Employee of delivery business wearing medical mask

Protecting Your Delivery Business During COVID-19

5 min read • Apr 22, 2020 • Derek Miller

The spread of coronavirus across the country has upended most businesses. Some companies have moved their operations remotely, but brick-and-mortar businesses like bars and restaurants have had to close down entirely. While many companies are seeing a downturn in business, some are thriving.

Delivery businesses are currently in high demand as consumers try to adapt to home quarantine. Couriers, food delivery, and local businesses with delivery options are having to adjust to this heavy influx of orders, while also protecting their staff and customers, maintaining quality control, and building a positive reputation.

Here are a few ways for you to protect your delivery business during COVID-19.

Communicate That You Are Open During This Time

Since the coronavirus outbreak, many businesses have closed their doors or modified their hours drastically, creating a state of uncertainty for consumers. Most customers aren’t sure which businesses are closed and which are open.

If you’re a delivery business owner and are continuing to operate during COVID-19, you need to take a proactive approach to communicate that information to your customers. Do not assume that they know you’re still open.

Use your various communication channels to send frequent updates on your availability. Daily posts on social media, weekly emails, and prominent messaging on your website can alert customers that you are still in business. 

Now is the time to get creative with your marketing. Maybe you want to run email campaigns or create signs for your storefront, letting people know you’re open and have delivery options. With many companies closed, this situation could be an opportunity for you to increase brand loyalty and attract new customers. 

Consider Offering a Delivery Option—If It Makes Sense

Fewer people leaving their homes means fewer in-store purchases. This reality is probably felt the most by restaurants, bars, and other eateries.

With stay-at-home orders and mandatory lockdowns, people are turning to food delivery services like DoorDash or Uber Eats. If you’re a restaurant owner, you may want to partner with these services during the pandemic—but you need to first determine the value of partnering with a food delivery provider.

Most food delivery services charge upwards of 20% of a bill to merchants who use their services. This commission could significantly eat away at your profits—especially if you’re unable to supplement that with dine-in customers.

In response to COVID-19, food delivery services are modifying their merchant contracts and fees to make it easier and more affordable for restaurants. For example, DoorDash is offering 30 days of 0% commission for new merchants. 

Each food delivery provider is different and has its own promotions right now, so compare each and find the best one for your business.

If partnering with delivery companies isn’t economical for your business, you might be tempted to offer your own delivery option. This could be worthwhile—especially if you have a stable of repeat, local customers. As with the delivery providers above, make sure you analyze this option carefully before making a decision.

Keep Your Staff and Products Safe

Consumers are hyper-conscious of all products and brands right now. Your customers want to know that you are handling their orders carefully and that they aren’t at risk of catching COVID-19 from your company. 

As a delivery-based business, you have a responsibility not just to your customers but to your employees, too. You need to guarantee that your products and processes are safe and secure for all parties involved.

Constantly monitor recommendations and guidelines from the CDC and WHO—and adjust your business operations accordingly. Go above and beyond with sanitization and social distancing, and don’t be afraid to turn away business if you think it can put your staff or customers in jeopardy. 

Be sure to communicate changes effectively to your staff and customers. This practice will improve everyone’s welfare and increase trust in your organization.

Create Specials to Drive Sales

Businesses across the country are getting creative to drive business. For example, to support the small businesses that are hurting from a lack of foot traffic, companies banded together for The Great American Takeout day last week, where people were encouraged to visit their favorite restaurant for takeout or order delivery. 

If you are noticing a decrease in customers because of the coronavirus, look at your offerings and see what kinds of sales or promotions you can offer. A few examples include:

  • Offer buy-one-get-one sales to make your products more compelling. 
  • Bundle products together to accommodate families or to help people stock up. 
  • Include free items for customers who hit certain thresholds, encouraging buyers to spend more. 

There are many ways to adjust your business to move more products and keep your delivery team busy. These specials can help mitigate lost revenue.  

Determine If You’re an Essential Business and Plan Accordingly

Many cities have launched shelter-in-place orders where people are told to stay home unless they are essential. This order has led many businesses to question whether they are essential during this time. If you expect a similar restriction to come down in your city, take the time now to prepare.

Look at ordinances in similar cities or states as yours to determine where your delivery business falls. If your business would be classified as essential, make plans now to communicate with your customers and promote your services. If your business would not be essential, determine how long you can survive the closure and what that means for the rest of your business. 

Whether your business is essential or not, the government is enacting relief programs to help you survive this tough time. Whether you’re considering an emergency bridge loan that’s interest-free or taking an SBA loan from the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—there’s a way to keep your business afloat.

Prepare for Changes Ahead

Your delivery business can survive the COVID-19 pandemic, and it may even grow as a result of it. This is an opportunity to showcase how you can communicate with customers, adapt to changes as needed, and put out quality products under stress. Every business will face challenges in the coming weeks, but yours can stay ahead of the wave with the right preparations and adaptations.

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Derek Miller

Derek Miller is the CMO of Smack Apparel, the content guru at Great.com, the co-founder of Lofty Llama, and a marketing consultant for small businesses. He specializes in entrepreneurship, small business, and digital marketing, and his work has been featured in sites like Entrepreneur, GoDaddy, Score.org, and StartupCamp.