In our final episode of Season 1, Paul and Dave talk with Executive Director Rosalind Scott of the Better Business Bureau. Rosalind shares how local businesses are being innovative in their efforts to navigate the challenges that the pandemic has presented. She provides some useful tips for business leaders and describes how their own organization has helped both their clients and the community at large adapt to the “new normal.”
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Paul: And joining us today is Dave Monahan President of Smart Dolphins. Dave, how are you today?
Dave: I’m really good thanks, Paul.
Paul: Awesome. And special guest today is Rosalyn Scott, the President and CEO of the Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau. Ros, how are you today?
Ros: Oh, I’m wonderful and thanks for having me.
Paul: Well, it’s always a pleasure to chat. I know you and I can chat for hours about many things, including, of course, a local business, but also some shared hobbies, which we won’t go into today. Lots going on locally, and we really wanted to bring you on the show because we’re trying to highlight some…Obviously, the reality of the situation over the last six months has not been great, but there are obviously within that some success stories, and we thought, who better to know what those are and to share those with our audience than Ros from the BBB. So maybe tell us if there’s a few companies or maybe some particular industries that you think have been very innovative and had some unique success during this strange time.
Ros: Well, sadly, not all businesses can adapt and change and be successful during this time, and we feel very, very sad for any businesses that have either gone out of business or have been ultimately struggling just to try and keep their doors open. But on the happy side, like the Better Business Bureau, we have survived the last pandemic and we will survive this one to. The chair of our board pointed that out recently. And we have some amazing accredited businesses that have done some very cool things. The Super Plumber, they’re great at plumbing, but at the beginning of this crazy, crazy time realized that they have all kinds of plumbers and they have all kinds of vehicles, and so they decided to help people that were shut in to get medication and groceries and other things, and they used their plumbers and their vans that were not busy out plumbing to actually help people in the community. Well done. Wow.
Dave: Totally. That’s great.
Ros: So cool, yes. And of course, up the road, those same people will recommend them as plumbers. That’s a smart thing to do when you give back, what goes around comes around. And other ones Dusty Roberts, one of my favorite people loves to clean carpets. He lives to clean carpets, Luv a Rug is very well known for that.
Paul: We’ve heard of that, that’s sort of a Victoria icon isn’t it?
Ros: And he took his techniques for cleaning carpets and adapted that to cleaning offices and work spaces because you can’t reopen unless you know that you are sterilized and clean, and he developed a whole new cleaning system to do exactly that. Smart plan.
Dave: Very smart.
Ros: He has been incredibly busy deep cleaning for people. And that we get people like Tony from Elite Promotional Products. Well, normally I’d be going to him for plaques and all kinds of trophies, et cetera, all of those big gatherings have been canceled, people aren’t ordering stuff like that from him, so smart man, he now produces masks, sanitation products, face shields, everything else with company logos on them. We all have to have those things. I don’t know about you guys but I have about a half a dozen different types of masks that I now own. And having your company logo on it is great, it’s super advertising and it keeps him in business and on the side, he took the time that he now has because he’s not as busy as he was to open up a new business. And we actually see people do this, “I’d always wanted to do whatever but I don’t have the time.” So in his case, he’s opened up a new business that does digital marketing because he had the time to do that, and by the way, he’s doing pretty well, so well done to Tony.
WebMax marketing they do all kinds of online stuff and the whole pivot and adapt and so many retailers had to go to online shopping and they had to take their products online. Paul and I do share some hobbies, and my favorite places to go is the PC Shaver shop because they carry a lot of the tools and a lot of the materials that I need for one of my hobbies, and they almost overnight took their entire inventory and put it online, so that people could not only keep shopping while they were closed, but when they re-opened, they can now do curbside and now you see a ton of curbside.
Paul: I have a question about that because we’ve seen this happen a fair bit, where companies have taken their merchandise and put it online, and this, of course, companies like Shopify are benefiting hugely by that. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but Shopify at one point was the most valued company in Canada after this pandemic came out because suddenly all these people are using their service, which is as far as I can tell, is a pretty good service. But I’m curious with that where it falls around delivery, because this is the big issue that a lot of sort of traditional retailers have been struggling with for a long time, is competing against the likes of Amazon and Walmart for that, for the free…to be able to offer free delivery, somebody cost orders $20 worth of merchandise on your online store and you have to deliver it to them may costs you $25 to deliver it. It’s really hard, right? So have you heard much about that still sort of the same issue or have you heard of it maybe in this example, it’s a been a road block at all in terms of continuing to generate that business and maybe you’ve heard some ideas?
