Dear Mary Pat,
I own a small lodging establishment in Fish Creek, and I’m really worried about this upcoming season. We have a road construction project scheduled for all of spring, and then there’s the coronavirus, which will most likely impede some of my hotel supplies coming in from overseas, and then it’s also an election year with a lot of uncertainty. How do I stop the panic I’m feeling?
Fish Creek, Wisconsin
There are challenges to running a business, even under the best conditions. If you add in a handful of unknowns, I can appreciate that you would feel a little worried. Panicking isn’t a productive activity, though. Borrowing tomorrow’s troubles doesn’t accomplish anything except ruining today.
You are an entrepreneur, so you’ve already taken on the scariest challenge of opening a business. Now you need to focus on the things you can control:
• Create some special offers to encourage customers to book with you. Maybe offer a package deal with another local business or two.
• Up your social media game. Not media savvy? Find a friend who is and collaborate. If your location is difficult to access during the construction, put a map on all of your channels so your guests know how to reach you.
• Don’t cut your marketing budget. That’s usually the first thing to go, and it should actually be increased if you think your sales are going to slump a little. Make sure your customers know you’re still here and ready to welcome them this season.
• Talk to your suppliers to find out whether they’re anticipating any issues sourcing cleaning supplies, bedding, towels or toiletries. Better yet, consider sourcing closer to home. Buying American or locally whenever possible is a win/win.
• If you’re located directly in the construction zone and your guests will be inconvenienced, it’s better to manage expectations by being up-front about it. You might consider offering a “construction discount” or opening later in the season. If it’s just a matter of a detour, let them know before they travel to you.
• Use the quieter time to tackle some maintenance projects if it’s feasible.
As far as the coronavirus and the election, Door County might actually be busier as a result. Again, worrying won’t change outcomes – or your income. Stay positive and optimistic; be proactive; and keep adapting your sales and marketing plans as needed.