Tacoma and Pierce County are hard at work to develop resources for local businesses.
On Monday, March 16, 2020 the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce (COC) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) for Tacoma-Pierce County co-hosted their first COVID-19 Business Response Webinar. These will be hosted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the foreseeable future to update community and business members of new information and resources available to local businesses. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with “COVID-19” in the subject line.
COVID-19 Business Response Webinar #1
The March 16, 2020 call included:
Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier started the meeting with commendations for Tacoma and Pierce County community members who have been working together to get through this coronavirus situation by helping each other. Bruce shared that he was out delivering donuts to local permit reviewers as he views it as essential to keep construction projects moving forward to keep as many workers working as possible. Bruce signed an order granting temporary suspension of the noise ordinance in unincorporated Pierce County which is important to allowing trucking fleets into the area for restocking of essential supplies. In a moment of humor, he stated it is his personal mission to keep Happy Donuts open after his purchase of 16 dozen donuts.
Mayor Victoria Woodards shared that the City of Tacoma is working closely with Pierce County to preserve as much of our economy as we can in these extraordinary times. She promoted the cities MakeItTacoma.org website with particular note of the COVID19 page which will include regular updates on resources from the City of Tacoma. She closed her comments with this admonition, “The Pierce County way is to do it together.”
Director of Pierce County Emergency Management Director Jody Ferguson stated that the business community is the heart of the county and her department is committed to supporting ongoing efforts. She noted that efforts are underway to set up a call center to help businesses navigate the SBA assistance process.
Gary Wescott, Pierce County Economic Development Department shared about developing resources in partnership with the SBA.
Coronavirus Financial Resources for Your Business:
COVID-19 Resources for Managing Employees
Don't Miss The Next Tacoma-Pierce County COVID-19 Call
There was an open format for questions and answers which the group addressed. The next COVID-19 conference call / webinar will include updates regarding state and federal resources for your business on Wednesday, March 18th, 10:30am - 12:00pm. US Representative, WA 6th CD, Derik Kilmer, will be on the call to share about new Washington State Department of Commerce and Small Business Administration resources available to support small businesses. Sign on to the webinar, questions can be emailed or messaged in to the group and will be addressed in the order that they are received.
While it is still difficult to get a firm grasp on what the extent of the implications of COVID-19 and what duration we can anticipate, it is helpful to have this level of access from those closest to the solutions. Tacoma and Pierce County representatives, along with business and community leaders, are doing their part to collaborate for solutions. These tri-weekly calls are a great way to keep as many as will participate updated with information and local resources. Stay informed and be a part of the solution.
Leaders have to make tough decisions, what happens when leaders delegate to someone like Dwight Schrute?
As we work together to create common sense responses to the COVID-19 situation, we can take a minute to laugh and learn from relevant situations that play out in the pop culture favorite TV series, The Office. In Health Care (Season 1, Episode 3), Michael Scott, defers his managerial responsibility to choose a health plan for the staff to his right hand man, Dwight Schrute. Dwight turns the opportunity into a power grab and cloisters himself in the conference room, posting a sign “Dwight Schrute Workspace.” Even though Michael is willing to delegate this important decision to Dwight, he will not allow him to call the conference room his office.
We like our narratives to have good characters and bad characters as we seem to derive some false sense of comfort in labels. Dwight may be perceived as the bad guy, but at his core he does his best to do what he is asked. In this instance he is being asked to put the company first, cut costs and choose a plan. Jim on the other hand, deflects the opportunity to be of assistance. Dwight goes to the extreme. When his peers review the plan that Mr. Schrute has chosen they are upset, noting that he cut everything. Dwight is proud of his decisiveness,
“What did I do? I did my job. I slashed benefits to the bone. I saved this company money. Was I too harsh? Maybe. I don’t believe in coddling people. In the wild, there is no health care. In the wild, health care is, ‘Ow, I hurt my leg. I can’t run. A lion eats me and I’m dead.’ Well, I’m not dead. I’m the lion. You’re dead.” - Dwight Schrute
When leaders delegate the tough decisions
People in a position of leadership like to use phrases like, “Delegate and elevate,” but as is observed in this episode of The Office, sending your responsibilities downstream does not create a good working environment. To delegate does mean to appoint another as your representative. By this definition Michael Scott, the manager of the office, did act in accordance with the definition. Unfortunately, too often, when someone delegates it’s because they have an assignment they don’t want to complete, such as cutting insurance benefits, and comes with zero preparation. If you process of delegating is to pass the mantle so someone else takes the heat, you are setting everyone up for failure.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as a five-star general, commander of Allied Forces in Europe during WWII, and the 34th President of the United States, is credited with a simple system for prioritization. It has been referred to as The Eisenhower Method (see image below), Box or Decision Matrix, but the basic principle is the same. In this matrix any person in a position of leadership must decide how best to use their most limited resources, time management. Author and coach, Lex Sisney adds some value insights in his article When Not to Delegate. His axis includes the decision between level of conviction and degree of consequences. When a situation is of high conviction and low consequence it is a great opportunity for a leader to delegate for the purpose of developing others.