Ros: The stores that are doing really, really well by taking a lot of their inventory and letting people access it online, in general, it’s a curbside pick-up. Yeah, so no fees any kind of shopping or on a thing, they have options to ship, but people that don’t want to pay, if I buy $20 worth of miniature whatever, because I’m a hobbiest I don’t want pay $40 to have it shipped to me but I’m quite happy to go and pick it up. Because the other thing is, obviously, we want people to shop local, businesses are not going to survive with the pricing from Amazon.
Paul: This is it.
Ros: We really, really need to encourage people to shop local whenever possible, and of course, these adaptations where you can maybe order online, put aside something online and then go pick it up in person. I was so thrilled when…I have a cat, PetSmart, that’s where I buy food for my cat, and they had a wonderful contactless curbside pickup, right at the very beginning of the shutdown where you would go online, you organized what it was that you wanted and you would give a window of time that you wanted to pick it up, and you would drive to the store and they had parking stalls set aside and you’d just pop your trunk, and they would come out and put it in. It was brilliant. And then I noticed, “Oh, okay, all these restaurants trying to pivot and adapt and doing in general… A very good job of it.” They were doing the same thing with food. I went to 10 acres Bistro got my favorite chicken pot pie, and it was delivered pretty much contactless. And really smart, one of the standards of trust that we stand behind, is that you have to really give to your customers, you have to do that a little bit extra, or you’re not just good, you’re better. And when I went to pick up chicken pot pie, they gave me a bunch of flowers from the farm. So I was like “Wow, nobody ever gives me flowers.”
Paul: Nobody ever any gives me flowers either.
Ros: And I will never forget the fact that they gave me a bunch of flowers. That will bring me back to a place.
Paul: That’s neat.
Ros: So we are saying to businesses be smart, not only adapt but make sure that you show that you value your customers, because we know it’s hard to adapt and it’s hard to keep going and everybody is struggling. But when you do that little bit extra that “I really care about the customers. I’m going above and beyond.” Oh boy, it pays back 1000 times.
Paul: Yeah, I think the curbside pickup thing, when it can be done, is huge. I live out here in Sooke, and there was not a lot of businesses doing that, the grocery stores weren’t doing that, and there’s a bunch of places I just haven’t shopped at since the pandemic started, because that’s what I was looking for.
Ros: Except it can be done really really well and I’ve got a great example. There’s a little Home Hardware store in Fairfield Plaza and everybody’s lined up outside, carefully socially distancing standing by the tape doing all the stuff that we’re learning how to do. They have a person standing outside and they say to you “what is it that you’re looking for today?”
Dave: I love it.
Ros: “Oh, okay,” now I’m engaged and I’m not just standing here and worried about the tape and all that stuff and worried if the guy next to me is too close. Instead, I’m like, “okay, yeah, I came to buy masking tape.” “Oh, that’s on aisle 10 and we have lots of it, and just in a minute, I will let you go down there because we happen to know nobody’s on aisle 10 right now.”
Dave: Oh wow.
Ros: Genius absolute genius right? So not only am I getting great customer service, but when I get into the store, I really feel confident that they really know what they’re doing. They know where their product is. They have my safety in mind, and I feel good about the experience. Because the one thing about Covid is this isn’t fun. There’s nothing fun about going through a pandemic. It’s awful, it’s boring. It makes people grumpy and angry because I want to do fun things. It’s sad when the highlight of your social life is, “wow, I walked down the block.”
Paul: I’ve got three Zoom calls this week…
Ros: There you go. People inviting you to a cocktail party “oh good, I get to sit at home and stare at my computer.” That’s not a cocktail party. So if you can take the experience and take away some of that “yuck” and make it a little more fun, a little more social, easier, because how many times has anybody gone into the grocery store and to me, I don’t look at the floor for directions. It’s like it’s not user-friendly. I don’t know. I’m not used to looking down at the floor to find an arrow. You know you get a little distracted, carried away, and you forget to look at the arrow and now you’re walking down the wrong aisle in the wrong way, and you can tell because the guy coming towards you looks pretty angry right because… “How could you do this?” It’s not safe. What kind of idiot are you walking down the wrong way.” And so all of us are having to learn these new things, if a store can help you without making you feel like you’re an idiot, that you’re doing something wrong.
