Are we starting to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel?
I think so. But it will be a slow road ahead, for many.
Several businesses in Bruce County have been reaching out to 519Web for assistance in getting online. Deborah Clarke, Owner of 519Web, PinPoint Local is striving to make the launch of each new client website ‘routine’. Read to the end of this story to learn more about why.
‘It’s always a pleasure discussing business strategy with forward-thinking entrepreneurs and small business owners.” says Deborah Clarke, owner of 519Web, PinPoint Local in Kincardine, ON. “During times of crisis the cream always rises to the top. Those small business owners who have used this time of business disruption to prepare for the next stage of growth in their business will not only succeed, but may advance their business in many positive ways through this.”
Reflecting on Clarke’s experience working with many small businesses in Bruce, Huron and Grey Counties throughout this pandemic, she adds:
The first business shut-down
(March - May 2020)
The first business shut-down (March – May 2020) caught small business owners’ off-guard, for most who were running their businesses at full capacity, this was a major blow. Nothing had ever impacted their businesses like this, and they had no control. In shock, most rallied around how to help their employees, staff and simply cover their month to month expenses. Almost in disbelief it was happening, most didn’t do much planning beyond meeting their immediate day to day needs. Most focused on eliminating expense wherever possible. At this stage in our business, [519Web, PinPoint Local a digital marketing agency],we witnesses businesses cancelling plans to expand their presence online, or postponing plans to rebrand or update their websites and social media. Business dropped significantly for us in this first few months as businesses put everything on hold.
“Canada marked the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a global pandemic. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose in the House of Commons Thursday and said March 11, 2020 will always be marked by a before and an after.” As reported by The Globe and Mail Canada.
By the second business shut-down ...
At 519Web, PinPoint Local we started getting almost panic calls from small businesses in the area wanting to get their businesses online. Many were still thinking for the short-term, not necessarily believing their business model may be forever changed. Requests came in for:
• online checkout to make prepayment easier for easier curbside pick-up or no contact porch drop off deliveries; or
• ways to display their goods online, so customers knew what was in stock to call / email or text in their orders; or
• desperately wanting their business to show up in searches for their products so they weren’t invisible in the online marketplace.
We had a super busy fall 2020, you can imagine the near panic as businesses were trying everything to capitalize on Christmas sales and online spending.
The new year, 2021 ...
The new year, 2021, started slow and cautiously for most businesses. Some revelling in a strong 4th quarter of 2020 … others still struggling to keep up with what was appearing to be long-term CoVid-19 protocols for their businesses. Even within 519Web, PinPoint Local we were content to take a breath and move a little slower Jan-Mar 2021 coming off a very busy Sept-Dec 2020.
It was during the 1st quarter of 2021 we started seeing more businesses taking advantage of local, provincial and federal small business support programs. The beginning of a new year is often the time small business owners take time for reflection, many use this time to plan their new year, a new beginning, a new focus for their businesses. We had Bruce County businesses engage with us through online webinars and one-on-one zoom meetings thanks to the Business to Bruce Economic Development Training, Events and Webinars Program. Replays of many of these webinars can be found online through their LEARNING RESOURCES:
Learn how to set up a Google My Business listing: Watch the live recording here.
Businesses seemed to be getting back into a good space, planning, seeing customers again, looking forward to a more positive future, gaining more and more normal activity . . .
Local Area Farming and Wholesale Businesses Who Got Online During the Pandemic
An example of some local area farming and wholesale businesses who got online, or upgraded their online presence during the pandemic, each with their own niche markets:
Coastal Coffee Company
(Kintail Rd, Goderich, ON)
Ben and Bri Gingerich are passionate about sharing their love of coffee with Ontario’s West Coast. Whether you are enjoying a cup of crazy fresh coffee at a local farmers market, purchasing beans from a retail outlet or stopping by the roastery for a tour or tasting, Coastal Coffee cares about offering an unparalleled experience in every cup.
Annette and Brian MacKenzie: “We believe that you should know where your food comes from. We offer Farm Gate Sales of meat and eggs raised right here on our 200+ acre farms. We also produce premium maple syrup and maple products from our 60 acre maple bush. We are dedicated to providing our customers with quality products that honour our heritage and showcase our innovative spirit.”
(St. Helens Line, Lucknow)
(Currie Line, Belgrave)
Tamara and Brian: “We hope our food helps you become Firmly Rooted” Firmly Rooted is Huron County’s First 4 Season, 100% Organic Vegetables, Small Scale Farm. We are passionate about growing healthy food for our community, using environmentally responsible growing practices that honour the wisdom of nature. We primarily serve Huron County and we grow our food specifically for our community. We believe everyone should have access to healthy foods that they are excited to eat.
Then it happened again … ‘wack’!
