Steps businesses can take during the coronavirus pandemic were discussed by Whitney Quick, regional director of the Better Business Bureau of Cape Girardeau, in a Zoom meeting Friday morning sponsored by the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce.
BBB’s goal has been to help businesses build trust during this time.
In the “disruption life-cycle,” we have gone through the two stages of shock and disorientation, Quick said. We are currently in the “command mode where we are taking charge of business, family life, and adjusting as each new development comes along,” she said.
In this mode, we:
1. Take care of ourselves.
2. Ask for help.
3. Stay informed.
4. Support our local businesses.
5. Look for integrity.
6. Don’t be fooled or scammed.
To take care of ourselves, we need to eat well, get exercise and plenty of rest. We can ask for help when we need it. To stay informed, we need to check reputable news sources and limit our exposure to social media as much as possible to avoid negative situations, Quick suggested.
To support local businesses, Quick recommended the following:
1. Buy a gift card for future use.
2. Leave a positive review on BBB.org, the business’ Web site or Google reviews.
3. Like and share local business social media pages and specials they offer.
4. Refer a friend to a local business.
5. Volunteer to clean, organize or set up online fundraisers.
6. If an event is cancelled, consider turning your payment into a donation instead of asking for a refund.
7. Share new ideas you see from other locations and industries.
8. Tip generously.
9. Say “Thank you” and appreciate people’s efforts.
Many local businesses are going above and beyond to help the community during this crisis. This shows their integrity.
“This is something that we need to pay attention to,” Quick said, “because we are all going to remember how businesses treated us and how we treated businesses during this time.”
We should report bad behavior to www.bbb.org, Quick said.
Bad behavior includes price gouging, passing off inferior products as real (such as selling masks as N95 rated when they are not), misleading consumers about benefits (claiming a product will prevent or cure COVID-19), inciting fear and panic to increase sales, and canceling services (such as utilities or gym memberships) for non-payment.
Scammers are thriving in this environment because people are isolated and scared, Quick said.
Some fake stimulus checks are being sent through the mail. They should not be deposited. No one should pay anything or fill out any forms to get a stimulus check. If people have questions about phone calls, e-mails or letters claiming to be from the government, go directly to IRS.gov.
Don’t respond to fake government grants. If you get a request for a Small Business loan, go directly to the SBA site instead of clicking on a link. “Government agencies do not typically text you or contact you on Facebook,” Quick said. If you have to pay anything for something that’s “free,” then it is not free.
Don’t text “Stop” or “No” to unsubscribe to unwanted e-mails or calls. Doing so lets scammers know your contact is legitimate and it will be put on a list and sold to other scammers.
Be wary of filling out surveys on social media. Often they contain typical security questions, such as maiden names or pet names, and scammers use them to create fake profiles.
“So what do we do now?” Quick asked business people. “We work on building trust during this period. Be honest. Be transparent. Have integrity in all your actions. Our message is simple. People are going to remember how they felt during this time about you and your business. So do what you can to make that positive.”
A video recording of this event can be viewed on the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.