There are a lot of things going on in the world right now, but the Coronavirus outbreak seems to be overshadowing all the rest of it. That's not surprising. The outbreak has changed the way the world works and how things are done. It's also really hurt a lot of businesses, because they simply aren't able to stay afloat with some of the restrictions that are currently in place.
Companies are changing the way they do things, partially out of necessity and partially because they want to stay safe and stay in business, at the same time. It's not always easy for companies to remain successful during a financial crisis, and the pandemic is definitely causing a lot of monetary hardships for people and companies all over the world.
For people who want to help their local businesses succeed, there are some easy things that can be done to help. Those might involve a small change in routine, but in some cases will just involve continuing to support places you already go. Here are 13 great but simple things you can do, so businesses in your local community can make it through the pandemic.
When you buy gift certificates or gift cards from local companies, you not only help the economy but you can give those cards to others and encourage them to go there, as well. Someone who goes there to use a gift card might continue to go there on their own, because they like the place or had a good experience while they were using the gift card you gave them.
You don't have to spend a lot on gift cards to make a big difference, and if a lot of people in the community buy just a few smaller cards the amount of help the business gets can really add up. You can choose a few small ones and hand them out to friends and family, or give them to your customers if you also operate a local business that's not competing with the other company.
Companies can stay in business more easily when they have good reviews, because a lot of people look at those reviews when deciding whether they want to work with that business or a competitor. Especially during a pandemic, economic downturn, or other difficult time these reviews can be crucial to bringing in more customers and allowing that company to keep moving forward.
If you don't have anything nice to say about a business you've interacted with, it's better to just not review it at all so the business can keep helping other people. Unless there's something bad about the business that other people absolutely need to know for health or safety, for example, don't write reviews during this time unless you can write good ones that will help the business succeed.
If you bought local before, don't stop doing so during a time that's stressful for business owners in your community if those businesses are still open and selling to the public. Some companies may have to modify their hours or how they do things, but most of them are still available and selling goods or services because they're trying to get through a complicated financial time.
A lot of people turned to online shopping when their local stores closed, but many of those stores were still available to customers -- just not in quite the same way as they might have been before the pandemic hit. Check with local companies to see which ones have online options, appointment-only shopping, or other methods of staying around that you can use to support them.
If you had reservations to do something in your community or you planned a stay-cation that was going to include a lot of interesting things, don't give up on those things just because of the pandemic. Instead of canceling your events or plans, ask about rescheduling them for a later date when everything should be more stable and you can go out and have those adventures.
While there's still no specific time limit for when the pandemic will end, things are starting to reopen around the country and eventually almost everything that closed down will be back to normal operation. If you move your activity instead of canceling it completely, you're keeping your plans and also helping to keep a business afloat while it waits for better days to arrive.
Sometimes refunds are completely justified and necessary, but sometimes they're asked for just because someone was a little bit dissatisfied with the kind of product or service they received. If you don't really need a refund for a product or experience that was extremely bad, don't ask for one during a time that businesses are trying to survive a global health and financial crisis.
There are times when it makes complete sense to get a refund, and some companies may even offer one voluntarily if they know they've missed the mark, but it's helpful to them to give them some extra leeway right now. If you really feel you've been wronged, consider asking for a discount or some type of non-monetary compensation, instead of requesting a refund.
Instead of ordering your groceries from an online shopping site and going out of town to get something to eat, buy your meals from local restaurants and use local grocery stores and produce markets to make your purchase. By supporting them you help them stay in business, which means other people in your community can also get their food from them, as well.
Depending on the size and type of community you have, it may be easy to get local food or more complicated, but it's important to use local companies and produce markets if possible, to help everyone out. When you and a lot of other people go out of town or order online, smaller businesses that rely on your business might have to close their doors for good.
If anyone asks you where you bought something or had something done, make sure to refer them to a local business that helped you accomplish what you needed to during the pandemic. The person asking the question might not even be aware of that particular business, and wouldn't know to visit it for their needs unless you let them know you'd recommend it.
You can also recommend a local business even if no one is specifically asking, by posting about the great experience you had or things you bought on social media or talking about them with friends. That could lead someone else to start using that business, too, and the company will get a much-needed boost during the pandemic and beyond.
Servers and anyone else who relies on tips to make up at least part of their living are in a group that's having particularly serious financial difficulties with so many service-related businesses closed or modifying how they do things. When you tip a little extra, you help make it easier for people in these kinds of jobs to meet their financial obligations and make sure their bills get paid.
You don't have to hand over outrageously large tips to make a person's day a little better, since it really adds up to a lot when each person just gives a little more of a tip for the service they receive. Tipping extra can also do more than help financially, as servers and others who rely on tips will also feel more appreciated for working during a pandemic and putting themselves at risk.
If you've been putting off a project around your home, now is the time to hire a local handyman, contractor, or other professional to get the job done while you're home from work to supervise and explain what you'd like to have completed. Local people need work, and a lot of contractors aren't busy right now so it's an ideal time for you to reach out to them for your needs.
You might find that you can save a little money by doing things now, too, because contractors are looking for work. Shop around to see if you can get a good deal on something you'd been planning to have done anyway.
Any local business you like or appreciate could be shared on your social media pages so other people know about those companies and what kinds of goods or services they have to offer. Even if you haven't done business there in a while or you shop there infrequently, sharing their information is a great way to encourage other people to shop at that same place, too.
You don't need to make your social media into an advertisement for local businesses, but it's not hard to like and share something that comes up in your own feed. That way the company gets more exposure, and it's easy to support a company you like and believe in.
Some companies are going to be closed during at least part of the pandemic, simply because it's not safe for them to be open. But a lot of those businesses will have online options for you to choose from.
If a business you like can help you shop with them online, there's no reason to stop using that business just because you can't go there in person for a while. You can just buy the same things you already do, and get them online for curbside pickup or even shipped right to your door.
Your gym membership and other subscriptions to things around your town are probably suspended. To help out, you can keep paying them to support businesses that you know you'll be going back to in the future.
It doesn't cost any more than you'd normally be paying, and places like gyms may offer online classes in place of regular workouts. That way you'll still be getting something for your money, and you're helping a local business, too.
If you have a little extra, why not donate it to a local business or charity instead of spending it on something else? When you donate you let the community know that you care about the companies and the people that make up that local network of neighbors and friends.
You want those companies and people to continue to be successful throughout the pandemic and beyond, because they're your neighbors and they have businesses you'll want to go back to when all this is over. There are always ways to help those companies be more successful, and donating your money or time to them can be an important part of that.
By being mindful of the ways you can help local businesses, and encouraging others to do the same, you can give your community's companies and individuals a much-needed boost during a difficult time. It's easy to throw around phrases like "we'll all get through this together," but that's actually pretty accurate.
When people work together for a common good, everyone benefits. You can help local companies and your neighbors and friends by focusing on ways to assist your community during a difficult time. When the pandemic ends, the companies you and others around you helped out will still be in business, and you can continue to buy from and work with them. It's a winning situation for everyone involved.
By: Lee Preston
Lee is the Director of Marketing and Promotion for EZstorit.com. When she is not working with our storage facilities partners, she is writing about topics that affect our daily lives.