Step up to the plate or don’t complain
Jim Halpert is often viewed as the voice of reason, or that person in the office who has the potential to be a leader, yet in this instance he deflects the responsibility. Obviously, Michael is putting everyone in a bad spot, but it is better to have a seat at the table and a voice in important decisions than it is to allow the Dwight’s of the office to direct the conversation. Dwight becomes the villain and yet the origins of this debacle are handed down from a corporate office that needs to protect profits and their solution is to reduce benefits.
The healthcare debacle starts when Michael’s boss, Jan, tells him at the opening of the episode, “You know the whole reason that we’re doing this, is to save money. So you just need to pick a provider and choose the cheapest plan.” Headquarters defers to executives who defer to managers and Michael defers to Dwight. Rather than fix the issue, the elites get the masses to fight among themselves. Jim complains about the result but he also stepped away from the opportunity to be a part of the solution. In our current situation with coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), we face the toilet paper apocalypse of 2020 where citizens are fighting each other to hoard products. There is still time to work together, take care of each other and be a part of the solution process.
This isn’t a TV show, it’s real life
The Office is fictional and yet so much of what makes comedy work is that there are elements of truth in the characters and the situations. If you watch the COVID-19 coverage or go to the grocery store, you can find Jans, Michaels, Dwights and Jims. Who are you going to be for yourself, your family and your community?
What is the government doing to help citizens and businesses impacted by coronavirus?
Remember, this is an unfolding situation and we should have some patience while everyone is working to understand and develop an effective response strategy. What have we seen with regards to any relief for the financial impact of coronavirus?
What can businesses do to help employees deal with COVID-19 burdens?
With news that schools will be closing in our area as a response to coronavirus, I am thankful that our kids are old enough that they don’t need constant supervision. My heart goes out to those families that will be impacted by their young children unexpectedly having to be at home for an extended period of time. News is unfolding where local communities are helping those most vulnerable with food, childcare and other essential resources. If you are able, contribute to local efforts.
If reducing interaction is a common sense approach to reducing exposure and slowing the spread of COVID-19, then working from home measures are one option to help this effort as well as develop business resiliency. Perhaps this situation will force many companies to experiment with remote work and in the long run, this may be a much better system for all involved. Working from home has many upsides. In the instance where an employee has young children who are now being forced to stay at home it may be a means of keeping business running while allowing team members to care for their families.
What can we do to help each other navigate this pandemic?
A pandemic means that the situation is global, the World Health Organization (WHO) has a chart which outlines the phase descriptions and actions during a pandemic. Their official statement from March 11, 2020, “Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.” For those who would question whether this is all being blown out of proportion, one thing to keep in mind is that we are in uncharted territory, “We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus.” The plan is evolving as everyone learns more about what we are dealing with.
Some awesome stories of generosity are emerging:
Most of the information we are receiving include common precautions that we should be doing regardless of this situation, but we are being made acutely aware of the need for measures such as:
We’ve assembled a panel of four industry professionals to help you boost your digital marketing efforts in 2020 and beyond.
January the first brought not only a new year but a new decade and we are off to the races once again. In the digital age when everyone is addicted to their phones and buyer trends are always changing, adaptation is a necessity. Many small business owners wear multiple hats which include the marketing strategy and execution. Our good friend Albert Einstein is often credited with saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
It turns out this quote may never have left the lips of the famed theoretical physicist. It may more appropriately be attributed to novelist Rita Mae Brown. Whether it came from an electric haired scientist or a character in a fiction novel from the late 1930’s doesn’t really matter. In the fight for survival in business, if we simply repeat what we did last year we will only accelerate our demise.
