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18 Jun

ME-Mag Editorial: From the President - Learn from your Experience

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In the midst of a pandemic, we must apply lessons learned to ensure the survival of our businesses for the future.
 
Experience is the best teacher—although the test is given first, and then the learning begins. Like many of you, I run a small business. The Mobile Electronic Association is considered a small business by any standard. We have just a few team members who do an incredible job serving you as a member of the association. Our mission is to educate, inform and empower you to succeed in your business. We do this not out of obligation, but out of love for the industry. That industry is you! Many of the calls, emails and messages we get from you relate to support you need to make the right decisions. For example, as a member, you may be using our point-of-sale software. As a result, you may need to know how to do something to improve your experience with that software. However, member inquiries for support go far beyond software. That’s what I would like to address now.
 
As your industry association, we are here to help. Over the past couple of months, we have answered your questions for a myriad of things. Lately the inquiries have focused in two important areas. How do I get the Paycheck Protection or Economic Injury loans? How do I create a safe environment for my team members as we seek to reopen or maintain our business in this new COVID-19 environment? While there are other inquiries, I wanted to take a moment and discuss these two.
 
Many of you had to make tough decisions recently regarding your business. You may have been forced to consider the possibility of going out of business. You had to consider the reality of furloughing some or all your team. You’ve had to institute new policies and procedures to create a safer environment for your team and your customers. As a business owner, these decisions were on top of all the normal pressures you deal with day-to-day just keeping the doors open. Adding to all these pressures, you have a personal life and family to consider.
 
Then comes the need. Regardless of your rainy-day fund, I have encouraged all of you to apply for small business assistance. That included having your team apply for unemployment insurance. My advice was not based solely on the financial strength of your business. It was based on an outside force (the government) making decisions that directly inhibited your ability and the ability of your team to earn a living. And for that reason alone, you and your business merit the compensation. I know that this can be a real confidence killer. Do not let your pride keep you from collecting what is rightfully yours.
 
Some of you have never had to file for unemployment benefits, and just the thought of it can be unsettling. Requesting a loan is also a tough decision. Again, some of you have never had to do this. Speaking directly to both of those issues, I will tell you this: You are not asking for help and you are not relying on the government for assistance. You are requesting compensation from the source of the downturn in your business. Think of it as your insurance. If you had damages, you would file a claim. The same rule applies. Do what you must to sustain your business.
 
As you do this, another issue arises. How do we go forward with the new normal, and what does this mean? I do not think any of us knows for sure. This is where our industry truly excels. We have gone through many changes and always find a way to continue. This challenge should be no different. There are a few things to consider, including the safety of you and your team, and the safety of your customers. Starting with what you can control, you should outline best practices for your business. Review the CDC and OSHA websites as well as your state guidelines and local ordinances. This will take a bit of time, but it’s necessary to know what you must do to remain in compliance. Once you are familiar, draft a plan of operation. Then communicate it to your managers to elicit feedback. With buy-in from everyone, share it with your team members. Support these efforts with visuals. For example, put specific guidelines in specific areas. The breakroom comes to mind. Limit access and have a process for cleaning. Another important area is the showroom. Locked and by appointment may be necessary. Make sure your team knows what to do, where to do it and executes the plan one hundred percent.
 
Then make sure your customers know you have put procedures in place for their safety. This is a marketing message and should in the short-term be over-emphasized. Make the message a positive one. Let them know you are ready to provide them with the best products and service to help them make the most of their summer drive-time. With your new normal in place, proceed with caution and make the most of every customer experience. As an industry, we provide great technology with professional installation. Deliver it with confidence, and do your best for everyone involved.
 
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Last modified on Thursday, 18 June 2020 11:18
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