We will defeat COVID-19. Humanity will prevail, countries will reopen, and business will thrive again. No matter how long it takes for the world to return to a sense of normalcy, the coronavirus will go down in history as an intense but relatively short-term issue. Knowing this, business owners must continue to focus on the long-term relationships that matter.
The current economic impacts are more immediate—and, as we can all attest, more shocking—than those of a typical downturn. There are many companies out there being applauded for protecting their employees, and many being called out for neglecting to do so. Laying off employees, furloughing them, or asking them to take pay cuts should be absolute last resorts, only if and when you have no other choice.
Remember that your employees have been helping your business succeed for years, if not decades. Business owners of high character put themselves on the financial front lines. It is going to hurt, and it could realistically reach a point where you have painful decisions to make. Hold strong and seek viable alternatives, with perpetual optimism and belief in your ability to get through anything.
The business-to-business landscape is leveled. Every business is struggling with disruptions, and many also with finances. Communicate with your customers to make sure any work you are doing accounts for the unique circumstances at hand. Accept payment plans and deferrals. Be generous with your pricing. Ask customers how you can help them through these challenging times. If you are selling to consumers, use your marketing communications to show gratitude and spotlight any special measures you are taking to contribute to the greater good.
Vendors and Suppliers
In the same way you are protecting your employees financially, you can also make a difference by supporting your suppliers and continuing to pay them. Behind every company is a fellow owner clinging to any business that he or she can continue to fulfill in order to support his or her own family, employees, customers, suppliers, and so on. We are all interlinked in the fight to keep our businesses afloat.
For all of the uncertainty that lies ahead, you can take solace in the fact that relationships are being measured right now. You are in control of those relationships. You can commit to not only keeping them intact, but also strengthening and deepening them.
Relationship building in a global crisis extends beyond business into personal support, compassion, and human connection. Every conversation should start or end with, “How are you doing?”
Take care of the people in your circle. They will thank you now and reward you with loyalty later.