Last week we posted a blog on Business Engagement, where we discussed the importance of strengthening relationships between councils & BID teams, with high street and town centre shops.

Although UK town centres are mostly closed right now, we wanted to explore what businesses can do now to prepare for reopening and how councils, BIDs, and other groups can encourage them to prepare.

Top tips

  • Once the funding/grants have been allocated to businesses, remind them (within existing communications) that this will be over at some point and businesses need to start preparing for their reopening
  • Where surveys are being used, keep them open for longer and include multiple engagement options. Take the findings from them – particularly the Covid-19 surveys many councils are running – to tailor business support (where possible)
  • In conversations with councils and BIDs some are struggling, as they don’t have up-to-date contact details for businesses. Now is a good time to start collating this information to make future projects easier to identify by:
    • Using the business support mails to request contact information (asking current recipients to share the email with other businesses and adding a link to update their own details). Start with business rates data as this includes the baseline or details for those allocated grants
    • Start a similar process for landlords. This isn’t a quick task and it may be impossible to find details for some properties, but it’s often missing information that delays plans
  • Support businesses by moving online, maintaining their visibility and helping them ensure they have customers when they come back. The main ways they can do this are by:
    • Creating a free Google My Business page on which they can add basic contact information (including whether they are open now or not)
    • Signing up to an online delivery platform. We’ve partnered with ShopAppy to get businesses online. This platform is place-focused and offers customers the facility to shop from multiple local businesses with single click check-out and delivery. With many businesses trying new approaches there is no reason why a delivery or click and collect option can’t remain in place when businesses reopen
    • Focusing on what they need to do to reopen. Will the shop front need repainting when the hoardings come down? (or the windows cleaning?), does stock need to be moved back into the shop? How will the window display look? (where space allows and consider if a local competition would be useful post-lockdown to encourage people back?
    • Businesses also need to think about how they can cover their opening hours when they reopen. Can they find cover to reopen or adapt their opening hours?

Even though we don’t know what post-lockdown trading will look like at the moment, it will be of benefit for businesses to start planning how they may need to adapt.

You can hear more about preparing for high street life post-lockdown in this Podcast by Cathy Parker for the High Streets Task Force.