Paul: There’s a lot of frazzled nerves. We see dumb arguments. People yelling at people wearing masks because they are wearing masks. People yelling at people not wearing masks because they are not wearing masks. Right, can we just all try to get along and get through this. Starting arguments over futile, things like that just strikes me as really… I guess probably just an outcome of a lot of general frustration that people have right now.
Ros: And I think it is hard for a business owner to have to go through that stress. People have had to lay people off, people that they’ve worked with three years and that they know and trust etc. And they’re worried about money. Are they going to have enough money to pay their rent? Can they pay their payroll? So business owners have this giant amounts of stress, and then they also have to run their business, and on the same breath, try and come up with these great ways to make their customers feel safe and happy and have a good experience with them. That’s a giant challenge. So when we see people doing it and doing it really well that’s solid gold.
Paul: Do you have any since we’re on the topic, we’ve kind of been hovering around retail…You hear it sensationalized on the news where arguments break out and staff are abused and stuff, but I’ve actually heard of some people in particular in grocery retail industry where they’ve been yelled at by customers and just abused in ways that they wouldn’t normally have to be subjected to because it’s something, it’s always just something sort of ridiculous that happens and they went down the wrong way and they asked them politely to go the right way and they just lose their minds. And then they end up kicking people out of the store, sort of escalated situations and stuff. Is there any sort of general advice that you would have that or maybe some ways that you’ve seen businesses deal with this unfortunate sort of phenomenon that’s happening?
Ros: Yeah, I think being very transparent about how you’re operating, that’s one of our standards of trust…Tell your customers what you can and cannot do.
Ros: So if you have protocols in place and everybody does and let your customers know exactly what those protocols are and why. Okay, if you have decided that you have to have people wearing masks to come into your store to shop, let people know, help them out, have extra disposable masks in case they don’t have one with them. Make it an easier experience for your customer and one that they understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Because people get angry when they don’t get it. Now, a lot of people, the whole wear mask or don’t wear a mask. The anger comes from fear and from misunderstanding, but if you go to a store and they ask you to wear masks, and I like Good Things Consignment on Oak Bay Avenue, great little store, and they are asking all of their customers to wear masks when they go into the store and to sanitize your hands. Okay, I, I understand that because the owners and the staff there are older, so they’re concerned for their staff, they want them to be safe, and also there customers. So they have somebody outside explaining that, okay, and so people are lining up to go in because they understand and they’re not angry and they’re not yelling at each other. Right, and so be transparent about whatever you have in place. And we get complaints, a lot of complaints that seem almost unreasonable, “they say they can do this within two days and it took four days.” They are angry. Well, we’re in the middle of the pandemic. Okay, and you would think that people naturally would understand that, no. They’re reverting to that “you said it would be two days… Yeah, but that was in December and now we are in the middle of a pandemic.” So we say to owners, you have to really say, “okay, because of the pandemic, our services may take longer than usual.” Let your customers now and then they don’t get that anger thing going on because they misunderstood because they’re expecting one thing and they’re getting another. That always upsets a customer. And even though it may seem obvious, it’s not necessarily obvious to the person on the other end.
Paul: It’s funny one of the principles of business is under promise and over-deliver for customer service, that’s how you’re going to succeed and that’s difficult to do in the best of times but in the middle of a pandemic. Funny example I had was, I ordered something online, it said it was going to take four weeks, and I actually inquired why is just going to take four weeks? It doesn’t seem like it should take four weeks are like, “Oh, we’re just telling everybody, it’s going to take four weeks, it’s probably not going to take four weeks.” Sure enough it showed up four days later. Maybe the extreme version of under promise and over-deliver, but in that needless to say I was happy to get it in four days thinking it was three weeks early.
Ros: Yeah, we would sort of suggest that that’s not the best way to settle telling people a timeline that’s realistic, makes people happier than one that just seems crazy. The BBB did a survey across North America about Covid and challenges and what people are doing and all of those good things. And the number one complaint, the airlines, travel agencies. I feel sorry for travel agencies, number one, they can’t really work right now because nobody’s going anywhere, and number two, they have no control of this. If somebody booked a cruise and by the way, no cruise ships are going anywhere, it’s not their fault, but we’re seeing high volumes of complaints against travel agencies, hard for them. Vacation rentals. A lot of vacation rentals were not giving refunds and so people were getting terribly upset because they invested a large amount of money and potentially weren’t going to get it back.
