Becoming a Community Business Leader in Times of Crisis

Adversity is a regular part of life. It provides a test of our individual and collective resolve. But it also presents opportunities for positive change. Our current global crisis is exactly this kind of situation. With the recent closure of non-essential businesses combined with social distancing, many people have had the structure and routine of their lives suddenly pulled from under them. Citizens are searching for daily guidance from our government but even more so from their friends and neighbors. Now is the time for your business to step forward and become the community leader your neighbors are searching for. Seize the opportunity to change your perspective to focus on togetherness, on possibilities, and become a provider, not just a survivor.

The current two-fold problem is obvious: small businesses must generate revenue at a time when there is a dramatic decrease in-store traffic; and, people still need goods and services to survive. While some ignore health official directives and still go out to do their shopping, the majority are staying home and isolating. For restaurants specifically, this problem is compounded by the fact that dine-in service has been shut down in many states so even the people that are out… cannot come in. If you already have a drive-thru you’re prepared for this scenario. If not, offering curbside pickup is one option to keep revenue coming in. Retail stores can benefit from this as well. Your customers simply place the order, pay, and when they pull up to your store it is brought directly to their car and loaded in the trunk or back seat with no human interaction necessary. 

The next logical step is offering free delivery. Citizens practicing social distancing will need everything from cleaning supplies to cat litter to cannelloni. On the surface, delivery is the most straightforward method of generating revenue while customers during times like these. Looking deeper, it is also an act of community goodwill to create a service that also targets delivery to the ill, elderly, or those who would be unable to leave quarantine for groceries, shopping, or pickup. Explore the cost of insurance to hire current employees as delivery drivers. The costs could very well be offset by the consistent revenue stream generated. Employees who would be more or less unemployed will be grateful to work as temporary delivery drivers to ensure they continue to receive a paycheck.

Letting your community know you’re open and offering these services is vital. For those still out and about, banners and signage placed outside of your business can communicate that even amidst uncertainty, you are there for them. Provide the information about the helpful services you’re offering, phone number and website, etc. Postcards and pamphlets containing similar messages can be sent via traditional mail to reach those who choose to stay in. You can also add to your employee support program by paying them to deliver these materials. Another great idea? Offer a free roll of toilet paper or bottle of hand sanitizer with every delivery. Talk to your supplier(s) to get availability and to place your order. Win-win scenarios are always critical, but they take on added significance during times of acute crisis.

Probably the most important part of elevating your business to that of community providers is maximizing the power of social media. With significantly more time spent at home, the vast majority of people are more than likely spending their days online. Use the web to keep in touch with customers and update them on operating hours, delivery options, and special services and offers. Take it a step further and create social groups. Social groups can offer updates on everything from resources available to the elderly and infirm to news updates. 

Organizing an interactive experience while maintaining a steady – but not overwhelming – stream of posts and updates can also be used to connect other local businesses in the community as well. It’s about creating connective communication for everyone. Building a community takes effort, and effort leads to dramatically affected positive outcomes. That’s why you started your business. To improve the lives of your neighborhoods and communities. Sometimes we lose sight of that. During moments of need, we’re reminded that at the heart of all we do, that’s what life is about.

Volunteer opportunities with your team further strengthen relationships within your business and your community while serving a larger altruistic purpose. But don’t confine yourself to your business by itself. Use those digital groups to join forces with other local companies and entrepreneurs to provide support and relief to the community at large. Lead that charge. From donating time or funds for medical relief to offering free delivery services to those in need, there is a myriad of opportunities for providing aid to those around you. You can even donate perishable or other dated goods. Just be sure to work with established advocates, charities, and groups who form this particularly vibrant sector. They’re the experts. Plus, you might even get a write-off for your donation. Regardless, remember this: a business that takes the time and effort to give financial support as well as donate services is one worthy of admiration and respect. Your community will take notice. When we return to normal operations, they will remember all you did to organize and assist to make a difficult time easier. 

It is our duty to support one another when a crisis occurs. Adapting to new and unexpected changes by embracing out of the box thinking and keeping those in need at the heart of your operations are the keys to rising above. The greatest hope to come from all of these efforts is to inspire those around you to take action and provide to those who need to support the most. We may be living in stressful times, but there is always hope and positivity to be found in the power of the human spirit.

Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.