Keeping Main Street alive after lockdown liberation
With casualty rates that are still unknown, small businesses are as vulnerable to COVID-19 as their human owners and employees. Before the coronavirus tsunami flattened national economies all over the world, there were over thirty million small businesses in the USA, employing some sixty million people – close on half the nation’s entire employee workforce.
Long acknowledged as the backbone of the USA, small businesses reflect the up-and-at-’em spirit of its earliest settlers. In fact, with small firms accounting for an overwhelming 99.9% of all companies in the USA, it’s clear that these mini-enterprises are vital for the well-being of our communities.
In fact, nine out of ten firms have fewer than twenty workers, and over 25 million businesses have no paid employees at all. Driven by the dreams and skills of their entrepreneurial owners, these mini-businesses are found in almost every sector, creating wealth for their communities. From auto repairs to yoga classes, these dynamic business owners keep communities alive and their Main Streets thriving.
Often handed down from generation to generation, these small businesses are the most severely affected by lockdown regulations. A recent (April 2020) survey confirms that small business owners are trapped on the horns of a dilemma: if they don’t open soon, they have no income and no way of paying their bills. But even when open, bankruptcy can still loom in just a few months.
What lies ahead?
Known as business churn, just over 10% of employer firms close their doors in a normal year, counterbalanced by a similar percentage starting up operations. However, with lockdown hitting small service businesses particularly heavily, these figures could be very different in 2020. Notoriously hard to obtain, even PPP loans are widely viewed as merely sandbagging the dam wall during a cloudburst, unlikely to underpin longer-term operations.
As and when small businesses reopen, will their clientele return? Will customers be able to pay? Will products have the same appeal or might be buying habits change drastically? Right now, nobody knows. However, there’s a constructive way out of this gloomy situation – and it lies in our own hands: Buy Local.
Communities caring for their own
Supporting local businesses means keeping communities alive. This is why Countryside Heating & Cooling Solutions is running its Shop Local initiative. By purchasing gift cards from local restaurants and beauty parlors, loyal customers can help their struggling neighbors, while investing wisely in future maintenance for their homes.
How? Because the value of these Shop Local gift cards will be deducted from customers’ next Countryside service. This is the creative but respectful way that the Countryside family has chosen to support its customers, their families and their communities.
As a family firm, this is how the company is thanking all the loyal customers who have supported them for over forty years, by channeling this support back to other local businesses forced into temporary shutdown.
Forty years of community outreach
With a track record of community involvement that stretches back through four decades, Countryside Heating and Cooling Solutions know that taking good care of its neighbors is also good business practice. Currently spotlighted through its Shop Local campaign, this proactive attitude is also mirrored in its Nominate a Hero Today initiative that honors local heroes in very practical ways, through installing home heating or cooling system prizes in their homes.
Handed down from father to son, this heart-warming approach to business is still followed by new co-owners Lance Schumacher (who took over from his dad Craig in 2014) and long-term employee Jason Storm. In fact, close on half of the Countryside staff have been on the payroll for almost fifteen years, reflecting traditional values and strong links throughout the community.
Promises of better times ahead
Why not brighten the days of quarantined friends and relatives with promises of post-lockdown treats, like a delicious meal, relaxing massage, smart mani-pedi, or professional haircut? After months of sheltering in place, they’ll appreciate these encouraging reminders that the world will soon be opening up again.
So if you want to make sure that your Main Street emerges intact from lockdown, you can help local businesses survive these tough times through Countryside gift cards. And if there’s any other way that the Countryside family can help your family, call the company anytime at (763) 479-1600.