Hackernoon logo5 Small Businesses Give a Masterclass in Community During COVID-19 by@jessicathiefels

5 Small Businesses Give a Masterclass in Community During COVID-19

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@jessicathiefelsJessica Thiefels

Founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting

Connecting with your community is a vital part of building awareness, trust, and loyalty. While this is always challenging, COVID-19's socially distancing has made it harder than ever. However, some small businesses have taken customer connection—both digital and in-person—to the next level despite the struggles that a global pandemic brings. 
The creativity, ambition, and resilience of these five small businesses provide a Masterclass in community connection. Take note of these inspiring stories so you can learn how to connect with your community, no matter the circumstances.

1. iHeartRaves Brings the Festival Lifestyle to People's Homes

With social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders, large events are too dangerous to hold. Brandon Chopp, Digital Manager of iHeartRaves, explains how their organization has been hit hard: "Our eCommerce store is in a very challenging position because we sell fashion items to attendees of music festivals." 
In a situation like this, it could easily seem impossible to maintain business and foster their thriving and colorful community with festivals being shut down, but iHeartRaves found a solution.
"We created a #RaveFromHome series which has been very successful and is a direct response to the virus outbreak," Chopp explains. "Every Friday, we deliver tips for raving at home and ways to pass the time in style. We include Spotify playlists that our team has put together filled with some of our favorite feel-good dance music. We also include shopping deals and discounts." 
Part of the thrill of festivals is sharing your fashion looks with others, something iHeartRaves is still encouraging, despite the shelter in place orders. Chopp says: "We feature some of our customers who use our hashtag #RaveAtHome. Customers tag us in their living room dance parties, at-home photo shoots, dance moves, and light art skills." 
Lesson: Bring yourself into the community, even if you can’t be there.

2. SERVPRO Is Serving Those Who Serve Others

First responders and front-line workers are the undisputed heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Giving back to them (and keeping them safe) is a how SERVPRO is connecting with and supporting local communities. CMO, Michael Stahl, explains: 
"We've had SERVPRO franchise owners throughout the country offering to disinfect and sanitize emergency vehicles and other facilities being utilized by front line workers like police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and more. The majority of these services have been offered at no cost as a way to give back to others on the front lines, protecting us all from this pandemic."
This is a practical, helpful, and compassionate way to forge deep connections with your community. As Stahl says," We believe we are all in this together, and offering this service is just one way we can help take care of our own during this trying time." 
They're also already planning how they'll continue to stay connected once their communities reopen. Stahl says, "Moving forward, our teams are working with various small businesses in their communities, such as restaurants, retail stores, and more, to offer our ‘Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned’ certification to give customers peace of mind that the facility has been deep-cleaned and sanitized."
Lesson: Don’t just connect; support.

3. College H.U.N.K.S. Is Helping Domestic Violence Survivors Find Safety

While stay-at-home orders are universally challenging, for those living with domestic abusers, this time can be a literal nightmare. College H.U.N.K.S Hauling Junk and Moving has found a way to react to rising domestic violence cases in their communities, as Erin McDermott explains: 
"College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk and Moving is partnering with shelters in the communities they operate in and offering free services and assistance to those needing help escaping dangerous living situations during this time."
Not only is this a powerful service for the people within each franchise's communities, but the organization is also spreading this service to communities across the US. "With 135 franchises across the country,” they’re hoping “to reach as many potential victims as possible.”
Lesson: Leverage your “boots on the ground” teams to connect with communities far and wide.

4. WikiLawn Is Using Their Tech To Keep Their Community Healthy

With so many things changing during COVID-19, business-as-usual isn't possible for many companies. While WikiLawn helps clients find lawn professionals quickly, when COVID happened, the need for this service was minimal. Instead of backing away, WikiLawn's President, Dan Bailey, explains how their company pivoted to answer their community's needs:
"A few weeks into the shutdown, we started talking about how we could use our site's tech to help. We built a small, free app that people could use to quickly find testing centers in their area."
Not only did this result in the improved physical health of the community, but it’s also helping their mental well-being, too. "I believe we helped a lot of people achieve peace of mind," says Bailey. That kind of positive connection will bring you long-lasting customer loyalty.
Lesson: Use your tech for good.

5. South Block Is Keeping Their Community Fed

Food is one of the many ways communities connect, and with restaurants scaling back, that connection could be lost. But South Block is not only working to keep their staff safe, they're helping to heal the community as well. 
Founder and CEO, Amir Mostafavi, tells how their nonprofit, Fruitful Planet, is connecting with communities. "South Block is donating a portion of money from all juice sales to families in need, and has already donated 6,000+ lbs of fresh fruit to children out of school (and without school lunches) in the last two weeks alone,” says Mostafavi. 
They're also aiding those on the front line. "South Block is donating it's infamously immune system-boosting ginger shots to local hospital workers on the front lines of fighting COVID-19."  South Block also announced the opening of a nonprofit cafe to help even more.  
Mostafavi explains, "100% of all proceeds made at Fruitful Planet Market & Cafe will go directly towards Fruitful Planet, turning every cent made over towards local farmers, schools, and other nonprofits donating fresh fruits & vegetables to those in need."
Lesson: Use what you have to give the necessary supplies to your community.

A Small Business Masterclass in Community Connection

Even in isolating, trying times, these companies have managed to go above and beyond, reaching out to others an supporting their communities. How can you find a way to connect, support, and heal the communities where your business operates?

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