The COVID-19 Survival Guide for Custom Businesses

March 30th, 2020

This is a challenging time for custom shops all around the world. Sign shops, print shops, trophy shops, custom apparel shops, business card shops, vehicle graphic shops, and other custom manufacturing shops are feeling the struggle right now.

Even in the middle of this health crisis and economic slowdown, there is hope for all types of custom businesses. This is a time to make smart choices so your business can survive now and thrive when businesses are allowed to operate as usual.

Health and Safety

Protect health and wellbeing: First and foremost, practice the guidelines provided by the CDC by maintaining safe social distancing and good hygiene like washing hands with soap and water. It's important to ensure the safety and wellbeing of yourself, your family, and your employees. Make sure that any employee that is sick does not come to work.

Work from Home: After you have taken safety precautions for health, determine which employees can work from home and which need to remain at the shop. With shopVOX and other cloud software like Quickbooks and Adobe, several team members can effectively work from home and still collaborate as needed.

Keep Sales Coming:

Open an online store: People feel safer shopping online right now, so offer your products online. shopVOX makes it easy to convert your products into an online store. Read this article.

Fundraising stores: Let hospitals, churches, shelters, food banks, and other non-profits know that you can create a fundraising store for them. This can help you to continue to pay your employees while helping others.

Offer free shipping: Many are hesitant to leave their homes or may not be allowed to due to a stay-at-home order. But, they may still want or need a product that you offer. Entice them with free shipping. This gives them an incentive to order from you and never leave their home.

Gift cards: Many people want to support their local custom shops, but due to the current circumstances, they hesitate. So, offer gift cards, so they can still support your business, but order later. Perhaps offer gift cards at 5% discount.


Cut back: Take an honest look at your finances. Determine what expense can you cut right now. What items do not directly impact the management of your projects, quality of your work and customer service? Perhaps subscriptions to magazines, club memberships, water delivery, or high-end materials?

Put off big purchases: If you were eyeing up a new and improved printer, hold off – just for now. This is a great time to do more research on that product and to check out other printers.

Maintain Relationships

Follow up: Whenever a customer cancels an order during this time, make sure you follow up on that customer. Let them know that you will keep all notes and designs filed away, so they can easily order after this time period.

Emails: One great way to maintain relationships with your customers or potential customers is to create a weekly email campaign. This email campaign should be mostly informational or entertaining. For example, if you are using this time to make changes to your company, create an email with fun pictures of what you are doing. If you are still producing products, show them off. If you are doing good deeds during this time, let your customer know.

Check-in: Call customers to just check up and see how they are holding up throughout this crisis. Be sincere. Let them know you are there if they need anything, but don't make this a sales call.

Surveys: This is an ideal time to figure out what your customers loved about your business and what would like to see improved. Create a survey and send it our. Use this feedback to make changes.

Send cards: Send thank you cards to customers. Let them know that you appreciate them and their patronage over the years. Send a card to just check in and to wish they are staying safe through the coronavirus outbreak. Handwrite messages and personally sign them.

Improve Your Business

Since many of us have extra time on our hands, don't waste it. There is more time to organize, implement better systems, get better pricing, learn more efficient installation techniques, and whatever else you have been wanting to do.

Post-it notes: If you still are using post-it notes, transfer those notes into shopVOX.

Product management: Figure out which custom products sell the most and bring in the most money, as well as those that don't bring in much revenue. Then make changes accordingly. Update shopVOX with any products that are not already in there.

Project management: Look over your project management system and see what you can improve. Do you create impossible deadlines, poor communication or lack defined roles of employees? Seek solutions to these problems and improve your project management.

Create sales pipelines: Create these pipelines now, so you are ready to start selling as soon as this is over. The pipelines will make it easier for you to manage sales leads. Here is how to customize sales pipelines in shopVOX.

Update your social feeds. Marketing on social media is easier today than it ever was. Make sure you are making your mark on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This is a great time to learn how to use these platforms and to create strategies.

Prepare a marketing plan. We are often so business working that we don't properly create a marketing plan until there is a lull in projects. Now is a time to figure out who your ideal customer is and how you can reach them. Create a plan that can continue and be easily adjusted as needed.

I hope this guide offers hope and helpful tips for this time. We know it's challenging and it's not an easy time. But, together we can get through it. We are offering free coaching sessions and ShopVOX development sessions to help you through this. Please don't hesitate to reach out.

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