The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are continuing to unfold, for individuals and businesses. It’s impossible to fully prepare for an event as unexpected and disastrous as this one—just a month ago, it was impossible to imagine businesses shutting down operations and governments confining citizens to their homes. The economic effects and forthcoming recession cannot yet be predicted with certainty, but most businesses aren’t waiting around to see what happens next.
“If you wait to accept how things have changed you’ll be so far behind that it’ll be impossible to make up the ground.” – Sterling Snow, Senior Vice President of Revenue at Divvy
Businesses in all sectors are finding ways to adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19, and the results have been both creative and impressive. Ingenuity will prove vital in coming days and weeks for keeping small businesses alive in the age of coronavirus.
By and large, the strategy adopted by businesses around the world is one of flexibility. Responsiveness and a willingness to pivot has been key for businesses constantly assailed with new regulations and recommendations. Businesses have learned to adjust hours, consider additional services, provide for social distancing, and set up employees to work-from-home. Particularly inspiring are businesses offering their customers increased leniency like extended deadlines, deferred payments, halted evictions, discounts, and more.
“We’re making it up as we go.” – Craig McVeigh, restaurant owner adapting to COVID-19
Nearly every business has needed to turn to their online presence to find opportunities to keep bringing in customers. Whether your region is merely practicing social distancing, or has a mandated shelter-in-place due to coronavirus, the reality is that local businesses have been hammered by drastically lower foot traffic and suppressed spending.
One example of affected businesses adapting to COVID-19 by getting online is virtual class offerings. One Tae Kwon Do studio in Watertown, NY began offering virtual classes for their students six days a week. This not only provides a way for the business to continue profits, but maintains a connection with existing clients and may even attract new clients as the quarantine measures continue and individuals are looking for home fitness and entertainment options.
It’s no surprise that restaurants in particular have been devastated by the gathering restrictions necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, most restaurants have rapidly adapted to the requirements by finding ways to offer the contactless service that customers need right now.
For restaurants in areas still allowing the dine-in option, reservations are down more than 50% in some areas and the restaurants are implementing increased sanitization measures and limiting staff contact. Regions that have shut down dine-in options have seen restaurants quickly manufacture drive-thrus and curbside pickup options, as well as increasing their takeout and delivery services.
According to Yelp, food delivery service is up 95%
Services like DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats, and others are working overtime to manage the demand for delivery and now offer contactless dropoff of orders for safety. Surge pricing and increased fees have been observed, but some companies like GrubHub and UberEats are responding by dropping fees or cutting their own commission.
Around the nation, “panic buying” surged as coronavirus began to spread, causing issues at grocery stores and online retailers. Social distancing recommendations also affected public places for gathering, such as restaurants, movie theaters, and stores.
Applying limits in these contexts has helped businesses maintain order and protect the health of employees and customers alike. Big box giant Costco has become an epicenter for the chaos, but imposing limits on critical goods (toilet paper, milk, sanitizing supplies) as well as limiting the number of individuals inside the store has mitigated the risk of coronavirus transmission and calmed some of the initial panic.
Many businesses are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to develop stronger ties to the community. One example is a local Utah pizzeria that began offering free lunches to children who wouldn’t have access to school lunches due to quarantine shutdowns. The goodwill and increased visibility can make a difference for struggling businesses now and hopefully in the recovery phase after coronavirus declines.
“I’m not a doctor, I can’t help people get better, but I can feed people, and I think that’s important for us to do.” – Chad Pritchard, owner of Fat Daddy’s Pizzeria
Applying for small business grants and loans
With the recently signed stimulus package, the CARES Act, businesses can turn to the Small Business Administration for emergency grants and loans to help bridge them to the other side of the coronavirus crisis. These grants can be used to improve small businesses or expand in ways that will help them better adapt to the current economic climate under coronavirus. We’ve created resources to learn more about small business grant & emergency loan options and how to apply for SBA disaster loans.