Broomfield Chamber of Commerce

Local Business Takes on the Supply Chain Crisis

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

The troubles with the supply chain are daunting. We’re seeing predictions that the holiday shopping season will be marred by empty shelves and disappointed children. While the problems are serious, there are some businesses that will triumph in the face of adversity, and this very well could be the best holiday season for them yet. If you are one of those fortunate businesses, it’s time you market the benefits of shopping with you for the holidays.

The supply chain issues are affecting restaurants, stores, and other merchants who rely on pieces and parts from other vendors and manufacturers from across the country and the world. But local artisans or restaurants that rely on locally grown food may have a significant advantage this holiday season.

Marketing Tips for the Holidays

If you are a business that is removed from the larger supply chain, it may be time to get the word out. While some box stores are expecting empty shelves in certain departments this season, you can be fully stocked and ready to help shoppers. But they won’t know unless you tell them.

1. Let them know you are ready with “the goods.” People don’t know what to expect from supply chain shortages and they don’t fully understand the ripple effect. They may assume that if a large chain store is out of something, so are you. Make sure they know you’re fully stocked with holiday delights.
2. Use this as a chance to highlight the awesomeness of local. Without offending those who are struggling with supply chain issues right now, this is an ideal opportunity to highlight yet another benefit of shopping local.
3. Offer local delivery. If you’re able to cover the cost and man hours, consider offering local delivery or pick-up options. People tend to buy online and from box stores because they don’t have to leave their homes to do it. But this year, even reliable delivery services are having issues now (and we’re way ahead of the holiday shipping rush). Tout the reliability of your deliveries and pickups.
4. Use bags and tags. Consider creating your own stenciled shopping bags or gift tags that mention this gift was made locally and selected by someone who cares. This messaging will be carried around town by your customers and attached to gifts making a big impression on a larger audience.
5. Work with your chamber on a shop local campaign playing up the value and availability of items made locally. As understanding as shoppers may be that everyone is in the same boat, they are tired of hearing COVID as an excuse. If your local business can help make a few holiday dreams come true, it will have a big impression on your future customers. Speaking with the chamber is also a good idea if you’re a business that is struggling with supply chain. Your chamber may know of local businesses that can help you with new stock or items/services to get you through the season.

Finally, if you’re doing a great job marketing and advertising the benefits of shopping with you this season, consider extending your business hours to accommodate last-minute shoppers and those who work in another town during the day. Some potential customers may avoid shopping locally because they figure local businesses close before 5.

Some local businesses may have the advantage this holiday season. If you’re among the fortunate that’s not disrupted by the supply chain, these marketing tips can help you have the best season ever.

Three Solutions to Common Hiring Problems

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Some businesses are saying we are in the midst of a secondary pandemic. But it’s not the kind that requires masks and handwashing. No, this one is harder to control.

There is a dearth of people willing (or able) to work for a multitude of reasons. Employers across the country are posting signs asking for patience with their existing employees because the business is understaffed. In fact, there are hiring managers who are scheduling interviews only to have no one show up! You can’t hire people who don’t even come to an interview.

So what’s a business to do?

Some people blame the business. They believe that the average person wants to work but can’t afford to because of minimal wages and expensive childcare. But the numbers don’t entirely speak to that. 30% of US households are “married without children” in 2020. Single-person households are 23% of the population. So for over half, children aren’t a concern.

So, what can you do to combat the 3 common hiring problems these days? Here are some ideas.

Employment Hiring Challenges Post-COVID
If you brush wages aside as the main reason people don’t show up for interviews or first days for that matter, what are you left with?

Working from Home
It’s the elephant in the room. Why would a worker want to work behind a counter when they can sit at home and work (or sit by the pool or in a coffee shop, etc.). An unparalleled number of businesses created work from home scenarios, and many will stick to those protocols long after COVID. Work at home is no longer a perk. It’s an expectation and it’s hard to compete with that.

Solution: If your business is entirely in-person, it’s not like you’ll never be able to hire again. But it may take some creativity to appeal to workers. Things you might be able to do include flexible shifts (such as working around a child’s schedule) or floating start times within a window of time. The clue here is to get creative with the allowances you can make.

Ghosting Is the Norm
Ghosting has become the norm in relationships. Don’t want to deal with a difficult situation, ignore it and disappear. We’re starting to see this trickle down into our workforce. It’s acceptable to just not show for an interview, first day, drug screen, etc.

Solution: This is difficult to do when you’ve only had minutes of interaction with a candidate. However, people are more likely to ghost when they don’t feel a connection or don’t think of the employer as a person but rather a large corporate structure as in the “they won’t even notice I’m not there” scenario.

