Holding Steady in Times of Crisis: Business Owners Offer Ways to Help

Cafe owner serving a bagel

At Pursuit, we’ve worked with hundreds of businesses and while each of them is different, there’s one thing that they all have in common: New challenges present themselves everyday – and that’s especially true in difficult times like these.

We talked to several of our clients who own businesses in a range of industries – restaurants, wellness services, manufacturing/food production, art and retail, and hospitality – to get their insight. They shared their current challenges and ways that clients and the public can help.

We hope that it’s helpful for you, whether you’re also an owner or someone who wants to help businesses near you.

Here are four ways you can help your local businesses:

1. Consider rescheduling events and trip plans, rather than canceling outright

Challenge:

Travel is on hold, restaurants and bars must restrict hours and limit service, and events from birthday parties and weddings to business conferences and graduations are postponed indefinitely.

As a result, businesses in the hospitality, food-and-beverage and leisure industries are taking immediate financial hits.

“Once news of the coronavirus broke, future bookings stopped,” explain Ellen and Joe Lettieri, owners of InnBuffalo. “As a result of college and university closures, restrictions on business travel and cancelled events in the community, our weekday business reservations have all been cancelled, too. No one’s booking for future dates, either.” 

They continue, “This is a triple whammy as far as revenues:  We have no current guests, we’re not taking deposits from future guests for rooms or events and, as the cancellations pour in, we’re having to refund guest deposits.”

Ways to help:

If the events or trips that you’ve already planned will likely still take place when the current health crisis subsides, consider rescheduling them and allowing the venue to keep the deposit you’ve already made.

If you’re unsure of whether or not the event or trip will be rescheduled, ask for a credit rather than a full refund. Many businesses in these industries are experiencing a cash-flow crunch and issuing a credit to be used at a later time can help them meet current challenges.

“We’re happy to work with guests to reschedule stays and special events for later dates,” says Ellen. “And, in a few months, if guests decide they’d prefer a refund, we can issue one when we’ve financially recovered a bit.”

2. Purchase a gift card or certificate now

Challenge:

Many service-based businesses that normally rely on onsite guests are at a loss for ways to raise short-term revenue.

“Our revenue for March essentially disappeared,” says Melissa Thurman, owner of Engage Art Studio. “In Pennsylvania, they’ve shut down all schools until the end of the month and almost immediately half of our reservations for parties and classes cancelled, which is a severe impact.”

Ways to help:

Buying a gift card or certificate now for future use helps generate some much-needed revenue for your favorite businesses. Consider birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions that are in the future and get those gifts out of the way now. Or, buy a gift card or certificate now and make a commitment for a future visit.

“Purchasing gift certificates now to use later is a great way to help businesses,” Melissa says. Many businesses offer gift card and gift certificate purchases through their website, making it even easier to offer your support during this time. Get in touch with your local businesses to find out how you can purchase one for future use.”

3. Follow your favorite local businesses on social media to learn about new offerings and services

Challenge:

When people can’t come onsite to shop, dine or buy, businesses need to find ways to serve clients through online and indirect channels.

While some already have an online channel for purchases, many are starting to set them up now to ensure they can still generate revenue.

Ways you can help:

During this time of “social distancing,” social media is overflowing with information, including the creative ways that many of your favorite businesses are staying connected with customers and developing innovative product and service offerings.

“Engage Art is creating art kits for our projects that can be bought over the phone and picked up at the studio or delivered, with no direct customer contact,” says Melissa. “We’re also moving our retail business onto a Facebook group that allows us to publicize items for sale and arrange sales over the phone for pick up. And we’re using the downtime to work towards an Etsy shop for online sales, which is something we’ve wanted to do for a bit now to expand beyond a local audience.”

4. Keep supporting your favorite local businesses through continued purchases

Challenge:

While some businesses are alright in the short term, longer-term prospects are difficult to predict. By continuing to support them today, you’re making an investment in their future viability.

Ways you can help:

Whether online or during limited vendor hours, try to find ways to keep supporting the businesses near you. Even those with short-term purchasing bumps in the early days of the health crisis may face business challenges down the line.

“Cibao is in an industry that accelerated in these early days as people stocked up on food,” says Heinz Vialuf, Jr., owner of Cibao Meat Products. “The way to help going forward is to keep buying our products – and most important of all, take care of yourselves and stay safe and well.”

We’re here to help

If you own a business and need help now or in the weeks and months ahead, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have financial resources, experience and information to share and we look forward to helping you get through these uncertain times.

Best wishes, stay well and know that we’ll get through this together.

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