As I’m sure you’re well aware, the government shutdown is starting to put a strain on both Federal employees and the businesses and industries they support. The local economy is feeling the sting, and our neighbors are under stress. According to Governing Magazine, approximately 16,000 of Georgia’s federal workforce is presently furloughed or working without pay. With other sectors also affected by the delays in payments or grants, food stamps, even colleges and universities that receive federal monies for operating – the effects are wide-reaching. How can we, as real estate professionals, be helpful during this time? Let’s take a look at ways to help when times are hard by supporting local businesses.
The Trickle-down Effect
Thinking about a friend who has been affected by the shutdown – no paycheck, no end in site – she is frozen and panicked financially. As much as people are supposed to save for bad situations, realistically, most live paycheck to paycheck and a bubble like this is all it takes to dramatically change their lives and the financial stability of their families. Not only do they stop spending money on extras, but they stop paying regular bills, including mortgages. We’ve begun to hear of call centers exploding with phone calls from affected families asking for a delay in payments due to the shutdown. The ripple effects can be felt everywhere. Once basic needs are met – food, utilities, gas – other payments may start to slide.
Those same families typically support local and remote businesses with purchases. This is where a trickle-down effect will really put the squeeze on other local businesses whose customers include furloughed Federal employees. Parallel businesses such as government contractors and support businesses such as day-care facilities begin to feel the effect of losing a portion of their customers. If parents aren’t working, they won’t need daycare and won’t have the income to pay for it. If any of those affected by the shutdown were in the process of securing a home loan, car loan, or refi that process is likely on hold. Everything stops. Even small businesses trying to secure a loan from the SBA to infuse much-needed capital into their endeavors are finding themselves on hold with no end in sight. Trickling down further, businesses who sell optional services and products such as salons, movie theaters, concert venues, restaurants, clothing shops of all sizes, and hotels will see the effect depending on the percentage of their local clients that are employed by the government.
How Can A Real Estate Professional Be of Value?
This is where your ability as a real estate professional to build positive relationships can be the most valuable: relating to people who are experiencing tough times that aren’t in their control. Look through your client files. You knew what the occupations of your clients were at the time of the transaction they completed with you. Do you think they are affected? Can you help support their business during this time? Can you reach out to them with compassion to check in?
Five Ways to Help Support Local Businesses:
- Make a list of trusted resources on your site and list those you can stand behind and tell why you support them. Link to their websites and include their contact information in your newsletters, website, and social media accounts.
- Give them online reviews on Google – use the right column when you search for their business and a box shows up with review prompt.
- Use Yelp? Why not review them there? Both Yelp and Google reviews provide word-of-mouth credibility to a business.
- Are you connected to them on LinkedIn? This may really have a positive impact on them if you gave them a review as a trusted resource, vendor, supplier.
- Commit to Saturdays always being Small Business Saturday – even if you only get a cup of coffee, drop off dry cleaning, purchase a gift you need from a local business rather than Amazon – take the time, get to know the owners. LISTEN to them. Sincerely ask them what they love most about owning their business and what their biggest challenge is lately. This presents you an opportunity to share your experiences at these neighborhood businesses on your social media channels, such as Instagram and Facebook, widening their potential customer base.
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