In order to avoid being ghosted, you have to do your best to connect with them in the short time you have. Share details about your life. Maybe you’re interviewing them on a special day and “fitting” them in or “clearing” your schedule. Do it respectfully and don’t force the guilt but try and make an impression. You may still get ghosted, but it will be less likely if they see you as a person with needs and feelings.

Reevaluating the Same Old, Same Old
With our forced downtime this past year, we were exposed to a LOT of marketing messaging and frankly many people are just burned out. They may find it hard to believe the claims of some companies.

Another thing people may have done is reevaluating things in their lives that just aren’t working. Some people may have decided that life is too short to work at an unfulfilling job. Others may have seen this pandemic as a kick in the pants from the universe to start their own job. Maybe they saw how being a loyal employee can still result in a lay-off or furlough. Whatever the cause of their employment ennui, people have changed, and you’ll need to too.

Solution: find out what your existing employees want (and what makes them stay with you). Use that in your job marketing. Ask employees for referrals. Reward them for their loyalty and they’ll talk about how great you are to their friends.

Employers are facing an unparalleled time right now, finding it very difficult to recruit good people. For many businesses, it’s difficult to get interest let alone keep someone after their first day. In order to be competitive in the job market, you need to stand out. These tips should help you do that. But you’ll need to go beyond them to think of some creative experiences for new employees. While you’re at it throw a few in for your customers. You never know. A loyal customer may just want to become part of your team.

How to Revive Connections with Former Customers

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

It happens. People buy from you and they love you. Then life gets in the way, and they don’t return. Sometimes it’s because they no longer have use for your products or services like when you sell gourmet dog biscuits, and they no longer have a pet. Sometimes they moved out of your area, and you don’t offer e-commerce options. Most often though, your business has simply slipped their minds. It’s no longer on their radar or part of their buying habit. It wasn’t something you did. They just have other things going on.

In these cases, you need to reengage them and bring yourself back to top of mind. Here are a few ideas on how you can do that.

10 Ideas to Reengage Past Customers for More Sales

Selling to previous customers is easier than winning over new ones. It costs less and because they’ve given you their money once—unless they had a terrible experience—they are likely to do it again…once you pique their interest.

Here are ten ways you can get them to pay attention to you again:

1. Send to your list. If you have a past customer list, use it. Send out an email (or mailer) telling them you miss them. Offer them a discount, BOGO offer, or free gift (or upgrade) with purchase to bring them in the store again.
2. Host and market an event. Invite people whose past buying history matches your event.
3. Share pictures of past customers (if you have them) and invite people to tag themselves on social media.
4. Start sending out email newsletters or launch an email nurture campaign.
5. Utilize digital retargeting through Facebook or Google so your ads are shown to people who have visited your site.
6. Post pictures on Facebook of your items and tag the items with cost and description (this is a nifty feature on Facebook).
7. Ask people to share pictures of themselves on social media with whatever they purchased from you.
8. Ask funny questions (or tell stories) involving your product or services on social media. For instance, if you’re a plumber, ask your social media audience what they think the weirdest thing you’ve ever pulled out of a drain was and then tell them.
9. Create a Facebook group for past customers (if it makes sense for your product and brand).
10. Attend industry (or community) events. Nothing like the serendipitous meeting to get them thinking about you again.

When it comes to reengaging customers, it’s a lot like your other relationships. Out of sight can be out of mind. Even if you’re not out of mind, you need to spur action. If you want to increase sales, you must reconnect.

Improve Your Networking Results with a Four-Point Plan

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

If you joined the chamber to meet new people, grow your network, and get more customers, you’re on the right track. But do you have a plan to make the most of your time investment? If not, you need one.

There may be many reasons you’re interested in that networking event. First, ask yourself who it is you want to meet. Are you there for:

• People in your target market
• Vendors that provide services and items you need for business
• Partners or complementary service providers (partnering with the healthy juice bar when you’re a gym, can be mutually beneficial)
• Industry peers for a best practice exchange or referrals

Beth Bridges, the Networking Motivator acclaimed speaker and author of several books on networking, says “A smart networker never goes to a networking event ‘hoping’ to find a prospect. Instead, they will be ready to act on one of several very specific plans that they will have set in advance—or are ready to pivot to—if the event turns out to be something different than they anticipated.”

Here are two potential plans she suggests:

Networking Plan 1: Meet “The one.” If you know who is attending in advance, research and choose one or two people you must absolutely meet. When you walk in the door, tell the host “I am here to meet Pat Vang. Are they here yet?”

Networking Plan 2: Build social capital. Walk into the event with something to offer. An event invite (a private mastermind? an online speed networking event?), a line on a new business opening, or a great webinar (not necessarily yours!). Anything that gives value to other people so that you can build up your social capital with them for future use.

