After Sunday’s announcement that South Africa’s listeriosis outbreak has been linked to two major food brands, people have been scrambling to figure out what to do. Retailers are accepting returned products and refunding people, while businesses were told to stop selling viennas, russians, polony and other processed meat products. So far, 180 people have died due to listeriosis.
Some media houses report the informal fast-food industry, which includes businesses that sell food such as kotas and some of our other favourites, is a R1-billion industry. These stoppages puts that potential income at extreme risk, and also means consumers have fewer options to choose from for lunch during work.
So if you have a small business, and this is what you make your money selling, what can you do?
I have a few marketing pointers for people that might make life easier until we know when the moratorium on eating processed meats is up.
- Stay honest with your consumers. If you lie or don’t tell the whole truth, you’re killing your brand. That’s something I’ve learned over time. It’s money on the table that you’ll be losing for a short time, but rather be safe. In the long run, consumers know they can trust you and that you have their best interests at heart. Who would you prefer to return to, the person who has your wellness top of mind, or the one who tells you it’s safe only for you (or your family) to get ill?
- Remember flexibility in business. This is the lifeblood of any business. Offer other meals while we wait for the crisis to pass. There are eggs cheese and other inexpensive food items you can stock in the meantime. The best way to know what to get is to ask your customers what else you can offer them. This will be over soon, so make sure you other products to offer.
- Do. Not. Quit. Business is going through tough times. But now is not the time to quit! It’s time to dig deep and ask “what else can I do?” There are customers who will always come back to you. And those loyal will remain so if you follow all three steps from beginning to end.
Good luck during this trying time! As they say, “this too shall pass”. In the meantime, we come up with innovative ideas to cope. As with anything related to owning a business, uphills come and go. Just remember that you can overcome this too!