The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated millions of businesses across the country. As a real estate agent, there’s a lot you can do to help local businesses get back on their feet and push forward.
When Texas opened up our nail and hair salons, I eagerly scheduled my appointments. The day I went into the nail salon, I was surprised to be the only one there.
What the salon’s small business owner has faced during the coronavirus pandemic is happening to millions of other businesses. She was soldiering on alone because her four employees refused to return until their unemployment benefits ran out in two to four weeks.
While her salon was closed, her husband was furloughed due to a COVID-19 outbreak at his plant. She was unable to pay her electric bill, and her electricity at home was turned off. (The turnoff violated both state and federal guidelines.) She was also turned down for an SBA loan for not being a citizen (even though she was) and, as a result, had no way to pay her rent.
Like other business owners, she didn’t realize there were other options for dealing with her situation. For example, she had been doing her business and personal banking at the same institution for over 15 years. Rather than going for an SBA loan, she could go to the bank and ask for a $5,000-$10,000 business loan to get through the crunch.
Another option was asking her landlord to defer her current rent for another four to six weeks, and then pay back the total amount over the next six to 12 months.
Local business owners need your real estate expertise and problem-solving ability now
Your problem-solving ability, coupled with your knowledge of real estate and lending practices, can help local business owners navigate through this crisis, whether or not they own their own home.
For example, a search for “The electric company turned off my electricity during COVID-19,” generated a long list of sites that could help the salon owner.
For those who are struggling to make their mortgage payments, educate them about forbearance, plus the services available through HopeNow.com that include access to a HUD mortgage counselor.
How you spend your money now matters
Business owners need money now. If you can afford it, and it’s safe to do so, take as many steps from the list below as possible.
- Buy locally rather than ordering online from stores outside your area.
- Ask if the businesses you frequent have a package (with a possible discount) where you can prepay for three to five future services. This puts much-needed money in the owners’ pockets now.
- Leave a big tip. Every little bit helps those who are struggling.
- Schedule a special sit-down meal at your favorite restaurant.
- If you have missed a routine checkup or have a lesion, lump or other issue that needs to be looked at, schedule a telemedicine appointment now. Not only will you help your local medical professionals and hospitals stay in business, early detection can save you from two even bigger killers — cancer and heart disease.
- By the same token, schedule your regular cleaning and checkup with your dentist. Catching problems early prevents bigger, more expensive problems later on.
- Schedule your HVAC spring service.
- If you have a roof leak, plumbing problem or some other home repair that needs attention, address it as soon as possible.
- Take your pets in for their regular shots and vaccinations. If Fluffy isn’t feeling well, contact your veterinarian, and don’t forget to take her to the groomers as well.
- Does your car need servicing, a tire rotation or a car wash? Get it done now.
- Did you have to temporarily discontinue your cleaning service, gardening service or pest control service? If so, return to normal service as soon as possible.
- Is there someone who would appreciate flowers from your local florist, a wonderful pastry from a local bakery or gift from a local gift shop? If so, give that gift now.
5 post-COVID-19 marketing campaigns to support local businesses
Greg McDaniel put together five different marketing campaigns that support local businesses and give back to your community, while also helping you grow your real estate business. McDaniel does a deep dive into each of the five campaigns on this week’s video.
1. Pets and pizza
McDaniel is working with a local pizzeria and a no-kill shelter to provide at-cost pizza and to get pets adopted. The idea is to encourage people to “grab some pizza and maybe a pet!” A portion of the proceeds is donated to a local food bank.
2. Use your normal marketing budget to do a 1-to-1 match with a local business
Whether it’s a bakery, a vacuum repair shop, local specialty market or some other small business you frequent regularly, you can do a 1-to-1 dollar match to a preset limit. Schedule a specific date and time, and promote the event. You can increase matching dollars by having your team or office join the effort. Proceeds go to a local food bank or other charity.
3. Volunteer your superpower
What did you do before you became a real estate professional? For example, if you were a police officer, you could offer to conduct a free risk assessment of where people’s homes may be vulnerable to break-ins. If you were a contractor, you could offer to do small home repairs for those who are unable to do them. Chances are, you’ll be surprised by how many people take you up on your offer.
4. Expert ‘how-to’ series
Interview people in your database whose knowledge can help others you know. For example, you could invite a lender to talk about forbearance or perhaps have someone who makes pottery do a 30-minute Zoom interview on pottery-making basics. Feature a different interview every week.
5. Local business booster campaign
Have four to eight local business owners do a Zoom video with you, especially if these businesses complement each other. Each business can offer a coupon with a code so you can track results. Ask each business owner to spend $5 a day ($35 total) to boost the video on their Facebook business page. The ripple effect of each business reposting the video and boosting it every day can be substantial.
The actions you take may be the tipping point that determines whether a business survives or goes under. Do what you can and, as the law of reciprocity shows, the help you give to others always comes back to you.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.
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