Your small business’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will likely determine how well your brand comes out of it on the other side. With much of the country shut down for school, travel and work, would-be consumers suddenly have lots of time on their hands. Not surprisingly, some of that time will be spent looking to see how the world around them is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business’s responses will especially stick out, given that furloughs and layoffs are feared results. But, be careful, with how you handle, share and talk about these changes, especially given how tough job losses are to stomach when the very few businesses will be in the mood to add new hires in the near future.

“Your customers are watching,” I say to business owners in my role as a small business consultant. “How you respond during these times will determine whether or not they remain your customers.”

Smart business owners are reprioritizing their customers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown.

If they see you abandoning your staff, selfishly focus on sales or continue doing business as usual, you could be losing a customer for life.

Or, if you manage this crisis properly, you could be earning a lifetime customer, as I suspect Disney has done in this instance, supplying surplus food to those in need via food banks.

I certainly feel better about the couple thousand dollars I spend a year at WDW. In fact, Disney joins a long list of companies, many of them small, doing the right thing through this pandemic. That’s welcome news during a time when much of what you hear from corporations is not very pleasant to the palate.

For example, just this week alone, I’ve learned that several of my marketing friends were temporarily (hopefully) furloughed, many more saw clients renege on their contracts and still more were laid off entirely.

Focus your small business’s response to COVID-19 on customer retention

But there are many, many rays of hope if only you look closely.

The CEO of Texas Roadhouse is giving up his base salary through Jan. 7, 2021 to pay his workers.
Several NBA players and team owners, respectively, have agreed to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars for their teams’ furloughed employees.

Additionally, many companies are footing the bill for computers and supplies that’ll enable employees to work from home indefinitely. Remember, now is the time to show your brands’ true colors, allowing prospects and customers to get an accurate picture of the company they might spend money with.

“Now is not the time to show everyone that you value their money and your employees’ time above all else,” says a friend. “This is when you show more and tell less. We’re all watching.”