Which brings us to Beth’s third suggestion on how to make the most of your networking time. She advises:

Networking Plan 3: Get a referral or resource. If you don’t have a guest list for the event but know the audience type (i.e. CEOs, accountants, solopreneurs), hone in on a problem that type of person could solve for you with a referral or resource. When meeting someone, your intro remarks end with “I’m here to find someone who knows a good bookkeeper / copywriter / etc.”

But there might be something else you can take away from networking. How about a fourth plan of action?

There’s a group of people you might not be thinking about when it comes to networking. And yet, they may be able to shape your company culture and help you grow much faster than you would’ve expected.

The Fourth Person You’ll Want to Meet

Who are they?

Well, it’s different for everyone.

Networking Plan 4: Find a Solution. Think about the proverbial, “what keeps you up at night?” question. There’s a problem you’re likely struggling with. There’s also a professional, company, or industry out there that has solved your problem. Let’s look at an example from Henry Ford. He wanted to make cars more efficiently, so he instructed his employees to place the car parts in a line on the floor making them easy to access. While that reduced some of the time required, shaving a few hours off the original 12 it took to build a car, there were still hiccups. He thought there had to be a quicker way.

So, he studied flour mills, breweries, and meat packing plants (or maybe he went to a chamber networking mixer and talked to professionals from those industries; who’s to say?). By studying how they mechanized their systems, he used pieces/ideas from each and created the first moving assembly line for the mass production of an entire automobile. He reduced the time it took to manufacture from over 12 hours to one hour and 33 minutes!

With that change he could afford to produce cars for less, making them available to a greater number of people. This revolutionized not only his business but car production in general. All because he spent some time thinking about other businesses and their mechanization practices!

I recently talked to a rocket scientist (yes, really) who pulled methodologies from tech companies to learn quickly and fail often. He looked outside of his company to find a way to make his business goals attainable.

At your next networking event, know that there’s someone who has already solved the problem you’re facing. They may not be in the same business or industry but the lessons they learned are likely still applicable.

So, when you’re making a list of networking interests, think about the problems you face and strike up a conversation asking other attendees if they’ve faced the same. You may be pleasantly surprised by the insights and advice they can give you. Plus, that type of in-depth beginning conversation and sharing can lead to much deeper relationships down the line.

Four Things Your Business Should Continue to do Post-COVID

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina Metcalf

At some point COVID will be relegated to the same level of concern the flu gets every year. It won’t shutter businesses, alter family celebrations, and be the fuel behind contentious court cases.

Someday.

Let’s pretend we’re there now.

There are certain conveniences (and necessities) that businesses adapted during COVID that customers have become accustomed to. So, if you’re making plans for a “return to normal” you may just want to reevaluate what that looks like based on your customers’ newly developed expectations.

Delivery and Curbside Pick-up
Whether you serve food or sell non-edible items, people have become accustomed to sitting in their cars (or at home) and receiving their goods. Customers love the convenience, the fact that they can come as they are and not worry about what they look like, and can run errands more efficiently.

Delivery and curbside pick-up also save money (even with delivery fees and tips) when it comes to ordering items like groceries because it cuts down on impulse buys. To ensure they spend more, you’ll want to use an ordering system (or person answering the phone, if you take orders that way), that makes suggestions that they may also enjoy. Don’t miss the opportunity for upsells.

Working from Home
Many businesses that initially allowed working from home are calling people back in at the time of this writing. But in a highly competitive employment market, where there are more openings than interested applicants, you may want to think twice about requiring full-time in-office only work.

There are many cost savings in allowing employees to work from home. You may even be able to downsize your office space. And there may still be those people who want in-person work arrangements but not everyone will.

Don’t feel like you must decide between home or office. The best answer for your business may be a hybrid result.

Online Options
If you weren’t selling online before you probably are now. But even service providers who may have found it difficult to sell online upped their video, podcast, and content marketing strategies for greater online success.

If you embraced more digital marketing activities, keep it up. If you still haven’t, it’s (past) time. People want to interact with you at their convenience—and sometimes that’s after you’ve gone home for the day. Keep your business open (to them) with more online channels.

Giving People Options
We’re still working through this business lesson, but one thing that keeps surfacing throughout COVID is the idea that opinions should be respected and options should be given. No one appreciates being given orders, whether they are for their own good or not. Innovative businesses need to find ways to connect with customers on their terms. This is not a mask or no mask/vaccine or no vaccine debate. Those are details. This is about larger employment or customer rights.

Arguments over freedoms versus safety have brought up a lot of interesting discussions. Businesses should expect that while the details may change, the larger question about decisions and rights will echo well into the future. College courses will someday be taught on the subject. Innovative business owners may want to consider how these types of conversations will shape their organizations in the future from who they hire to what they request of them, from who they target from a marketing perspective to how they reach them.

COVID changed what we valued and took for granted. It has also altered business in many ways. Some ways are obvious, while others will become conversations that will continue far into the future.

What will you continue when COVID is but a memory?