily sells services, see how you can offer the same value through virtual experiences.
Use one-on-one video conferencing tools or group livestream services to gather multiple customers for a paid service. For example, a therapist can conduct one-on-one sessions through HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, or a health and wellness business can hold an online yoga class.
6. Create digital products
Another way to generate revenue while your business doors are shut is by using the downtime to create a digital product that you can sell online.
Creating a digital product like a course, eBook or workshop is a smart idea because it can generate revenue as soon as you finish it, as well as in the future.
For example, a fine dining restaurant could have the chef create a workshop on knife skills, or a gym could put together a multiweek online fitness program.
7. Host a live online fundraiser event
Your community and brand fans might be looking for a way to support your business during a difficult time. Give them the option by hosting a live online fundraiser. Share the circumstances that forced you to close your doors and what you are raising money for.
To increase the likelihood of people donating, give away something for free to show your good faith. For example, a bar forced to close its doors could host an online mixologist demo on Facebook Live and invite viewers to donate “tips” to the bartenders.
8. Engage your customers so they are ready to come back when your doors open
If the doors to your business are shut because of extenuating circumstances that will eventually be resolved, start planning now for re-opening your doors.
Don’t fall out of the mind of your customers.
When the doors to your brick-and-mortar business suddenly close, it can be a scary and unnerving time. Hopefully, with these tips, you’ve found ways to spark customer engagement and generate revenue during a difficult time.
Keep in touch with them via email marketing and social media. Share updates on your situation and what your business is doing to cope. And get promotions ready to release right when your doors open again.