Making wise choices with your digital marketing investments
Digital marketing is confusing for many, including the pros. What makes for a viral hit is hard to pin down and yet we know that it is important to explore these advertising platforms if we want to grow our businesses. We reached out to four digital marketing professionals to ask their input on what small to medium sized businesses can do to become better sowers of seeds in the digital soil.
We all want to reap those bountiful harvests so I hope this exercise will be of value to your efforts in the coming year. While there is no secret sauce or magic bullet for digital marketing we know that we need to be intentional if we want to make progress in the process. Please note that this article is not an endorsement for any of these providers.
Seven tips for property restoration contractors from our panel of four digital marketing professionals.
Question 1: Optimization
The DYOJO: Everyone knows the term optimized, can you break down what that means in 3 sentences or less?
Top Floor Digital (Greg Power): In terms of SEO, optimized means that the content you publish can be found by search engines and be read by users. When referencing search engines, this means that the technical aspect of your website is crawlable by Google’s spider, and can be shown via a relevant search term. Content that is optimized for people is exactly how it sounds, easy to read and worth sharing to others.
Restoration Digital Marketing (Jeff Carrier): Optimized is when you construct/format your website to allow Google to easily crawl, index, and understand all the content on your website.
Dahl Integration Marketing (Eric Dahl): The process of enhancing a marketing campaign so it produces the best results possible.
Ironclad Restoration Marketing (Benjamin Ricciardi): To consistently improve the desired result you are looking for. Whether it is getting someone to follow your brand on social media or calling you about possibly using your restoration services as a result of finding your website on Google. For example, improving the graphics on a social media post, writing blogs on your website consistently or getting your customers to leave positive reviews on your Google My Business page.
Question 2: Too much or too little?
The DYOJO: Which is more common in online branding - not spending enough or spending too much in the wrong areas?
Ironclad Restoration Marketing: Not spending enough. Every year there is more and more competition online. There is more noise online than ever before and it's just going to get noisier, whether it's text messages, email, social media, Youtube videos, etc. You want to make sure you are positioning your brand in front of the people that need your services, in right channels, consistently! For example, you spend $100 on Google Ads, you don't get any calls and you give up thinking this doesn't work. That is not nearly enough of an ad spend to get enough feedback to see what is working or not.
Top Floor Digital: My self included, people spend far too much time drilling down on the wrong areas. It is easy to get lost in the weeds trying to come up with the perfect logo for your website, too much time spent on choosing a perfect font, etc..The same could be said about not spending enough time as well though, as branding for your business shouldn't be an after-thought.
Restoration Digital Marketing: Spending too much in the wrong areas. One unique thing with RDM is that we actually run and operate a restoration company in North Carolina. The reason we started RDM was that we had prior experience working with other third-party vendors that charged too much for the job and trying to sell services we didn't need. Luckily I had a degree in Marketing and knew which services we needed. Now at RDM, working with other restoration companies, I constantly speak with companies that are spending in areas they shouldn't be because a previous marketing company sold them on an idea.
Dahl Integration Marketing: Spending too much in the wrong areas. Specifically, awareness campaigns that don’t generate measurable results.
Question 3: Target audience opportunity
The DYOJO: Who do you see as a key target audience online that contractors are not focusing on?
Dahl Integration Marketing: I’d say a lot of contractors aren’t strategically retargeting the traffic to their website and landing pages, which is the warmest and highest converting traffic.
Ironclad Restoration Marketing: Search engines, especially Google. For example, think about the buyer’s journey for someone that has water damage in their home. One of the first things they are going to do is pick up their phone or go to their desktop computer, then do a Google search for "water damage restoration company in (city, state)". If your website hasn't been optimized for the search engines so that you are on the 1st page of Google for those qualified keywords then you lost to your competition who is on the 1st page of Google.
Top Floor Digital: The number one demographic that I see contractors neglecting to optimize their online presence for are those in their backyard. People have an odd rationale to target those who don't live and work anywhere near their home base. Google is on record in saying that businesses who optimize to those closest to them will reap the rewards faster than targeting people 100 miles away. The name is the game here is "keyword relevancy".
Restoration Digital Marketing: Most contractors actually know their target audience. Whether that's residential homeowners or commercial properties. The issue I typically see is how you try and communicate with Google on what you want to show up for (rank) and what homeowners actually type in. For example, homeowners don't use the word 'remediation' or 'mitigation'. Yet on restoration contractors' websites and main tags/signals to Google are 'mold remediation' not 'mold removal' or 'water mitigation' instead of 'water damage restoration'.
