How to Help Small Businesses Survive COVID-19

If you still have a solid source of income but you’re watching the economic devastation all around you, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help. Fortunately, BILLSHARK has found a number of ways you can support local small businesses.

Every state at this point has reopened to one degree or another, but for the small businesses that have been struggling to survive the forced closure of their business, the road back will be a long one. So here are four ways you can help boost their bottom line. Don’t worry—the Amazons and the Walmarts and the GrubHubs of the world will survive without you just fine for awhile.

1. Do it yourself

Did you know that delivery apps such as GrubHub and DoorDash charge restaurants as much as 30 percent to deliver an order? Some large cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City have capped these fees at 15 percent, but restaurants already operate on such thin profit margins that they’re left with almost nothing by the time these delivery services take their cut off the top.

So do the restaurant a favor and either ask if they have their own delivery drivers (who could use the tip) or pick it up yourself, unless you’re COVID-quarantined.

And by the way, if you look up their number on the GrubHub app, GrubHub gets a percentage from the click-through, even if you don’t use GrubHub’s delivery service. So look up the phone number on the restaurant’s website or on their menu, if you have one, and contact them that way.

And please, if you can afford it, tip the drivers generously. The delivery drivers on these apps are using their own cars and providing their own gas—not to mention risking their health—to save you having to go out, and to try to make some money.

But there have been reports that customers whose deliveries don’t contain everything they ordered because items were out of stock are taking it out on the drivers by reducing or eliminating their tips altogether (a practice known as “tip baiting”). The driver can’t help it; the stores can’t help it. If items aren’t in stock, blame it on the pandemic.

2. Go offline

As the states have all begun relaxing their stay-at-home restrictions, most stores and restaurants are gradually reopening. And be honest—haven’t the last few weeks in seclusion whetted your appetite for going in person into a brick-and-mortar establishment where you can actually see and touch the merchandise up close?

But the continued coronavirus restrictions will mean that, even if stores reopen, they’ll have to restrict the number of shoppers coming through the doors. In addition, surveys show a majority of Americans still don’t feel safe enough to resume their previous shopping habits, so traffic will be reduced. As a result, except for an initial burst of pent-up buying activity as governors lift stay-at-home orders, many businesses will still be living on the edge.

Therefore, if you’re able to, visit shops in person, patronize local shops that sell things you’d normally buy on Amazon, and put as much of your money as you can into supporting local businesses.

3. Go online

If you can’t get out, or your favorite small business is still partially or fully closed, consider either buying merchandise from them online or buying a gift certificate that you can redeem at the store later. This puts immediate cash in the proprietor’s pocket as well as letting them know you still support them. As millions of small businesses struggle to survive right now, this sign of solidarity will mean a lot to them.

4. Spread the word

If you know of a local shop or restaurant that is having a tough time of it right now, hop on social media and let others know that this great place could use a little extra support. If you’ve patronized a place in the past, make a point to leave a good online review on their website or on Yelp.

In the wake of the pandemic and the economic devastation that has accompanied it, tens of thousands of small businesses have already closed their doors. If you want to be able to return to your favorite shop or eatery when the quarantine is fully lifted, do what you can to help them survive in the meantime.

And look to crowdfunding sites to help. GoFundMe has created a centralized hub for all coronavirus-related fundraisers, including for small businesses and their employees.

“During this incredibly challenging time, we are seeing a huge number of fundraisers across a wide variety of needs—from people directly impacted and small businesses forced to close, to organizations on the ground helping with the pandemic,” GoFundMe’s CEO Tim Cadogan told CBS Money Watch.

And if you’re looking for some extra cash that you can spread around to good causes, let BILLSHARK’s professional negotiators find it for you. We know how to uncover hidden savings on your bills, and it costs nothing if we don’t save you money.

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