Texans are adjusting to social distancing, the governor is moving to reopen parts of the economy, and the healthcare system is working overtime to ramp-up coronavirus testing and treatment. Businesses in Texas─which has the 2nd largest population in the nation─are meanwhile utilizing a range of strategies to deal with the historic impact of COVID-19.
Engaging with Customers
Owners and managers are pivoting to digital business models that allow them to engage with customers while maintaining social distancing. They are boosting their online presence and making sure that their websites are fully equipped for e-commerce. They are also focusing their marketing efforts on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. With customers quarantined at home, that kind of connection and interactive engagement is especially easy and effective. It also gives businesses a meaningful way to communicate with the families and communities they serve, working cooperatively to get through tough times together.
Business associations are also using online tools to host and scheduling special events. The Greater Houston Partnership’s COVID-19 Houston Business Forum, for example, is a digital series of informative teleconferences. In early May it featured an expert from the Baylor College of Medicine, sharing tips and best practices for workplace safety and industry-specific reopening guidance. Many other similar resources are being taken advantage of by business owners. Those are available online through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Economic Development Council, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the Texas Travel Association, to name just a few.
As restrictions on business closures begin to relax, businesses are each making their own careful decisions. Safety measures are being deployed such as limiting the number of customers inside stores, providing markers to help people maintain 6-foot separation, and plastic shields between cashiers and customers or restaurant booths. Some businesses require employees and/or customers to wear masks, and store hours are being adjusted to allow time to thoroughly sanitize and disinfect. There are also businesses that have adjusted their product lines or delivery systems. Restaurants have found that they can sell fresh produce and other staples. Breweries or gift shops may make and market hand sanitizer. Consultants, attorneys, fitness trainers, and other professionals are working with clients virtually, via platforms like Zoom.
Texas is Uniquely Resilient
Approximately 24 percent of small businesses across the United States, including more than 400,000 in the Lone Star State, are now closed due to the pandemic. But Texas has been consistently ranked as one of the best places in America to start and operate a business. So in many ways it is better prepared to deal with this crisis. Two professors, from the business schools at Rice University and Texas A&M, recently cited key reasons why they predict that Texas businesses will survive the pandemic. They cited a diverse workforce, a generous spirit of giving back, and the agility needed to quickly adapt. They also noted that during this crisis companies are emphasizing safety first, and are supporting work-from-home strategies. Those can help keep employees safe while helping to ensure that business activities continue, despite the obstacles.