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Building Entrepreneurial Communities

Be ready when your doors reopen

During the past several weeks, families and businesses around the country have endured tragic loss of human life, modified their way of life, and lost vital economic resources. Many of us stay at home “doing our part” not to risk exposure and illness that might further burden our hospitals, as others work to save lives and provide needed food and products.

As business owners plan for reopening, successful businesses will consider ways to bring customers back through their doors. Consider the range of customers: those with immune deficiencies who might be afraid to leave home, those who think there is no danger in getting out, and those who choose to clean extensively, wear masks, and check their temperature regularly. Each may need a unique message to regain their business.

How have you kept in contact with customers?

  • Have you called or emailed your customers?
  • Have you provided them a way to connect with you and encouraged that contact?
  • Have you started new policies to open up your business?
  • Are your policies clearly detailed so all customers feel safe and welcomed?

Many customers are looking for businesses who not only have extensive cleaning protocols, but have minimized potential health hazards, such as contact with products, exchange of currency, and entry points in and out of the store. Customers value stores where staff are adequately trained and clearly communicate how customers will be safe.

Your business has to outperform the expectations of all your customers. As you think about resuming operations, ask your customers:

  • Are there products and services our business could help you with during this time?
  • What is the best method to get those products and services to you?
  • What actions should we take to exceed your expectations while shopping at our store?

Your business may only get one chance to make a first impression with customers.

Jennifer Russell is a University of Illinois Extension educator in Community and Economic Development, serving communities in west central Illinois. Russell is a graduate of both University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Russell has worked with businesses, non-profits, and government for over 20 years.