As a business owner, do you take care of your employees? As a customer, how much stock do you put into exceptional service?
Squamish business consultant Janice MacLean recently self-published Back to Black: A Post-Pandemic Playbooka book that she says aims to help entrepreneurs overcome the difficulties that the pandemic has caused.
Those questions are two she thinks are worth considering in the wake of the COVID-19 wrath.
In the book, she examines 10 essential business functions, the impact of the pandemic on them, and offers 30 actions to help individuals thrive and businesses thrive.
Chief Squamish sat down with MacLean for a preview of the pandemic’s impact on local businesses pages and to gather some of his insights.
The following is an edited version of that conversation.
Can you talk a bit about the wide range of what businesses have been through during the pandemic?
This pandemic has been a disruption we have never experienced in our lifetime. Crisis management and risk management are important parts of a business plan, but I think we’ve had such a smooth ride for so long that companies have become a little complacent.
It was business as usual and we carried on with very little disruption.
But the pandemic disruptions were unimaginable and unforeseen in many ways. It doesn’t matter if you are a small business or a big business, it has affected absolutely everyone.
We are now entering a period of recovery and resilience and reimagining what our businesses can be. I think there have been a lot of lessons learned throughout the pandemic, and they weren’t all bad lessons. There are many good lessons.
What are some of those good lessons?
First, the use of technology. Businesses that weren’t using today’s technology to run their business efficiently quickly realized the importance of technology: whether it’s billing or point-of-sale. Technology will continue to impact the way we do business in the future. And these are valuable lessons we have learned throughout the pandemic. Technology has a cost, but often the return on investment is far greater than other returns.
Second, the human capital aspect of a business. We don’t have a business without our employees, and how have we treated our employees? How to better serve them?
I think we are entering a business revolution and we are going to have to change the way we think about business.
Our employees who work in our company are essential, they are our greatest asset.
Are we using their skills to their full potential? Our employees are going to be more demanding with the companies they work for. How is the culture? How does the company value its employees?
I think that’s one of the positives that’s come out of COVID is that, oh my God, people have realized that family is so, so important and spending more time with them matters to them. workers.
I can do this either by working remotely or by working fewer hours. These long hours and long weeks of work are simply not healthy for our people, our community and the future generation. So these are positives that have come out of the pandemic.
Another aspect that seems to have changed is more of a personal and work connection. We’re actually talking about our well-being and mental health at work, aren’t we?
Absoutely. In my last chapter I talked about celebrating the staff and celebrating our lives and our families or whatever is important to us, our accomplishments. It can be about personal or professional accomplishments, but about celebrating our people and what we have been through. And not just at Christmas or during annual reviews. We should celebrate our company, then each other and our accomplishments every day as they happen.
Some people find it difficult to transition from working from home to returning to the office. Can you talk about this transition?
I think it’s about trusting your employees to do the job they were hired to do.
What I went through working with the architecture firm, you know, all of a sudden all of these architects are working remotely because of the pandemic. What about quality control? And what processes do we have in place?
Well, you know that many people work better without being distracted by constant interruptions from people walking past the desk or the ringing of the phone?
We talk about doing more with less, which I think is appropriate when looking at opportunities for multiple remote workers. It doesn’t work for everyone, but for those who work well in this environment, let them.
What other changes do you see happening in business in the future?
I believe we are going to be more of a consumer-driven society. The consumer is no longer going to accept some of the things that they shrugged off and accepted before.
For example, a service that was not up to their expectations or a product that was not up to their expectations.
We won’t patronize companies that don’t value us as customers, don’t provide consistent service, and don’t deliver the products they promise. I think this is going to be a real change that will cause companies to reassess themselves. Maybe they have fewer product lines or are focusing on their best sellers and improving that. And maybe they have more reward systems for loyal customers.
And the other thing is that we’ve had two years of very little human interaction, and so the events are going to be huge as we move forward. I would develop an event that attracts these people and introduces new business.
At the same time, some people are not ready to return to large groups. So we will need to be mindful of how we engage people through technology as well as live events.
MacLean will host a book signing event for Back to Black: A Post-Pandemic Playbook April 9, at the Cork and Craft Taphouse from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The book can be found at the Squamish Store, inside the Squamish Adventure Center, and at the Whistle Stop Boutique on Cleveland Avenue. Online, it can be purchased through Amazon.
“About a Local” is a regular column that features an interesting squamish local. Got an idea for someone we should feature? Email [email protected]