August 12, 2020
Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, CO—
Small businesses have been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic. Many have had to shift their operations and find new ways to meet their customers’ needs while also maintaining health and safety protocols — all while sustaining their growth in order to survive.
“No matter how much we adapt and evolve, things are changing all the time,” said moderator Jeanette Mulvey, executive director of content strategy at CO—. “None of us knows what tomorrow is going to bring in terms of our health and regulations.”
Mulvey spoke with Tom Mueller, vice president of client experience at ADP Small Business Services and owner of Broadway Baker, about how businesses can manage this constant uncertainty. Here’s what he had to say.
Staying Connected and Building Your Network Is More Important Than Ever
“We know the uncertainty is here, and it’s not likely to change anytime soon,” Mueller said. ”So, I think [the most important thing] is really staying connected to your customers and really watching the behavior as time goes [on]. Everyone has a different comfort level, and that comfort level will change over time.”
So how can businesses stay in touch with their customers’ shifting needs, and how can they constantly pivot based on that to sustain their growth?
“It’s building your network — you don’t have to do it alone,” he explained. “It’s leveraging your local chambers, the economic development groups within your state and county, as well as connecting with other businesses.”
Mueller used this strategy in his own business, Broadway Baker: “[We] created a community of small business owners that are going through this, whether we connected with some on the food side where we’re local, but we also partnered with gyms, hair salons [and] nail salons.”
“[This helped us] really get a sense of … the creative ways that everyone is trying to react to it,” he added.
Connecting with other local smaller companies offered valuable insights into how they were creating more online or at-home offerings, making adjustments in their physical space to improve health and safety, and advertising to encourage people to come out.
“Ultimately, [the uncertainty] is not going to go away,” Mueller said. “So it’s figuring out how [to] keep ahead of it as much as you can, but [creating] that network.”
Despite the tall order of managing ever-changing customer needs and adjusting operations accordingly, small businesses have adapted and overcome these challenging circumstances in incredible ways — including forging connections with each other.
From the Series