I’d be remiss to not write this memo about the Coronavirus and yet I’m not going to go into whether it’s just the flu (like some say), over or under reaction, or if people should wear masks to bed. I do know the virus has a longer than normal life of being alive, spreads super-fast through our easily traveled and networked world, and that’s what’s concerning people So, let’s cover what it’s doing to people like you and me, i.e. business owners and executives.
The headlines tell us the airline industry, cruise industry, and therefore related businesses like hotels and suppliers are having problems. But what about small businesses, that I really feel for? Here are a few examples:
- Restaurants – we went out with friends last weekend and a restaurant I’d expect to be full on a Saturday night was maybe at 75%. The Jersey Mike’s sub shop in Kirkland was on social media reminding people they were open (so come on in). Pagliacci Pizza sent an email out about their health and cleanliness policies, i.e. come in for some pizza, we’re okay.
- Catering – this is an industry hit hard. Two owners told me about all the events being cancelled (one is more concerned about her employees not getting hours and pay than anything else). KIRO7 did a segment on how devastating it is for caterers. My Rotary club, like many others, has canceled at least three meetings. I feel sorry for the staff who won’t be working those days.
- Product companies – a client is worried about the big industry trade show at which they exhibit because many of their customers are from overseas, and probably won’t attend, and see her new products.
- A good friend owns a video production company. All their jobs in March and April sans one cancelled in the last couple weeks. Wow!
Alternatively, I was in five retail places over the weekend and they sure didn’t seem to be suffering from a lack of shoppers and a person on a call Monday said he was calling from a jammed packed coffee shop.
All over the media is the recommendation from government to have employees work from home, if they can. Easier said than done I say, having had a home office for over 20 years. It takes time to realize you’re “at work.” I used to have a quarterly breakfast with a business friend and when he started working from home he told me how hard it was to stay away from the refrigerator.
Last week a business owner said she has some people working from home and estimates they get done about 70% of what they get done in the office. And, we’ll find out if having certain people work from home improves or damages culture.