Reopening Tips, Resources and Inspiration

Athens County Inspires During a Season of Reopening

Great things are happening all around us!  You continue to inspire us with your reopening strategies, so let’s learn from each other.  One thing’s for sure, a new normal is on our horizon.  Change can be good, and working to keep our community healthy is creating some amazing innovation in the consumer experience in Athens County.  Here are a few tips and best practices that we love seeing at work in our area:

Signage at Your Entrance
Set the stage for your customers by greeting them with health suggestions and guidelines, specials of the day and special ways of thanking them for their business.  Additional signage throughout your business can remind them of how you are working to keep them healthy.  Keep it light and fun, but remind them you are taking this virus and everyone’s health seriously. (Nice work, Eclipse Company Store Beer Hall.)  Current guidelines REQUIRE you post capacity limits at your entrance.  The ACCVB can also provide you with health and safety posters.

Say Thank You, Say You Care.
A kind word goes a long way these days.  Thank your customers for following health and safety guidelines and keeping you and your staff safe so we can all stay open.  Thank them for their business with a personal note.  But don’t forget to also convey that you care.  New guidelines will be challenging to manage and sustain, and sometimes things might go wrong.  Be sure to convey that these guidelines matter to you, that you care about health and safety, and you care about your staff and patrons.  Keep the kindness flowing….Share a social media post with a pic of your favorite customers.  Offer a freebie, kid’s treat, extra slice of pie, discount for a future purchase – anything to sweeten the sale.  We’ve made it this far together, so give thanks when given the opportunity.

Innovate Packaging, Products, and Purchasing
Even though in-dining service is set to being later this week, many customers will still want to utilize the take-out and delivery options.  Special packaging, personal notes of thanks, ways to purchase online, and affordable, easy to take offerings keep customers engaged in multiple ways to support your business.

Get Social
Take to your social media platforms to make sure customers know your hours, daily specials, guidelines for service, order online options and changes you are making to accommodate health and safety requirements.  Get brave and use some video!  It doesn’t have to be epic, just from the heart.  People are searching for authenticity and simplicity, not over-produced sentiments.  Take it from Pam at Mountain Laurel Gifts, a mask and a smile along with a look inside the shop is all you need!  Check out Mountain Laurel’s video updates on their Facebook page.

Social media is can also be a haven for complaints or negative feedback.  Check your social media and use these tips if you are dealing with negative comments or difficult questions online or in person.

Co-Promote for a Bigger Impact
Find a partner, maybe a business neighbor, local producer or artist, or a favorite non-profit and support each other.  We’ve seen amazing things happen when partnerships are created, from community meal programs to social media support.  Partner up, create a strategy and some goals, and get to work.  Our friends at Hocking Valley Bank set the bar high with their Shop Local campaign and continue to inspire us with their support of local businesses.  The work of Avalanche Pizza and Brenens Cafe’ in partnering with local businesses and residents to provide meals has been pretty amazing, too.  Together, we can do good things.

Source Locally Whenever Possible
Whether your seeking products to sell or looking for ways to keep your business and staff healthy, find local sources whenever possible.  From masks to sanitizers to menu items, our local food producers, artists and healthcare experts are hard at work these days.  We can make Athens County prosperous and keep it healthy at the same time.

Finally, Take the Virus Seriously
As we welcome customers back into our spaces, and visitors back to our communities, don’t lose sight of the importance of taking the virus seriously.  We know you’ve felt the huge impact of the past two months, and for as much as you want to be back to where you were before, you’re focused on health and safety of your business and staff.   Things won’t always go as planned, no matter how much preparation you might put into it.   Keep the line of communication open with your customers and staff to address any issues that might arise.  Solve them as quickly as possible.  Should you encounter some negative feedback, here are a few helpful messaging tools to aid you in providing the best response.

Need advice?  Want to talk about a crazy idea?  We’re here for you.  Reach out to the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1.800.878.9767 or by email to Paige Alost at palost@athensohio.com.