With news coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic prepping Americans for the impending health crisis, many are taking extreme precautions with whom they interact, where they are going, and the businesses that they frequent. According to The Washington Post, “consumer spending – which supports 70 percent of the economy – is grinding to a halt,” and cannabis businesses are not immune.
The only way to shore up your business and maintain your customer base is through public relations and communication, internally and externally. A lack of information breeds fears and anxiety. You have the power to alleviate those concerns and navigate this health crisis.
Communicate with your Customers: No one in this country has dealt with this kind of crisis in recent years, so there are questions all around on how to deal with it. Tell your customers about the extra precautions that you are taking in your dispensary to maintain a hygienic environment. CEO Wanda James of Simply Pure did a great job of this recently in an online video posted to Instagram, where she informed her customers of the precautions that they have always taken and are currently taking to ensure customer safety.
Make company announcements across multiple platforms: This will show your customers, employees, and stakeholders that you have a firm grasp of the situation and that you are covering all of your bases. By having one standard message across all platforms it also leaves no room for miscommunication.
Communicate with your suppliers: Around the country, quarantines may go into place, impacting your supply chain. Or perhaps you are a vape pen manufacturer waiting on parts to come in from China. You need to be aware of what strains and products may not be coming into your store so you can inform your patients and your budtenders. With this knowledge in hand, you can determine alternative product recommendations for your patients and have your workers prepared to offer that advice.
Have in Place Emergency Preparedness Plan: Make sure all employees are aware of contingency plans when they may call in sick, have childcare issues when their children are kept home from school, or you run out of product. You don’t want your business to be impacted because your employees don’t know how to react to internal conflicts.
Educate the media: In this 24-hour news cycle, reporters are going to need to fill every angle possible in their broadcasts to inform the public about what is going on in their communities and they will eventually look at what is going on in the cannabis industry. You want your organization to be known for the care, calm, and professionalism that the cannabis industry is bringing to this health crisis. If reporters have medical questions about what impact cannabis might have on the virus, bring in a doctor that you trust to speak on your behalf. Since COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, speak to reporters about products you may be advising patients to take that are not consumed through the lungs. Don’t wing it and don’t make unfounded claims about your product being able to cure it.
Above all, take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Our industry is still in its infancy, now is not the time for martyrs. We need everyone healthy and an “abundance of caution” is not cowardice, it’s the best science available.