There are over 30.2 million small local businesses in the US, and COVID 19 has caused many of them to be shuttered. The same question is on everyone’s mind “when will things get back to normal?” More information about local businesses has been researched in the last two months than any other time.
Consumers are searching for information about local businesses hoping to find the services that they need and what the plan is moving forward. Unfortunately, for many businesses, reopening may take a while, but for other businesses, it has been business as usual.
What Information About Local Businesses Are You Looking For?
Whether you are a happy camper or an unhappy camper when you are looking for information about local businesses really depends on which type of business you are inquiring about. Social distancing capabilities play a tremendous role in which businesses have been able to stay open and which have not.
For example, you need your lawn taken care of, that is an easy one, lawn mowing can be done outside by a single person that you never have to have contact with. On the other hand, if you are looking for home remodeling contractors to install a new kitchen, you may run into trouble finding a local provider.
Landscaping, is very doable, but when it comes to having someone in your home, that may not be the best choice. Social distancing can be very hard to maintain when you have workers in your home.
Safety has to be a priority for everyone, many businesses have shut down because they can not guarantee the safety of their employees. Anyone that has searched for information about local businesses and actually got on the phone can tell you to expect long wait times because many call centers have shut down.
Six feet may not seem like a lot of space, but as an employer when you have to place every employee six feet away from another employee it can be impossible. It can be difficult for a small locally owned business to invest in the materials and the space that they need to keep everyone apart.
The Essential Businesses
Many businesses have been deemed essential which can bode well for you if you are looking for information about local businesses to get car repairs or a vet check for your pooch. For example, auto body repair shops are essential. Other car care shops are also considered essential, even a used car dealership is essential.
There is actually a long list of stores and businesses that are considered essential that likely never shut down including:
- Grocery stores, as a matter of fact, any store that sells food remained open. This includes dollar stores and retail giants like Walmart.
- Gas stations have remained open.
- Home improvement stores and hardware stores have remained open.
You may not be able to get a doctor’s appointment but Fido certainly can, veterinary services have stayed open, but typically will send someone out to the car to pick up your pet. They are not letting humans in the door.
When Can We Expect Things to Return to Normal?
It is very likely that things will not go back to the old normal until a tried and true vaccine is developed. In the meantime, things, like searching for apartment rentals, or hosting a party at a restaurant, is going to look very different.
For example searching for an apartment right now may mean never actually entering the apartment until move-in day rolls around. Many real estate companies are taking clients on virtual tours instead of meeting them at the property in person.
If you are searching for information about local businesses that have anything to do with wedding venues or restaurants and bars since they are the last scheduled to open, you may not be able to find anything other than take out options.
Restaurants, bars, and other venues can be very difficult to maintain social distancing which is why they will be among the last to open. Many states have lifted the brunt of the bans, and if you are lucky enough to live in those states you may have already noticed the things are slowly reopening.
Normal is going to look a bit different for a while, maybe longer, maybe normal will not be back as we know it. Luckily people are getting creative and finding a way to open up and meet the needs of consumers.
Businesses Have Gotten Creative
When you are searching for information about local businesses you may be surprised to find that some businesses have gotten really creative with their business model including:
- Changing their services to something completely different. A couple of restaurants across the country have begun selling groceries to supplement their income. One creative restaurant even offered a free roll of toilet paper with every order.
- Some businesses have added additional services. For example, moving companies have started picking up bulk trash items and started hauling it off.
- Event planners have started websites and become coaches to help other people learn how to plan an event.
Flexibility, innovation, and a desire to keep the cash flowing have really changed the way a lot of local businesses are doing business. Consumers are finding solutions to their needs in places they never thought to look.
Supporting Local Businesses
It is important that communities stand together and support the local businesses. When you are looking for information about local businesses, don’t get sidetracked and go to one of the big-box discount places, stay the course, and you will find exactly what you need locally.
As the face of how we do business changes give your local businesses a chance to meet your needs. Supporting local businesses is vital to the local economy. When you support your local business you are:
- Putting your money back into the local economy. Local business owners live and work where you do and they spend their money in the local area.