I think every business is doing their best. What are you going to do? These are very, very, very challenging times for any business doing anything. We have seen some cool givebacks. Proline roofing is actually doing online webinars and tutorials for people that live in Strata councils.
Paul: Oh, it’s a good idea.
Ros: Yeah, yeah, that’s normally what they do. They are roofers, but they felt that there was an opportunity to do some educational pieces for people and that’s a great thing to do. Good for them. Other companies. Lida Homes I mean there is still home building going on. But they’re giving back by taking a portion of every project that they complete to support the Single Parent Resource Centre. So they’re actually taking part of their profit because they’re still building and doing things and actually giving back to the community because charities are suffering.
Paul: Oh of course.
Ros: Not just businesses, people are not giving to charities at the moment as they’re worried, they may not have money to give or it’s just not on people’s radar right now, and so some charities are really, really struggling. We did one, it was just almost a fluke, a friend of mine was chatting to me and saying that she volunteers for Soap for Hope and I said “Oh that’s cool what is it?” And they basically give hygiene kits to vulnerable people, that would be people who are homeless, single parents, elderly people on low income, and they normally get all of their product from hotels.
Paul: Oh, okay.
Ros: Oh boy the hotel shutdown and they have a product that they still have lots of people that not only needed that stuff, they needed even more so because of Covid. So she didn’t really have that conversation with me. She was just telling me what they do and she said, “I think you’d really like the Executive Director, I’m going to connect you guys.” And she said “I just have a feeling you’re really going to hit it off.” So we had a chat she tells me that they’re desperate, they’ve run out of product, and she said, “I don’t know where we’re going to get the money, but we’re going to have to just buy it, I guess,” and I said, “why don’t you just ask people to give it to you,” and she’s like, “What?” And I said “I don’t know, people love to help.” And I don’t know about anybody else, but I got tons of stuff at my home that when I travel, I’ll take those little shampoos and all that good stuff. They’re not really using it. And so we connected with Big Brothers and Sisters Greater Victoria, they have such a great planning capability, HeroWork Society, because they know how to do a huge event where people donate things and Soap for Hope and the United Way of Greater Victoria and we had this big “give us your stuff event.” They are stocked for about two years, so it was crazy, it was fantastic. She didn’t even know that it would actually work. Would people even come out? And people came out by the hundreds and thousands and gave, right? Great things can happen.
Paul: It’s great, I mean, I think it’s one of the things we’ve interviewed some people from non-profits and stuff, it’s really just trying to get that message out to people is the difficult part, I think people do want to help people are tuned into recognizing that there’s a lot of need, but maybe just don’t know the best way to answer the call right? So it’s great that you guys were able to step up and help organize that, that’s such a great success story. Dave, you wanted to make a point before we move onto cybersecurity and all the other things we want to talk about.
Dave: Just a high level point. Something like a pandemic really highlights human nature, it’s a big experiment, so you see us adopting, humans adapt and the social side of things, where we customer-focused and we’re emotional and we’re fearful, and it’s this really fascinating but we’re also a species we come together in groups. So I was kind of thinking about that with respect to industries, is there any particular industries you see that they’re doing well or maybe doing poorly, or can you speak to that at all?
Ros: Yes actually, trades are doing very well. Amazingly enough, people are still getting roofs put on houses, all kinds of building is going on. People that are stuck at home, are thinking “hmm maybe we should paint, maybe we should renovate, maybe we should build a garden.” We are seeing so many gardens going in and not just flowers and pretty things but we are seeing tons of gardens, and that not only involves landscapers and gardeners, etcetera, but people that can build all those amazing deer-proof vegetable gardens. So people in those industries, they got more work than they can handle. I mean it’s incredible the amount I’m seeing going in. Masons, our wonderful stone work guys, they’re busy and booked up for the next year. You think why? Well, it’s another kind of effect of being at home and going, “what can I do?” And you’re looking at your own property and thinking, “Oh, we’ve always wanted to do this, and now maybe it’s the time, and by the way, we can’t go on our very expensive vacation and we just got the refund, so now we have some money to spend on something else.” So were seeing a lot of those industries doing incredibly well.
