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Illustration of business functions

Be a Partner to Small Businesses During COVID-19

There are no small problems for small business customers. Almost any mistake in hiring the right employees, picking suppliers or choosing the right business structure can have devastating results. There is simply no room for error. So, when a pandemic like COVID-19 hits, small businesses are in a fight for survival.

A utility company may be considered a supplier for a business, but energy actually represents a relatively small share of a company’s monthly expenses. Business customers are certainly concerned about maintaining power without interruption. They may be disappointed by deferred utility maintenance or canceled meter upgrades due to social distancing. They would appreciate efficiency tips that lower their energy bill or increase their indoor air quality (and employee health).

However, based on Questline’s content performance metrics, these are the most pressing concerns for small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak:

  • How to protect employees who can’t work from home. Some employees have threatened to boycott work if necessary personal protection equipment is not provided, even if that equipment is in short supply.
  • Finding and applying for small business stimulus funds. Small businesses need help understanding and applying for funds available from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act.
  • How to keep cash in hand. Loss of revenues due to the pandemic is severely squeezing cash flow.
  • Finding new ways to deliver your service or product. Social distancing is keeping people out of storefronts. Delivery services need to be modified to meet social distancing requirements.
  • Managing people who work from home. This is a new paradigm for many small business owners and managers. There needs to be a balance between trust and accountability for remote employees.
  • Calming employee fears. Almost everyone fears the unknown. Food shortages, social distancing and job layoffs were not on the horizon a few months ago.
  • The right way to handle staff furloughs and cutbacks. Letting employees go is one of the gut-wrenching outcomes of tough economic times.
  • Cybersecurity for remote workforces. Many small businesses have just started achieving cybersecurity in the office. This just made the job harder.
  • How best to serve and help those in your community. The local community depends on the benevolence of small businesses during good times. With cash in short supply, companies and organizations need help being creative in community service today.

Energy utilities can position themselves as a small business partner, not just a supplier. Your business customers need to trust that their utility has a vested interest in their success. Proper messaging can go a long way in achieving those goals — just make sure you feel their pain and address their most pressing concerns.