It’s now official. The World Health Organization has officially characterized Coronavirus (Covid-19) as a pandemic. What does this mean for your pet business? There is no doubt that you and your pet business will feel the effects of the Coronavirus chaos. Your clients are canceling their travel plans. Concerts and conferences are postponed, and many employees are urged to work from home.
Unfortunately, many factors are out of our control, but we can find opportunity amidst this chaos. An increase in cancelations no doubt will take a toll on your bottom line, but panic will only make it worse. We can’t just sit there and sulk. We have clients to serve, a business to run, and staff to support. Yes, this will be frustrating and stressful, but it is now time to embrace this chaos and plan for the future. Let’s be proactive and NOT reactive!
Become a trusted Thought-Leader
No doubt, your clients are stressed and worried. Times like these are opportunities for you, as a pet care professional, to step up to the plate and establish yourself as a thought-leader. Show your clients that you are already prepared, and have developed systems and processes to keep you and your clients safe. Give your clients that peace of mind and be that trusted professional.
- Do the right thing and be kind: This may result in a hit to your bottom line, but being proactive will pay off in the future once the chaos fades. Pet owners will remember that you were there for them and will likely tell their friends and family.
- Community Facebook Groups: Get more active on social media! If you already have a Facebook Group that you were too busy to manage, now is the perfect time to dedicate some time. Provide your community with resources and industry-related information that they can trust.
- Send Clients an Email Update: Many of you have already sent your clients an email related to Covid-19. Reassuring clients about your systems and procedures and what you are doing to keep clients and employees safe. Here is an excellent example of a letter to pet owners. This email should cover safety precautions and instill the importance of keeping your pet’s routine. Encourage clients to avoid canceling daily walks/visits when forced to work from home to keep your employees working. Get a free email outline here.
Review Your Marketing
A slower period in business can be an opportunity to regroup and review your marketing strategies. Start planning for when the chaos settles, travel resumes, your clients are back to work, and bookings pick up again. Be productive with your time, and try to embrace this chaos.
- Review Your Analytics: Normally, we may be too busy to take a deep dive into your website’s analytics. Now is a great time to learn more about your site’s performance and address areas that need improvement. Work on your updating content to increase search engine ranking potential. Research your competitors and establish a plan to improve weaknesses.
- Update your website: If you have been putting off updating the content on your website or upgrading to a better performing new website, now is a good time. Auditing the content of your website is an excellent investment for ongoing SEO health. Web copy usually delays new website launches, so tackling this project during a slow period will help prepare for the future.
- Write Blogs: This is a great time to be proactive and establish a backlog of blog articles that can be published throughout the rest of the year. You will be happy to have this stashed when your business picks up again, and free time is sparse.
- Video Marketing: Video marketing is an emerging marketing technique that you should use. Take this time to record some new videos that can be used in your marketing for 2020 – you can even get your staff involved!
Work on your Business
Many of us are usually too busy to actually work on our business. Take this time to review last year’s financials and establish a plan for the remainder of 2020. Your plan may include preparing some marketing content for use later on in 2020 or making some much-needed adjustments to your business. It’s a good time to spring clean your mailing lists and work on building relationships with others in your community when you have extra time on your hands.
- Review Your Systems and Processes (SOPs): Now is a great time to review your SOPs, and ensure they are properly documented. Outline information regarding cancelation policies and health and safety practices to your clients and employees. What happens if a client or staff member falls ill? What if your client gets quarantined on their vacation? These are all policies that should be reviewed and updated if necessary. Plus, they are good to have established for future emergencies.
- Review Your Services: You are probably facing an influx of cancellations and a reduction in new bookings. Take a breath and take this opportunity to brainstorm ways your business can help your clients during this stressful time. Promote other services that you offer like dog walking or concierge services to help those who are high-risk and need to avoid the public. What can your pet business do to help your community?
- Upgrade your software: This may be something you have been planning to do for months or even years, but you just never had the time! This downtime in bookings may be the perfect time to upgrade your pet sitting or kennel software. Take this time to check off items that have been gathering dust on your to-do-list.
- Credit Card Processing Fees: Changing credit card processing companies can be a daunting task, but well worth the benefits if you can get those pesky rates lowered! Let’s save some money! Do some research into credit card processors when you have spare time to find that ideal partner that can lower your rates.
The panic and uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus are bound to impact your business in some way. With so much out of our control, it is time to find opportunities within this chaos. Start by reflecting and finding ways to build your business during this time. This can also be a good chance to work on you! Establish a new routine, eat healthier and exercise. Maybe it’s time to take up that new hobby you have always been wanting to try.
You can also check out our Facebook Live What the Coronavirus Means to Your Pet Business.
Johns Hopkins University and Medicine: Coronavirus interactive map.
Erika Godwin is the President of Barketing Solutions and the Co-Founder and CMO of ProPet Software, an industry-leading kennel management software. Erika has over 8 years of experience with WordPress and graduated from Elmira College in 2009 with a BS, Business Administration- Marketing and Management.