GREETINGS FROM TAHOE CALL CENTER: Blog 2 – “Surviving COVID”

Located in Nevada, Tahoe Call Center is a small family-run business with a big heart, ready to help with your communication needs.  Since 2012 we have assisted clients coast to coast in varied economic and emergency climates: wild-fires, blizzards, ice storms and unforeseen events (with affordable, competitive pricing that didn’t add further trauma).

Rain or shine, short-staffed or no staff, we help keep your business going: Answering phones / taking messages / providing information / Taking credit card orders / collecting and transmitting confidential information via email, SMS, or API (linking with existing systems).  Our agents are trained to process sensitive information with courtesy, respect, and maintain the strictest of confidence.  We also help with those intermittent overflow call surges during business hours and cover your customer inquiries when you are closed.  “Always here so you don’t have to be” – We help keep things running smoothly 24/7, 365 days a year.

May 18 Blog 2: SURVIVING COVID

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”

– Benjamin Franklin

My husband surprised me with tickets to a show we thought we’d never be able to see. This event involved traveling to another state. Living Rural, we don’t get out much. There is always a threat of snow over the mountain passes that time of year, but our drive was uneventful.  Storm clouds of another kind were accumulating but hidden.  We were more aware of an impending threat on the day of our departure, but the pace of our life was still as it had always been.  The show was a ‘once in a lifetime’ event.  The next morning the sky was gloomy and overcast.  Wise to the weather’s fickle potential, we packed and checked out of our hotel by 8:30 am to clear the mountain passes.  It is said, ‘Ignorance is bliss’ and we were as unaware as any could be regarding the changes awaiting us only one week after we returned.  

‘No one predicted the Spanish Inquisition…’ Monte Python pokes fun at catastrophic change, but it sums up how unprepared we were for the Covid virus. Blindsided is a too idealistic explanation. The voices of reason have been advising us for a long time to prepare for ‘something’: have six months income in our savings accounts, have food and water for at least three days, etc.  These were all good suggestions we filed away hoping that ‘someday’ would never come. If we could have spoken with our future selves, how would they have advised us to prepare for something we’ve never experienced before? And, how can you prepare for the future when you struggle to survive each day as so many do? ‘Plan for the future but live for today’. What a freaky balancing act that is. In our current pandemic, living for today consumes so much effort and resources not much is left to plan for the future with.  So what is a person or a business to do?  

“The Future belongs to those who prepare for it today”

– Malcolm X

The only guaranteed constant is change.  Nothing stays the same no matter how much we want it to.  Children grow, our gray hairs accumulate (more so lately) and seasons change.  Remember when we yearned for more time and less commitments?  Be careful what you wish for.  But, despite the statistics everything isn’t all doom and gloom.  The sun rises and sets; oxygen is still prevalent and we have an adequate supply of water.  The food supply chain may be threatened by logistics, but there is still ample food being produced. Current challenges create a swath of opportunity for creative minds.  Small business owners survive through the ability to ‘think on their feet’.  This isn’t the first time in history Life has presented difficulties and it won’t be the last.  The ‘can-do’ generation excelled in creative thinking.  They didn’t know what their outcome would be, but pressed forward nonetheless to what they hoped awaited on the other side.  We must devise and prepare ways to do the same. We know what happens when we do nothing. We only have one direction to go now – forward

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment

– Oprah Winfrey

Living in the present circumstances, how do you maintain your business?  ”Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” [Theodore Roosevelt].  When lasting progress doesn’t come by leaps and bounds, try step by step, moment by moment.  Stay open to change:  Your business made clothing, now it makes medical protective garments. 

“… If you want to go far go with others,” a wise African Proverb; business translation: Networking anyone?   Small businesses, team-up!  Competitors should now be colleagues.  A couple celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary was asked the expected question: How did this marriage last so long.? The husband said, “I put my wife’s needs first.” The wife said: “I put my husband’s needs first.”  Each put the needs of the other first, guaranteeing they were both taken care of. A new mantra then: ‘In the short run, for the long run’. Sharing increases the odds of survival. Gains or losses, everyone benefits or eases the blow.  When our normal (or new normal) returns the components for healthy competition (crucial for true Capitalism)  will have survived as well.

Overnight successes only happened when hard work met opportunity the night before. The fuel of preparation was long in place, waiting for that precise moment when the right match was struck; right time, right place, right prep.  “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength” [Marcus Aurelius]. Take ‘bold action’; be creative; do the unprecedented; prepare for that future.

“Keep calm and carry on”

Winston Churchill

After WWII, England was bankrupt. It wasn’t their ‘first rodeo’.  As in previous times, step by step, day by day, weeks and years, they rebuilt a strong economy by meeting the needs of their citizenry.  Owning a home for 20 years now, I’m somewhat familiar with rebuilding and renovating, though nowhere even close to that same scale.  For us, it’s a question of money meeting time and it’s a rare occasion when the two come together. But I have found time is the greater advantage. Given enough time we can usually figure a way to use what we have on hand to meet our needs and avoid making decisions under pressure that end up costing us more in the long run.

