High streets have always operated as the hub of local communities. During times of crisis, making that position known can make all the difference to the morale of your local area.
Residents are now more reliant than ever on their local high street businesses, especially as many online-only offerings have failed to scale their operations to meet current demand.
Many local high streets are now rising to the challenge of the new realities forced upon us by social distancing by working on effective community collaboration.
BIDs, trader associations, town teams and other kinds of local champions should review all aspects of place marketing by offering local reach to local communities and business owners through their own channels, such as:
- Social media
- Messaging groups
- Traditional local media
- Other local community groups
Co-ordinating opening hours, special offers and delivery runs for key workers, elderly, vulnerable and volunteers across the high street can help to minimise the need for outside trips and potential of cross-infection. The cost and complexity of introducing new capabilities can be eased through collaboration between all businesses on the high street.
This includes things like:
- Local delivery
- Sharing staff between businesses
- Organising training for furloughed staff
- Group-buying cleaning supplies
As well as collaborating with other businesses and stakeholders on your high street, it is important to assess what else can be done to contribute and benefit through more active involvement with your sector-specific national trade associations during this period.
Each local business should contribute to high street initiatives across marketing, selling and fulfilment to make sure that the high street can do whatever is needed to serve the local community.
There are dozens of different ideas to consider in relation to this goal alone, from sharing overheads costs to training your employees, redoing your shop window regularly to spreading the word on social media, and more.
In addition to collaborating as a high street, the other goals that we encourage all high street businesses to work on are:
- Reducing your business costs
- Selling through multiple channels
- Marketing during lockdown
- Preparing for the future
- Funding your business
Here at SaveTheHighStreet.org, we are now running 12-week COVID-19 support programmes for local high street business owners, working closely with each business to develop and implement a highly personalised plan that considers every possible idea across all 6 goals listed above.
This is our most hands-on support programme ever and aims to give as many local businesses as possible the best chance of success on the high street, for now and for the future.