Home Blog Reopening Local Businesses: A Checklist for Multi-Location Brands

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With many states currently in the process of reopening for business as vaccines roll out to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, local businesses are likely to encounter unprecedented new challenges. The road to our new normal is looking to be an uncertain one, with businesses temporarily closing and reopening as local conditions require.

Specific reopening strategies will differ depending on the business type. However, there are some areas of common ground for all multi-location companies that will help you regain local search visibility quickly, namely:

✔️  Keeping key local listings up to date.

✔️  Updating Local Pages and FAQs.

✔️  Engaging on social media.

✔️  Catching up on any missed reviews.

✔️  Updating information about pandemic-related safety measures, services, etc.

Providing accurate, up-to-date information to customers in all locations helps ensure that their experiences with and impressions of your brand are protected in this time of transition. Here are some tips to help you accomplish just that.

Bring Key Local Listings Up To Date

Chances are high that your brands and locations have gone through many changes this last year, perhaps with varying opening hours, the introduction of new products and services, additional health and safety measures, and more. 

Local listings are an important point of discovery and also one of the first places your customers will go to find information about your business (and even more so during times of uncertainty). Various search engines and business networking sites such as Google, Yelp, and Bing have developed specific COVID-19 special features to support you in sharing essential information with your customers. 

Google My Business enables you to easily update your business hours, input secondary hours for additional services, and add additional attributes such as ‘dine in’ and ‘in-store shopping’ to your business listing. Google Posts are great for announcing the reopening of your business or for showcasing other COVID-19 related announcements. 

Bank of America COVID-19 Post

Likewise, on Yelp, you can add specific COVID-19 attributes like ‘social distancing enforced’ and ‘limited capacity’ to let customers know what is being done to keep them safe. Their Advisory Alerts can be used to communicate special business announcements, and the Yelp Waitlist allows customers to waitlist online while restaurants monitor seat capacity and wait times. 

Bing Places for Business also has an announcements feature for communicating real-time updates to customers. It also enables you to add special hours for your business hours while keeping existing hours active. Some companies have the option of adding a GoFundMe Campaign to their listing. 

Keep on Top of Local and FAQ Pages

Local pages are also key, especially for companies with locations in different states subject to varying rules and regulations regarding reopening. Here, you can display localized content such as details on products, services, and policies relevant to the specific location. 

This ensures your customers know what they can access and when. Providing this kind of detailed information will help increase confidence in your brand, answer location-specific queries, and can increase conversions. 

Customers are likely to have specific questions on what to expect during reopening. These may revolve around safety protocols, location accessibility, and service alterations. You can address all of these and more on your FAQ page and in Questions and Answers on GMB. This will free up time that may otherwise be spent fielding such questions via phone, email, or online, reducing the burden on your support team. 

Get Creative on Social Media 

During lock-down, the use of social media sites increased exponentially. It’s one of the most effective ways to reach customers, both old and new. People now pay far more attention to a brand’s online presence than ever before.

Capture customer attention by organizing a reopening campaign. You will need to get creative to really stand out from the crowd, as many other businesses will likely be doing the same. Make use of special offers, deals, promotions, contests, giveaways, and any other tactics you can think of to engage your target audience. This also applies to any partnerships you’d like to highlight, such as the partnership between Target and CVS referenced below:

Keep in mind that just because you are able to reopen doesn’t necessarily mean customers will feel confident about returning right away. Build trust by providing precise and detailed information for each location — exact times and dates, store or restaurant capacity, capacity limitations, mask protocols, products and services available, etc. 

Demonstrating due diligence when it comes to keeping your customers safe is another crucial part of this. Highlighting measures that have been put in place is a great way to do this. Sharing photos and videos of the site and the people working there helps give customers a clear idea of what to expect from their visit. 

Address Any Reviews That Went Unanswered

Reviews are an important point of contact with your customer and also a heavily weighted factor in your local and organic search rankings. Prompt responses are best but if you were unable to engage and respond to reviews during your company’s shutdown, it’s not too late.

Listening to what your customers are saying also helps you identify any areas in need of improvement at specific locations, such as issues with purchasing certain products, booking appointments, or long waiting times for delivery or curbside. Monitoring, triaging, and responding to local reviews requires that you have the people, process, and platform in place to scale your efforts. Learn more best practices in The Guide to Managing Local Reviews at Scale.

Evaluate Current and Ongoing COVID-19 Services 

While services such as contactless payment options and buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) may no longer be essential once restrictions are lifted, many people will continue to use these options where possible. While some individuals may be ready for a quick switch back to pre-COVID ways, others will be more reluctant to let go of social distancing practices. 

Take this time to consider whether your omnichannel services are as efficient as they could be in all locations. Are they creating an exceptional experience for your customers? 

Make good use of health and safety attributes in GMB to instantly relay that information to searchers who are looking for locations to take specific measures. Then, analyze review and customer service feedback to ensure your services are meeting consumers’ expectations in each location.

Reopening Local Businesses - GMB Features

Follow the steps set out here for a more seamless opening experience for you, your staff, and your customers alike.

Getting customer communications and local marketing right in a post-pandemic world is essential, and doing that at scale comes with unique challenges. Contact your Rio SEO Account Director today or reach out to us via email to learn more about how we can help in your brand’s unique situation.