A letter to all Business and Workforce of the Macleay, Saturday 28th March 2020

Dear Macleay Valley business owners and operators and employees,

Settle in because this could be a long read, however I hope helpful.

I am writing to everyone as President of the Macleay Valley Business Chamber, a local citizen and business owner in the community.

I would like to begin by congratulating everyone who owns, operates or works in a Macleay Valley business and who have been trying so hard to keep their doors open to their customers (our community) in these extraordinary times.

In these dreadfully difficult times it is imperative that we all try to pull together as one Macleay business to try and keep not only our own but also each other’s businesses operating for as long as possible and support each other in whatever way we can, not only from a financial perspective but also and emotional and psychological one too. We need to all talk to one another and share our thoughts, feelings, experiences and offer our support.

I would like to share a few ideas and thoughts with the business community about things that you may have considered previously but have maybe not progressed because you felt it was not in your area of expertise.

From conversation and communication (and include people that might work for you, friends, family members or customers), we can start to think outside the box and sometimes through the smallest of ideas no matter how strange can come a new idea that one may not have considered previously and could then be possibly turned into a reality, and this does not always mean a further cost.

One of the keys to success in business is COMMUNICATION, keep it going with everyone around you. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 may be causing the physical closure of doors to your customers, perhaps consider implementing some of the following ideas to keep operational where possible;

• Start a Facebook page, Twitter account etc. and communicate with your customers wherever possible via social media

• Consider a google listing for your business.

• Utilise free business listing resources such as shoplocal-online.com.au the Macleay Argus business listings page

• If you budget permits, have a simple blog style website made or ask around there maybe someone who can help you do this at very little cost, I will expand on these ideas a little further on.

If you would like to do any of these things and are not sure where to start, contact the Macleay Valley Business Chamber and we will do our best to help guide you through these processes, and in case you are wondering, in this very difficult time you do not need to be an active member of Chamber to get our help.

So, let me expand on how these things may work for you;

First up it’s important to remember, if you are going to set up these tools, you must maintain the information daily because this is how you will interface with your customers in place of them coming into your business premises as we likely move into further lockdowns.

Facebook; (it’s free)
You can create a page and communicate with your customers and invite them to share their thoughts on matters relevant to your offerings. Post photos of your merchandise online and potentially offer an unattended drop off to their house or an appointment for them to pick up from you.
If you are a professional service, post articles of interest keeping content relevant and sharp to attract the readers attention. The only difficulty in this one is working out a payment arrangement. You could offer delivery after direct deposit, credit card over the phone, set up a PayPal account (there are a multitude of payment methods out there) speak with other business owners or your financial institution.

Google My Business (it’s free)
A simple Google business listing can be used to drive potential customers to your website, Facebook page or other social media where you get the opportunity to engage with them (albeit electronically), but then it’s up to you to respond rapidly to their request. It is often a good idea to touch base by phone wherever possible.

Have a look at Google business listing here;

Google My Business – Drive Customer Engagement on Google

Free Business Listings

There are a number of other free business listing sites out there such as Save our Shops, Buy from the Bush, The Macleay Argus (Open for Business) and more recently another local to the Mid North Coast (NSW) is shoplocal-online.com.au. The latter is from a local person who wants to help small business in these tough times and a simple listing for any business is free, however it is up to you to maintain the listing with up to date information. One tip, if you are looking for this new on, enter the web address directly into you web browser address bar, as it is not yet ranking in Google search results (this takes time, I explain tis one a little later)

Website for your business
First up, you don’t need to spend a million dollars on a web build to get a web site. If you have a budget that permits, a professionally built website is fantastic, here is a local one, Creative Jane Graphic Design Click here for their website, however if you are on a really small budget there are a number of (web) hosting companies that offer simple and inexpensive website building tools to people that sign up with them, one that comes to mind is GoDaddy Click here for their website. For the later type you do not really need to be a computer geek as these types of website builder tools take you step by step through the process.

Just a tip, (from an old computer geek) most often when people are looking for things on the internet, they just type into a search engine (Yahoo, Google, Bing)to name a few) however, until a business or service has had an online presence for a time, they may not come up in search results. This is one of the reasons you may need to type a web address directly into the browser address bar as shown below.

In closing, the Macleay Valley Business Chamber has a lot of really talented businesspeople on board that are happy to help others in the Macleay. Please remember we are here to help local business and build on the economics of the Macleay for a sustainable future for everyone that lives, works and plays in the Macleay.

Keep an eye on our Website and Facebook page for business updates on COVID-19 where we share relevant information as it comes to hand.

Please feel free to get in touch, email me Scott Marsh scott@hiscmnc.com.au or call M 0408 634 025, or contact our Executive Officer admin@kempseychamber.com.au.

Until next time,
Best Wishes Scott Marsh President – Macleay Valley Business Chamber