Question 4: Stop and start
The DYOJO: With all your experience, both in the industry and with digital marketing, what is one thing that business owners should A) stop doing and B) they should start doing to elevate their online presence?
Restoration Digital Marketing: A) If a restoration company is either paying someone or having someone in-house writing a blog, I would stop. People think just writing a blog is helpful, which it can be if you know what you're doing and you have a strategy for the topics. But all you're doing is writing additional content on water, fire, mold that might be taking away from your other money pages. I have seen certain blogs outrank for an internal money page (water damage restoration) because of duplicate content.
B) Not enough restoration companies are utilizing the power of their email list. Most restoration companies have a great list of previous customers, potential customers they market to (plumbers, agents, etc.), and RDM or someone else can always help you increase your email list. Newsletters allow you to reach thousands of people at the click of a button for practically free. Way under-utilized. Not only that you can run smart marketing campaigns for your salespeople to assist them in their job.
Dahl Integration Marketing: A) Stop being platform dependent and instead focus on building up your own platform that you control. B) Start focusing on building an email list and an audience for your own platform. In most cases that’s your blog.
Ironclad Restoration Marketing: A) They should stop being "Reactive" and be more "Proactive" when it comes to marketing their business. Unfortunately a lot of businesses wait until they have no leads coming in, then make knee-jerk decisions on their marketing decisions to try to get leads, whether it's throwing hundreds of dollars at Google Ads or Facebook to fix the problem. Its kind of like trying to lose 25 pounds for your wedding 2 weeks before the wedding day.
B) What they should do to elevate their presence is first set your goals, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. Then put together action plans to hit those goals from their website, paid ads, email marketing, social media, video marketing, etc. If you don't have expertise any of these channels focus on one channel first, my suggestion would be your website. Understand what a good website that is built for conversions, SEO, blogging, etc. If you don't have the time to do this then hire an agency or someone to do this for you.
Top Floor Digital: There is a time and a place for face to face marketing, but with every market being saturated with competition, business owners need to get creative with their marketing. One item that contractors should consider halting is paying for leads through third party lead generation sites. These sites have an incredible amount of downsides such as incorrect NAP (Name address and phone number) submissions to random websites. This is a terrible thing for ongoing SEO efforts as it tells the search engines that your listing data is not accurate. Instead, property restoration professionals should be focusing on publishing content that is relevant and helpful in their industry on a consistent basis.
Question 5: How would you spend $500
The DYOJO: Many small business owners don’t have a lot of extra cash to spend so marketing becomes one of those lesser funded resources. If a contractor had less than $500 a month to spend on digital marketing, how would you recommend they spend it?
Top Floor Digital: I would recommended that they reach out to a local SEO specialist to begin re optimizing their on-page and off-page SEO efforts. At that price point, one could expect to receive 1-2 targeted pages or blog posts per month. Over time this has long lasting results.
Restoration Digital Marketing:With small budgets, I would focus solely on SEO. You might have to break it up where you can't accomplish everything in a month. But a good plan might look like this;
Dahl Integration Marketing: I would recommend lead generation with that $500 on a platform like Google, Facebook or YouTube. I show my clients how to create Lead Attractors, irresistible free offers, that solve your prospect’s biggest challenge. You’d then advertise that lead attractor and generate leads. Then you’d follow up via phone/email to initiate the sales process. Remember, for your advertising to be successful you need to have a proven sales process. Without that you’ll end up most likely losing money.
Ironclad Restoration Marketing: Google Ads. However, they would get a better ROI on SEO but it's typically more than $500/month if you go with any agency that knows how to get results.
Question 6: Online branding for property restoration
The DYOJO: What aspect of online branding do you specialize in that is most applicable to property restoration contractors?
Ironclad Restoration Marketing: SEO, website design, paid ads (Google ads, Facebook/Instagram Ads), video marketing and email marketing.
Top Floor Digital: Being that I am still active in the industry, my local SEO service would be hands down the best service that restoration contractors could utilize. This would allow property managers or adjusters in the area that are in a pinch to do a quick Google search of the area and BOOM, there's another client.