“Don’t count the days, make the days count”

– Mohammad Ali

Time for once is on your side.  You’re not chasing it, trying to stretch it, or make it last longer.  There’s plenty of it to spend.  It is an overlooked commodity that should be advantaged, not despaired. You have time to think, time to decide, time to research, time to plan and prepare, time to organize, time to create. Time keeps moving with or without you; regardless of change, choice, or circumstance. What can you or your business do with the advantage of time?

“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

– Barack Obama

Staying home has become a new ‘Community Service’.  It is a small inconvenience for a greater good, ensuring -as best we can- any spread of COVID is contained. It won’t last forever (it just feels like it will).  But staying at home doesn’t mean checking out of life.  We can still contribute and help others. Exercising our ‘better angels’ is an American attribute. The most simple-seeming act could be the difference between surviving and not surviving for someone else.

Put together a group to act as liaisons. Form an online service for your neighbors, local businesses or area. Combine resources and purchase in bulk if possible to split between neighbors. This way each pays less than they would individually. You have internet service but they don’t? Help them find resources through local available charities and community service agencies, place online orders for food, medicine, cleaning products, etc. Create a local website/ bulletin board where people can phone-in or post their needs (anonymously) and others can read and respond (like a gift registry only for problems and solutions within your immediate radius – as we all self-isolate).

Your business doesn’t have a website? Consider printing flyers with what you can offer and have customers phone in orders for delivery or pick up. Keep things affordable for this current reduced economy (some income is better than no income).  Many different types of businesses can accept phone-in orders. It just takes a bit of creative logistics.  Just about everyone has access to a phone. Make it easy for them to call you. Then connect with groups / businesses that can pick up orders and deliver them.  Help create new, or partner with existing micro-businesses and others to support your brick and mortar store and employees.

Small (and larger) restaurants and bakeries can combine their resources and skills together to prepare meals – ‘heat and eat’ and ‘ready to eat’ specials at affordable prices. Many people are unable to cook or afford much food currently. Restaurants buy in bulk and often have more control over meal pricing and variety. Put together Fresh and Frozen meal packages for the day or week; individual and family packs.    And, if there are some meal packs left unsold but not expired, consider donating them to a local food bank. There may be a tax deduction you can receive for that, but more critically, it will enable those without means to eat as well. Make flyers or postcards to advertise your ‘meal deals’ and mail them out to your local area. Prepare pick up zones and connect with delivery services. Do you sell produce or product usually at Farmer’s markets? Print up some flyers to advertise what you have available & connect with a Liason to get the word out online or team up with restaurants or local grocery outlets. Then arrange your logistics with delivery services.  At the end of the day, maybe you’ll just ‘break-even’ but you’ll remain open and provide an unforgettable service helping your community, the farmers, and food producers as well. Character and Reputation are priceless commodities for any business. We need to temporarily shift from ordering through Nation-wide sources to ordering from within our local or closest communities. There are many ‘family farmers’ and ‘hobby farmers’ that have excess food to sell. Hook up America, with America and buy local for COVID. When everyone works together, all needs are met.

The Landmark Cares Act (financial aid from this past March) provides assistance for some businesses to retain jobs versus laying their employees off. This is done through a program called “Work Share” (See PBS Weekend News 5/24/20 Broadcast for details). Matt Pierce of the LA Times shares information about this program. The LA Times saved 84 jobs through a 20% reduction of everyone’s hours – spreading cost-cutting across the board evenly. Employees filed for State Unemployment Compensation for those missing hours. With the “Work Share” program, funds are reimbursed for State paid Unemployment Compensation by the Federal Government directly to each participating State.

 We all are being asked to tread water for a bit but eventually, we will swim again. Think of what you ‘can’ do versus what you can’t to make your business ‘essential’.  When local businesses join with their community wonderfully bold and creative solutions can evolve. Healthy Communities and Healthy Economies require a delicate balancing act at present.  But, a Healthy Community takes precedence. Without that, there is no economy.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done”

Nelson Mandela

Everyone’s in the same boat. The keys for getting it back to shore are Patience, Flexibility, Perseverance, Endurance, Creativity – and don’t sweat the small stuff…” [Robert Eliot]. Difficult times are relative to those experiencing them, but we can do this! Our generations have track records of accomplishing great things.  This is our ‘defining moment’ and how history records it will be decided by our Accomplishments, Innovation and Grace.  We will reach that wonderful day when we can all take a collective sigh of relief.  Things will become more familiar, customers will return en-mass, the phone will ring off the hook once again and Tahoe Call will be there to help, as we are now,  24/7 – 365 days a year.

“Believe always in the promise of America, because nothing is inevitable here”

John McCain