- You get to help your neighbors build a thriving business that is good for the area.
- You likely will have a much more personalized experience.
Supporting locally-owned small businesses is good for everyone. It may seem easier to head to the big-box discount store, but you certainly will not get the level of customer care that you will get from local owners.
Online All the Time
Information about local businesses online may not be factual. A lot of time when you search for information about local businesses unless you know the specific name of the business, you are going to get a lot of generic information returned.
While many local businesses are not going to come to your door, they have come up with ways to deliver their services without contact. The way to initiate the services typically starts online. Knowing the name of the local business that you are searching for can be a big help.
Sometimes you have to reach out through email to get a business owner’s attention. Even if the business seems closed you may find that they are offering limited services that can meet your needs if you send an email and ask.
For Your Own Safety
This can be a frustrating time without a doubt but keep in mind that even when businesses are fully reopened things will be different. You may have to wait on a line before entering a store if the store is crowded. It may take longer to get the services that you need as everyone else is rushing to get the same services.
All of the frustration and waiting is in the interest of your own safety. Social distancing is one of the best ways to keep the virus from spreading. Until a vaccine is developed that will protect people from the virus, a business cannot be as usual.
It is hard not to search for information about local businesses without pulling up the protest news. In almost every state that has refused to lift the stay at home orders there have been protests. Local business owners want to get back to work as soon as possible which is igniting protests around the country.
The protests have been largely peaceful and are simply a way that local businesses are ensuring that their voices are heard. In all likelihood, those states that have stuck to their guns and refused to lighten the restrictions will continue to stand by their convictions.
Retail outlets (that do not sell food) have it a bit easier than restaurants, pubs, and gathering spaces because they can offer their products online. Restaurants, pubs and gathering spaces do not really have the option of selling their products online and they are starting to really feel the pinch of months with their doors locked. Even the restaurants that are offering take out only are suffering financially at this point.
Unfortunately legislators have tough decisions to make. On one hand, they want to protect public health, on the other hand, they want to protect a barely hanging on economy. No one is sure what the right answer is.
The Painful Truth
The economy is really struggling and unfortunately, information about local businesses looks bleak. The talk about bouncing back after the pandemic has quieted down quite a bit as more and more local business owners just cannot see how they will recover.
How much longer can these businesses hold on? That is anyone’s guess. The feds signed the CARES act, which includes a payroll protection loan plan, which unfortunately ran out of money during the first week of applications.
There were accusations that the money that was to be loaned to small business owners went to corporate giants like the Los Angeles Lakers and other entities. The feds blamed the banks, the banks blamed the borrowers, and so far only a handful of businesses have given the money back.
You can imagine the frustration of the mom and pop shop on main street USA that has put everything that they have into their business only to be taken out by COVID 19 and the poor oversight skills of the federal government.
Will things get back to normal for local businesses in 2020? There are predictions that say that by June 1 most states will be back on track or really close to it, of course, there are also naysayers that are predicting a second wave of outbreaks in the fall. Where does that leave the local small business owner?
Some predictions are dire when it comes to what will happen to the majority of the 30.2 million small businesses in the US. Some economists predict a recession that makes the recession of 2008 seem like a practice session. They also predict that many of the local businesses will not be able to sustain the storm.
If You Are a Local Business Owner You Can Survive If You Do These Things
If you are on the other side of the counter and are a business owner there are things that you can do that can help you weather the storm including:
- Get innovative. Start selling off your excess stock. If you own a restaurant consider selling frozen meals online. If you are in the service industry consider changing your services to meet demand.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Government loans are not free. You do not want to put yourself so deeply in debt that you just cannot get out of. Take what you need and nothing more.
- Partner with other area businesses. Brainstorm with companies that complement your own business to come up with services that pack a one-two punch for consumers.
Even if you have been doing the same thing for 30 years, change can be a good thing at this time. If you cannot provide your regular services because of social distancing than consider other services that you can offer. It will help to keep the doors open and help you to come out on the other side of this whole.
Both consumers and local business owners that work together and support the community that they live and work in can get each other through this.