Restoration Digital Marketing: Online search. All restoration contractors see it more and more, homeowners are going online to find a company and do their own research on reputable companies. Insurance companies are also referring less and less. In order to capture online leads you have to show up on the search engines (Advertising or Organic) when a homeowner is looking for your service. One reason these searches are so important is that the potential customer through the online search is really low on the sales funnel. These people are ready to buy. They need fire damage restoration, thus why they are searching for it. Versus creating awareness ads on Facebook, people aren't looking for your service yet, you're just trying to be recognizable for when they do go search for fire/water services.
Dahl Integration Marketing: Branding is a byproduct of successful advertising and marketing. Not the other way around. The focus should always be the bottom-line. I specialize in taking a business from 0 to scale. I’ve worked with small businesses all the way up to 100 Million businesses.
Question 7: Final digital marketing tip
The DYOJO: Anything else you would tell this audience about digital marketing?
Dahl Integration Marketing: Digital marketing will feed your business leads and sales but it’s not the business. You have to have strong systems, processes and team members to be successful at a sustainable level.
Ironclad Restoration Marketing: Consistency is key! Just like your health, you can't eat a salad and just go to the gym once and think you are going to be in great shape forever. And always keep this quote in mind from Henry Ford – “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”
Top Floor Digital: The key is to publish content that people care about. If you are an insurance repairs contractor, then start writing articles and creating web pages about dry out techniques and emergency repairs best practices. This is the only way to become relevant and approachable in the digital landscape.
Restoration Digital Marketing: I work with a lot of companies that have been burned by digital marketing agencies, and restoration owners believe that SEO is a mythical thing that doesn't exist. I've even written multiple articles on R&R that helps restoration owners ask the right questions before they hire a digital marketing agency. The truth is SEO does work, and your agency you work with should have call tracking set up so you can (fairly) easily track your ROI on the campaign. Every restoration owner wants to increase sales - but if you're not getting at least 10-15% of your sales from online, then you're missing out on a big piece of the pie in your market, and the opportunity to diversify your sales.
Digital marketing tips from The Intentional Restorer
Our thanks to our panel guests for taking the time to share their experiences and expertise with these digital marketing tools. At a minimum, most business owners know, you should be utilizing the free platforms that are most commonly used by your potential clients. Marketing in the digital age is about getting your products and services on the screens of your target market. If you need some help reach out to your industry peers through platforms such as The Intentional Restorer (R&R Magazine) or professionals such as the ones we featured in this article.
More about our panelists of professionals
Jeff Carrier - Restoration Digital Marketing
Eric Dahl - Dahl Integration Marketing
Benjamin Ricciardi - Ironclad Restoration Marketing
Greg Power - Top Floor Digital
Rise above negative leadership examples to live your purpose.
You can remember the moment like it was yesterday, maybe it was yesterday. The moment when you made a pledge to yourself, “If I am ever in charge I will never be like that person.”
This pledge applies to a variety of arenas including parenting, business, sports, hobbies, politics, etc. The area of application that we will focus on for this exercise is with positions of leadership in business.
Rise above the negative examples of leadership
More often than not, when you focus on what you don’t want to be, you will limit your development. When you stop to think about the tier of mediocre role models in your life, those who had some good qualities but don’t make the top 10 list of leaders, were they trapped in the shadow of their negative experiences?
If your only goal is not to be like someone whom you were harmed by or despised, you allow that person to continue to hold a grasp on your potential.
I am not trying to be an armchair psychologist. As such, I am speaking from personal experience with my own pledges as well as those I have heard directly from people in a position of leadership. I remember one manager who was so committed to not being what their former manager was that they fell short of clarifying their own identity and clear purpose as a leader.
Embrace your identity and live your purpose as a leader
When your vision is to not be like so-and-so you are more likely to become a replica of so-and-so than you are to embrace your identity. Don’t allow negative leadership examples to take residence in your personal and professional development. You are not your former boss and the best way to ensure you don’t become them is to carve out your own purpose.
Stop comparing yourself to others. The pledge is useless. Saying, “At least I am not like so-and-so,” is nowhere near as important as being able to say, “I am learning to embrace my identity and live my purpose.” Build a bridge and get over that terrible boss. Pursue your purpose and if you reach a point of leadership don’t allow them to shape your vision.
Leadership development resources from The DYOJO:
Let us help you build and execute a plan for achieving success in your personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson has a monthly feature column with Restoration & Remediation (R&R) Magazine titled The Intentional Restorer