To say 2020 has been nothing short of predictable doesn’t quite do the trajectory of this year justice. From the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, including widespread business closures globally, to the recent riots that also forced businesses to shut their doors, the implications of losing customers and cash flow have been felt across all industries.
One of the industries that took the hardest hit during the peak of the pandemic was the financial industry. In fact, during the pandemic, U.S. bank branch traffic fell over 30 percent in April and the first three weeks of May, compared with the same period last year. This coupled with social distancing safety precautions has inevitably led to many financial institutions temporarily closing some of their branch locations while shutting others indefinitely.
Multi-location brands understand the importance of maintaining their local listings, especially amid times of crisis. During periods of uncertainty, customers searching both on their desktop and mobile phone will turn to your listings to determine which of your locations are open, hours of operation, social distancing services you have available, and information about your safety protocols.
If you’re missing this information or failing to keep your listings up-to-date, you risk losing the trust of your customers and their business in a time where you need it most.
As we see more indefinite closures in the financial vertical, it’s pertinent to properly close or consolidate your locations in Google My Business (GMB). In this post, we will provide you with expert guidance on effectively closing branch locations, whether your locations are closing permanently or going through a consolidation.
Closing A Single Location
If one of your locations is no longer open, whether due to COVID-19 or for any other reason, it’s important to mark the listing as permanently closed to keep your customers informed. To mark a location as permanently closed in GMB:
- Sign in to your Google My Business account
- Click Info in the menu on the left
- Click Close or remove this listing > Mark as permanently closed > OK
Once you’ve completed the steps above, your location will appear as permanently closed on Google Maps and Search.
Closing Multiple Locations
If you’re trying to close multiple locations, from the list of your locations, select all the locations you want to mark permanently closed.
- On the toolbar near the top, click Actions > Permanently Closed
- In the dialog that appears, click Mark permanently closed
The locations you selected will appear as permanently closed on Google Maps and Search.
Reported As Permanently Closed
There may be an instance when a user has already marked one of your locations as permanently closed. If this is the case, you may get a “Reported as permanently closed” notification in GMB. If you want to proceed with permanently closing the business after receiving this notification:
- Click Reported as permanently closed > Confirm closed
- To confirm the location status, click Review
Taking these steps will also mark your location as permanently closed on Google Maps and Search.
Also, if you work directly with a Local Marketing partner, they can also help you remove the location/s, eliminating any work needed on your end.
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the way businesses once operated, some businesses are forced to merge locations. In this instance, you will then have two verified locations within GMB. To start, you’ll need to follow the steps outlined above to close the location that will be merging with your other location. A question that pops up often when consolidating locations is can you merge two locations within GMB to retain your reviews you worked hard to attain?
The simple answer to this question is it is possible, however, it is dependent on the situation. Google may transfer over your reviews, as long as:
- Your business moves from one location to another but keeps the same business name (this does not apply to businesses heavily tied to their locations, such as hotels)
- You make a minor name change
- You have multiple locations and the business name changes
- Your business closes (reviews will remain attached to the closed business)
Google strives to provide relevant, helpful, and trustworthy reviews to its customers. If your previous reviews do not apply to your new location, there is a good chance Google will not deem these reviews as relevant. Therefore, if there are significant changes to your business when consolidating, reviews may be removed if they’re no longer applicable to your business.
You may request to transfer your reviews here. Please note, you will need to present proof of ownership when speaking with a Google representative about making updates to your listings. Additionally, you can turn to your local marketing partner for assistance with transferring your reviews to another listing.
Leverage Your Local Pages
Your Local Pages also present another prime opportunity to showcase which of your locations are permanently closed, temporarily closed, or have resumed normal business hours.
They are also an opportunity to share any longer form updates you have regarding:
- COVID-19 updates your customers are searching for such as new safety protocols in your lobby areas and sanitization methods.
- If you have special or limited hours of operation as your branches reopen.
- Social distancing measures you have in place to protect customers and employees.
- How many people are allowed in your location(s) at a time?
- Any virtual services you’re offering at this time.
We recommend you update each of your location’s Local Pages to surface this critical information to your customers and share how your brand is actively working to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In Need Of Support Closing Branch Locations?
Need help or additional resources when looking to consolidate or close your financial institution’s locations? We are here to help guide and support you. Reach out to our expert local marketers for assistance at any time.