by Norman Froscher
There’s no doubt that 2020 has thrown the entire world a major curveball. COVID-19 has impacted us all in varying degrees, some of which are still being discovered even as we are halfway through the year.
The last few months have had an impact on all small businesses; many may not recover. I’ve had many conversations with store owners across the country. Some have closed for a short time; some have modified their hours. Some have seen an increase in not only customers but sales, while some have seen precipitous drops in traffic and sales.
Pack and ship stores were—and are—considered essential businesses in the transportation and logistics infrastructure. Regardless of your store’s particular situation, the “new normal” dictates that we have to be ready for tumultuous changes. (I actually hate that term because, as store owners, we must be willing to accept that the landscape of our business can and does change rapidly.)
The question we have to ask ourselves when looking at our business is how we “pivot” in order to best maximize our revenue streams. Whether your sales are up, down, or about the same, this should be an ongoing evaluation … but it is decidedly more important now. Let’s take a look at some ways we may be able pivot to stay relevant as an essential business.
With many businesses closing or having employees working from home, many of our stores that do considerable print businesses may have been impacted. Yet, there are still opportunities for us in the print market. Restaurants have adopted disposable paper menus. We have offered multiple restaurants in our area discounted copy and printing rates on their menus. As they have reopened, this has been a good source of repeat business.
We have reached out to many of our local businesses and done banners stating they are still open, as well as banner flags, yard signs, and floor decals for social distancing. We are actually discounting these items from our normal rates because we want to support our area small businesses while they may be struggling more than we are, and also because when things progress to a better normal, that “givers gain” mentality will pay dividends.
With unemployment spiking, many people have resorted to being more entrepreneurial. We’ve gained many new print customers through our mailbox rentals who needed business cards, car magnets, brochures, and flyers. We’ve offered either unlimited design revisions on their projects or discounts. Once again, we want to help them.
Digital Mailbox Rentals
While we’ve long been an advocate for this revenue stream, it’s become even more important during the pandemic. Not only do small businesses who work from home—or those in the trades without a traditional office—need a commercial address, this also brings you customers who may need other services you offer. It’s always easier to go deeper with a current customer than working to cast a net wider for other customers. Digital mailboxes also offer people a contactless way to manage their mail, eliminate junk mail, and receive packages for their online ordering.
If you haven’t started with digital mailboxes, put this article aside and go sign up. There are multiple vendors. Sign up with them all. They are vested in bringing you new customers. These new customers provide you with many more opportunities to cross-sell your other services. Many would not have found you otherwise. That’s free marketing for you.
Have you stopped reading? Email me at email@example.com and be registered for a chance for a $25 gift card or a free bag of our fresh roasted coffee. I want to hear your comments as well. Please share with me and others what you’ve been doing during the pandemic to pivot or grow your business.
Many of our stores have advertised contactless pickup of packages for shipping. We’ve done this with snowbirds and those that are concerned about going out. This is an opportunity for you to help your community and to potentially regain shipping volume that you’ve lost.
If you offer notary services, mobile notary can be a big assistance to customers because many banks and law offices are only working by appointment or not allowing walk-ins.
Think outside the box. How can you go out to the customers that may not be able or willing to come to you? These customers will definitely remember your hospitality. We also offer contactless transactions for those that come to our store and process their transactions while they stay in their cars.
With many changes in the landscape, it may be time to consider reverting back to some old school methods of marketing and customer contact. We are sending out thank you notes and postcards to valued and new customers. We’ve gotten great response from the postcards and a recent EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) we did. People are more likely to pay more attention now that many are working from home.
When the pandemic first hit, I figured this would be one area for us that would suffer. We may be the exception because we carry a very diverse offering and have been fortunate that many of our customers have turned to us for their gift item purchases. However, we did pivot by offering masks, hand sanitizers, and other PPE items for sale. We’re not trying to make our normal margins on these objects. We just want our customers to know that we’re a one-stop shop for them and that we are there to help them.
I hope that your business hasn’t been negatively impacted by the pandemic. I truly believe in the #MembersHelpingMembers goal of our organization. Don’t hesitate to contact me if there’s any way I can help you, or if you have any questions.
#IamAMBC … and so are you.
Norman Froscher and his wife Lisa co-own Espresso Mail in West Palm Beach, Florida and Norman serves on the AMBC Board of Directors as Director of Engagement and Board Vice Chair. When he’s not packing, shipping, or printing, he’s looking for a good cup of coffee or espresso, which makes it really convenient that he has a coffee bar in his store. #NormanKnows
This is a special bonus blog post of an article published in MBC Today Volume 22, Issue 5 (September / October 2020). AMBC Members receive each full issue of MBC Today by mail, and also may access a digital version in the members-only resources section on ambc4me.org.