’stay at home, businesses closed’
Third Business Shut-Down
(Apr 8 - Jun 5, 2021)
By this third business shut-down (Apr 8 – Jun 5, 2021), more than one year after the 1st lockdown … ‘the declaration of emergency and province-wide Stay-at-Home order, in response to the third wave of the COVID-19 variants, are in effect as of Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.’ issued by the Province of Ontario
To many small business owners it felt like a slap across the face, ‘wack’, closed again. At 519Web, PinPoint Local we had businesses ready to launch their new websites, new beginnings and they went ahead of course … while working in a modified business ‘norm’ they were still able to reach customers, take orders and continue with business albeit not business as usual.
Two examples of local area businesses who launched in this 3rd shut-down in the Kincardine area are:
Cottage Country Designs (Southampton, Kincardine)
Amanda Thede, owner of Cottage Country Designs, is a home design consultant and project manager. Amanda knows how overwhelming and stressful it can be thinking about a new project, let alone getting the ball rolling. Many clients she has worked with felt stuck with less than ideal spaces because they just didn’t know where to start or how to transform their vision for their space into reality. That’s where Amanda comes in! She is expanding and growing her business midst this 3rd shutdown into the Kincardine area!
Shawna Small, has owned InStyle Hair Studio in Kincardine for 20+ years. She is a perfect example of a progressive small business owner, who has seized this 3rd CoVid Stay at Home order to take her mature business to the next level. Read Shawna’s Story in The Kincardine News Here.
InStyle Hair Studio
Service Businesses - Personal Care Salons Hit Hard
Hair Salons, Barber Shops, Nail Salons, Fitness Clubs
Personal Service businesses got hit hard during the pandemic with three shut downs that, in each case, kept them closed longer than most businesses.
Here is a closer look at a hair studio that has been in operation 20+ Years in Kincardine, Ontario and how 519Web, PinPoint Local has helped them to rebrand and revitalize their business ready for reopening after the 3rd shutdown.
Shawna, owner of InStyle Hair Studio in Kincardine grabbed the bull by the horns in the 3rd Stay at Home Order and has used this time to revitalize her business. Shawna and her stylists worked some late nights in the last few days when the 3rd stay at home order was announced to get as many of their clients taken care of as possible. (Deborah knows first-hand as she was one of Shawna’s late, 10pm Friday night appointments ahead of the current shut down.)
Tired both emotionally and physically, as owner of the hair studio and as someone who is looked up to in the community as a successful 20+ year business owner, Shawna knew she needed to rally some energy to prepare for a renewed enthusiasm to go back to work in the studio … for herself, her stylists, her clients and her community.
Shawna reached out to us at 519Web, PinPoint Local to help her with a revitalization strategy for her business.
• With a complete in-studio makeover planned (new colours, logo update, new furniture, paper, paint). Shawna had the goal of bringing the outdoors in, to compliment the vibrant outdoor lifestyle enjoyed by visitors and residents living along Lake Huron shores.
• To compliment her new brand, in-studio and online we prepared a brand new website to tell her story and to showcase her business:
When you visit https://InStyleHairStudio.ca you will find a safe, secure environment as an extension of their in-studio experience.
REBRANDED FOR COMFORT and to be WELCOMING TO ALL:
• Unisex appeal, for their 50/50 men & women clientele
• Attention to colours, furnishings, accessibility
• Acknowledge their L’Oreal Professional Salon status
• Promote their family of stylists many who have been with her 10+ years
• Promote their vast line of products available in studio so clients can use the same professional products at home to maintain their look, as their stylist uses in the hair studio.
EDUCATION and SUPPORT
• InStyle Hair Studio has always made it their mission to educate their clients as well as provide cuts, color. So “InStyle Insights” was added to their website to continue providing up to date information, trends and information about hair care.
EASE OF CONTACT
• Most people search for business phone numbers and hours of service from their phone. Now Instyle Hair Studio can be searched and found and with one click you are calling the hair studio. That was easy!
SUPPORT OF COMMUNITY
• Now everything is connected. Website, all Digital and Social Media, so as InStyle Hair Studio continues to support community projects it will be easier for everyone (not just clients) to follow them.
Read more about Shawna Small’s revitalization story in the Kincardine News – Read More Here
In Summary | "Routine"
- Because after 2020 and the CoVid-19 Pandemic turning our world upside down, which was anything but routine … she was craving for some routine in her life. (but that hasn’t happened)
- Because “routine” is a great word, Clarke tells a story about a lesson learned from her husband and daughters “… who all love playing baseball, and whenever any of them made an amazing catch, hit a home run, or got on base or made a great play, in any cool fashion … their response would be, “routine” with a smile. I want those memories forever … doing amazing things and making them feel ‘routine’.”