woman delivering groceries to another woman with masks on
From opening ahead of schedule to taking the business virtual, these businesses are offering helpful and creative solutions to meet the needs of their customers during COVID-19. — Getty Images/freemixer

Excellent service is always about responding to customer needs. Here are six businesses finding creative ways to do so, despite the difficult times.

Cleverdale Country Store

Meghan Cesari’s seasonal market near Lake George, New York, wasn’t due to open for the season for another two weeks, but her customers had concerns about venturing into crowded supermarkets. In response, Cesari stocked up and opened Cleverdale Country Store in mid-March.

An early opening was not the only adjustment Cesari made. As the store’s fifth season kicks off, no customers are being allowed inside to shop the aisles of unique, locally made goods. All orders are being taken over the phone, for pick-up or delivery. By instituting these changes, Cesari has been able to keep her four employees on the payroll and provide a much-needed service to her community.

Joann Fabrics

In many areas of the country, craft and fabric stores have been forced to close along with other non-essential businesses. This, just when parents have kids at home to entertain and crafters have more stay-at-home time on their hands.

Joann Fabrics is continuing to supply consumers through its curbside pick-up program. Customers who purchase online will not pay a delivery charge if they drive to the store to pick the order up. Once at the curb, customers call the store, give their order number and an associate brings the order to the car.

Blue Dragon Karate

Karate Master Jeffrey Asuncion is on a mission — to help his students gain confidence and lead a healthy lifestyle. When coronavirus shut down his Blue Dragon Karate Academy in Matawan, New Jersey, Asuncion wasn’t about to abandon that mission or give up on his students. Instead, he took his classes digital.

By logging into Zoom from their homes, Master Jeffrey’s students can stay connected to their coach and their classmates. His students have barely missed a beat, as they stay in shape and progress toward their individual goals.

Dan Martini, VP of Congressional relations and public policy for the American Bankers Association, discusses how to diversify your revenue streams during the coronavirus outbreak/ — National Small Business Town Hall, held on April 3 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Inc.

Retailers have been asked to provide an essential service, while keeping both their customers and employees safe.

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18 Lumber

To keep the building trades moving, material suppliers have remained open for business. Retailers have been asked to provide an essential service, while keeping both their customers and employees safe.

For family-owned 18 Lumber, in East Brunswick, New Jersey, the solution is to keep the glass storefront between employees and customers. Contractors call in orders — oftentimes from the parking lot — and pay over the phone. Paint and hardware items are bagged and placed outside for the customer to retrieve. Lumber and other building materials stored outdoors are loaded by the customers themselves. Any needed assistance locating the correct product is provided by yard employees from a safe distance.

Road Runner Sports

Road Runner Sports is not a gym, but that isn’t stopping the company from helping customers stay in shape. The athletic footwear and apparel retailer is offering online training to a customer base missing its favorite local workout spot.

In addition to free delivery and an online size finder, the company’s website offers videos by Trainer Chad, advice on staying in shape and links to free workout apps.

Honey Brook Organic Farm

When COVID-19 forced the closure of their Pennington, New Jersey farmer’s market, Sherry Dudas and her husband Jim Kinsel knew they had to regroup. Their Honey Brook Organic Farm had fresh produce and specialty food items for sale and their customer’s still needed good nutrition.

In mid-March, Honey Brook stepped up its web presence and began taking home delivery orders for boxes of fresh greens, eggs, meats and organic grocery items. The service is new and growing, with deliveries currently being made weekly to the central portion of the state.

Despite the difficulty of the times, responsive businesses are identifying their customers’ changing needs and offering solutions.

For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

  • Check out the U.S. Chamber's Small Business Loan Guide.
  • To help you manage your business through the coronavirus crisis, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created a toolkit for businesses and a customizable flyer for businesses to communicate their coronavirus efforts to customers.
  • For more information pertaining to your specific location, you can find your local Chamber of Commerce here.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has created a full list of programs providing financial assistance to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. You can find that here.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published April 07, 2020