We are in the middle of a crisis.
There are all kinds of famous quotes about how people react to crises – about how people and society change, important elements of life become more clear, or how nothing is really learned in the midst of a crisis, the learning comes afterward, looking back with 20/20 vision.
All of these observations are true of crises that have come before us, the thing that inspires me most about the reaction to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the amount of good people can do. From neighbors being a touch friendlier and more helpful, communities cheering on our first responders and front-line healthcare workers, to the delivery drivers of all stripes following new rules while pressed into service to keep households across the nation running at a reasonable clip – there is good in the world, and it is everywhere.
That good extends to the business world, in which budgets, staffs and workloads have been reduced and business owners are reeling from ever-changing regulations while trying to maintain a sense of purpose – oftentimes a sense of place – in this brand-new landscape. There are four distinct pivots businesses are making due to COVID-19: cutting down on non-essential costs, budgeting for immediate or long-term marketing tactics, focusing on great experiences for current customers, and empathizing with clients who need immediate solutions.
This fourth point is most intriguing to me, as focusing on finding a good solution to any problem has the potential to create a defining moment for any business, of any size. Across the country, businesses are seeing needs in their own communities, and are working to fill those needs the best way they can.
Feeding the Community
Many restaurants are donating food to out-of-work community members, front-line workers, first responders and healthcare providers who are finding themselves without time to grocery shop or cook meals.
The Mac’N food truck here in Fort Collins frequently offers family-sized trays of their original macaroni-and-cheese for free to households in need, and they recently delivered single meals in to-go containers to the healthcare workers at Poudre Valley Hospital. While they have received donations from the public more recently, their efforts were started organically as they worked to find ways to fill their days and give back to the community.
In New York, Dig Food Group saw an immediate need to work with local farmers, who are no longer able to sell fresh produce to restaurants that had closed their doors. The owners created the Dig Acres Farm Box, which allows them to distribute produce from their suppliers directly to customers, filling the need for people to stock up on fresh produce and giving the farmers a new outlet for sales.
Mac’N post from April 30, 2020.
Using A New Formula
The distilling and brewing industries have taken a similar hit, as craft brewers and distillers have closed their tasting rooms due to COVID-19. In addition to offering curbside pickup of crowlers filled with craft suds or bottles of ready-to-pour cocktails, many breweries and distilleries have modified their operations.
Distilleries across the nation have added hand sanitizer to their menus after an initial buyout left stores incapable of keeping it in stock. In the Fort Collins area alone, there are about a dozen distillers and breweries either stocking hand sanitizer on their shelves or donating it to those who need it most – first responders and healthcare workers.
Supplying the Front Line
Manufacturers and research institutions all over the world have joined forces and are working toward physical and medical solutions for the virus. Here in Colorado, Woodward Governor has partnered with the Colorado State University Energy Institute to produce life-saving ventilators that have been so in-demand since the COVID-19 outbreak hit the United States. The cooperation resulted in a design in review by the FDA, for production at Woodward’s Fort Collins headquarters that will be ready for delivery in a matter of weeks. Scientists at CSU are on also working furiously on COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research, in cooperation with universities around the globe.
Not all businesses have the ability to make these kinds of pivots in unique circumstances, and not all business models are easily adaptable to making drastic changes on the fly. Those that are able to move quickly to help community members adversely affected by stay-at-home orders or the virus itself, or supply healthcare providers and hospitals with what they need, create a situation for themselves in which their brands and missions are permanently changed.
My hope for all of us as we look back on this crisis with that 20/20 vision, is that we recognize not only that we were up against an incredible force, but also that we see how much good there is in the world – and the quantity has permanently increased.
Jenny Fischer, Digital Director
While Jenny prefers to meet up over a cup of coffee or pint of beer in person, she has absolutely embraced the Zoom happy hour phenomenon – and absolutely looks forward to the days when hugs are permitted and beers are consumed on patios with friends.