Communicating the Grand Reopening Plan
Chase Koeneke | Senior Copywriter

After months of sheltering at home, many states and cities are beginning to allow businesses to reopen. But it can be tricky for customers to know what’s actually available to them. Missouri’s governor, for example, reopened the state while St. Louis – the state’s largest city –  extended its shutdown.

To make matters more confusing, some businesses are choosing to stay closed despite the stay at home order being lifted. And while you can’t fault them for putting safety first, knowing exactly which businesses are up and running again isn’t a given.

So, if you’re a business that’s opening its doors back up, you’re going to need to inform your clientele of that change. But in these unusual times, this requires more than just a simple “WE’RE OPEN” sign. Not only must you let people know you’re open, but articulate that you’re prepared to look after their safety when they visit.

How do you do that? Just look at the businesses that have been doing it during this entire pandemic: Restaurants.

Last week, I was craving Mexican food, something I’ve gone without for months save for the odd frozen taquito, which only counts as Mexican food in the most generous of technicalities. I Googled one of my favorite eateries and noticed the hours featured on the restaurant’s Google listing had changed from their pre-pandemic hours. That’s a good sign. Many other businesses have left their normal hours up, leaving customers in an ambiguous bind on whether those hours are real or not.

Next, I clicked on their website and the first thing I see is a big pop up, “TO GO ORDERS ONLY.” Excellent. The rules of engagement are clearly established. This particular restaurant did not have online ordering available, but their phone number was very clear on the site. I called and gave them my order and the woman on the other end of the phone told me exactly what to expect: Park in the lot, use the east door, only one customer in the building at a time, pick up your food from the table once you’ve paid, exit out the west door. Perfect. I now knew exactly what to expect and what was expected of me. Pick-up was smooth and easy and everyone was friendly as could be. I can’t wait to order from there again.

What are the lessons your business can take from this Mexican restaurant?

Have A Plan

Before you can communicate your plan, you must first have one. Take a long look at your business, think about how you can streamline the customer experience, and consider what services you can safely offer. Look at your building’s layout and determine how a customer walks through your space and establish policies for your employees and your customers. How will you handle payment? How many people can safely be in your space? How can you limit the number of people touching or handling products or surfaces? These are just some of the things you need to think through before you reopen

Update Your Google Listing

This is how many people first interact with your business, whether they know you or not. Keep the information on here current.

Update Your Website

This is your best chance to tell your audience exactly what’s going on. Adding a pop-up or redirecting to a landing page is a great idea to inform people that it’s not just business as usual. Inform them of the precautions you’re taking as a business and let them know your policies that will need to be followed by them. Maybe you’re requiring that everyone who enters wear a mask while inside. Or that you’ve marked spaces on the floor where people should stand when being checked out. Or even better: Make a video with all this information. It’s more engaging and gives the audience a visual example that will be easier to follow.

Reinforce On Social Media

Use every available asset, especially your social media channels – an excellent way to keep your business top of mind as we all transition to the new normal. Post your updated hours, reuse the video you made for the website, show customers interacting with your business to show others that it’s safe. And as always, be attentive and answer any questions your customers send you to give them peace of mind.

Email Your Subscribers

As people who have chosen to hear more from you, these are likely your most loyal customers, so they may already know about your reopening. But it can’t hurt to give them a little extra love and lay out exactly what you’re doing. Your content here doesn’t have to be all that much different from your other channels, but pay close attention to your subject line. An optimistic message with a strong call to action is what you’re looking for here to reassure customers and entice them to open the email up.

Remember, your customers aren’t going to come back if they don’t feel safe. These are all tips to help you communicate that you have considered their fears and have taken the appropriate steps to overcome them. And keep in mind this is not a one-time fix. As time moves on and our situation changes, you will have to go through this whole process again to keep your customers informed. If you find yourself needed help crafting or executing on any of these messages, Elasticity is here to help. When we’re back in our offices, we’ll be sure to let you know our plan.

Chase Koeneke

Chase is the resident writer at Elasticity, playing with language and polishing messages to a mirror sheen. A graduate of the University of Missouri’s journalism program, he’s well-versed in everything from AP style to social media marketing, always looking at ways to use fewer words to forge deeper connections with consumers and businesses. But putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys, as the case may be) isn’t the whole story. His skill set also includes concepting, strategy, editing and even the occasional directing of video when called upon, and he’s worked with clients as varied as Brown-Forman, the St. Louis Blues and Bass Pro Shops.

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