How this small local print shop dealt with a COVID scare
When COVID hits the fan
Recently one of us was exposed to COVID while making a delivery. (That’s our best guess for how exposure could have occurred – we can’t be certain.) Once aware of this news, about 4 days later, we immediately sent him to be tested. Unfortunately, his results came back positive, sending us into an immediate mitigation plan.
Because we have been taking extreme precautions for many months (air purifiers, masks, taking temperatures, curbside service, etc) we collectively felt a tad insulated, almost forgetting how vulnerable everyone can be to the virus. Suddenly our small team of 9 had a brand new perspective on what others had been dealing with for months.
With the shocking news, we believed we would have to close our doors while everyone was quarantined.
Why being closed matters
As a local print shop in Wilmington NC, most of our work is business to business printing meaning we provide essential services to other local businesses, governmental agencies, non-profit agencies, schools and religious organizations in our city and the surrounding area.
Here are some of the ways our work is of benefit: printing building plans, producing marketing collateral for businesses, printing forms and newsletters, creating logos, and producing direct mail campaigns. This is a very short list of services but hopefully you get the idea. In short, people depend on us.
Business relationships are key to our success because our clientele know they can depend on us to ‘get it done’ as needed, which frequently means in a hurry.
Producing extraordinary results is key to helping our customers; it’s why they do business with us (that, and our charm…). They trust us to keep our relationship strong by providing exceptional customer service thereby helping them accomplish their goals, hopes and dreams. If we’re closed then that’s a problem.
Why are we telling you this?
Because this is why you want to work with a local printing company as opposed to one of the big boxes. First, we are local members of your community. “But so are the employees of the big boxes” you might comment. True, however, we can make timely decisions for how our business is operated, as opposed to seeking permission from corporate heads located hundreds or thousands of miles away. That makes us nimble, able to make on-the-spot decisions that ultimately provide you with more timely service, as in instituting a mitigation plan at the speed of light.
So, where does the C-word fit into this?
Yes, back to the story. Luckily, on the advice of the local health department, we have determined 3 of us can occupy the building at the same time until everyone is cleared (i.e. tests negative and quarantines). These individuals use separate entrances, wear masks & gloves and have no interaction with one another. There is no curbside or delivery service currently and production is limited to only what 33% of our team can produce. This has forced us into a ‘something is better than nothing’ mentality, starkly contrasting our normal ‘full steam ahead’ processes of providing above & beyond customer service at lightening fast speeds. We have called our customer base to give them a heads up and are continually updating on our social media platforms and website, explaining our mitigation process.
We think we’ve dodged a big bullet because all of us, except our infected colleague, have tested negative and we are continually tweaking the process to benefit you without compromising protocol. Things should be back to normal within a week.
Let’s bring this back full circle
To be honest, we don’t know what a big box response would be to a COVID scare. Our perspective is only that of a nimble, local printing company mindful of our team members and our clientele.
What we know is that we are prioritizing the health of our team and our community over financial gain. Clearly, if we’re not healthy as a team and a community, our economy suffers. Even though our decision will slow down our progress toward our financial BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), we collectively feel as a team that this is the correct decision for us, to stay healthy and slow the spread of COVID. This was a nimble decision our small printing company was able to make quickly to keep everyone employed and as healthy as possible.
Have we enjoyed this little hiccup in our routine? Not so much. Was the self-imposed quarantine a necessity? Yep, we think so. And that’s a key ingredient to being a small business – making decisions for the good of all, not just from a financial perspective.