Paul: But part of it is a lot of people, I think are working from home now, right, and if you’re not used to it, and I worked from home a little bit before but not nearly as much as I do now, and so it’s important. Now, I have to spend time here. I actually moved into a different room, we ran some wires to get a better Internet connection, and just a bunch of different things to make this space more comfortable to spend more time because now I spend way more time at home than I ever did before. We used to joke that our cats think we’re the night time visitors because we’d just come home at night and they then hang out with us and then we be gone the next day, but now for some reason, we just stay all the time. And so I think that reality of how much time people are spending at home, you’re going to think about those home improvements a lot more. We’ve uncovered dozens of home improvement projects we probably weren’t even thinking of before this started, just because suddenly you have to stare at this broken shelf all day long “we should fix that shelf. Right, you know what I mean?” And so I’m not surprised to hear with the trades and probably there are a dozen other examples you can give us. Ros you are a wealth of information.
Ros: There’s another thing I was going to say about working at home. Yeah, businesses that sell products like laptops and cameras, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, of course, are doing a booming business, but we see some problems with that as well, and you guys (this is more of your arena than mine,) but we have seen some real problems with cybersecurity scams around targeting people that are working from home, perhaps on equipment that is not very well protected, people trying to work on equipment that really isn’t up to the task, people not having good enough internet connections to do really good zoom meetings and all of these. How many times have you been in a Zoom meeting and somebody’s their images are freezing and crashing and problems with audio and video and everything else. So people have a whole new learning curve of staying safe because we’re seeing an uptick in scams that are online, and they’re targeted at not only business people trying to work from home, but and and by the way, yeah, I’m actually not in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is behind me. I am actually a Better Business Bureau and have been the entire time. I’m not working from home, and my staff equally are here working in the office, but for a while there, we didn’t have some people working at home and…oh boy. Working off a laptop that’s like seven years old, productivity goes right down, huge security and safety concerns, working off equipment that’s not a regular part of our network, maybe not even secure at all. A lot of people don’t even realize the kind of protection that you need to keep scammers away from you, all your…I know that you do whole courses on this…
Paul: We think about security a lot at Smart Dolphins.
Ros: Absolutely. We are going to be doing some upcoming educational releases to people about how to better protect your equipment and stay safe. We have a whole whack of kids doing online learning, and they are super vulnerable to falling for online scams. Those would be the regular phishing scams, downloading apps that should not be downloading, some parents have ended up with large bills or what the kid thought was a free service, in fact it’s not, and people are ending up having to pay money because they didn’t understand that this is not a free application or maybe it was free for a short period of time, then not free. And you guys know this. So exciting. We migrated to Microsoft Teams over the summer, and that was a wonderful thing for my office. And thank you, Smart Dolphins because you did a great job of that.
But I noticed I was suddenly getting all of these requests from everywhere to use services, and I’m like, “where are these people getting my information? Like, what the heck is going on?” And at first, I thought it was perhaps an offshoot of the new security system that we have with our email and Smart Dolphin several times a day sends me a notification to review some of my messages right and tells me whether they need to be just junk or whitelisted.
This morning one of those messages was from Zoom. And I’m like, “oh, okay, no, I’m a Zoom client. I have an account,” so I should say that that’s an okay message, and the message was telling me that they sell my information for marketing purposes to businesses. I’m like, “what?” And that’s why I’m getting all these emails, because they actually sold my information and I’m like, “oh, this is not good. This is kind of what we warn people about in various different releases.”
Paul: It’s a free service, so why is it free?
Ros: I have a paid account with Zoom.
Paul: Although you don’t pay much for what you get, really.
Ros: Yeah, nothing against Zoom but I did not know that they were selling my information to other businesses as leads. So I was getting all of these “use my service for this, that and the other. Very annoying, and I’m just deleting them. And whatever, thinking, “why am I getting these?” And I found out just before this meeting that I could go in and request that that stop immediately. Oh yeah, a little tip. Brand new tip. If you’re on Zoom and you’re business person, make sure that you go into their privacy section, and if you don’t want to get all those prospecting emails, get your information out of there.
Paul: Yeah, well, and it’s interesting because we sign up for new services online really quickly and don’t read the fine print, right? Do you agree to the terms and condition “oh sure.” There’s usually…I shouldn’t say usually, but there’s often a check box that says, “do you agree to receiving communications from third parties” and it’s like, “you can uncheck that box, you don’t have to check it off.” But so many people when they sign up (or maybe it wasn’t even there) I don’t know what Zoom did, but I think they’re supposed to put it in.
Ros: I believe legally that it does in fact have to be there. But we’re all guilty of that, and I go out and do workshops and showing people how to be safe. I always say “we bought a small appliance in the last little while, and it comes with this giant booklet in 18 languages, telling you all of the “whys and wherefores” and do we read that? No, nobody reads it. Straight into the recycle bin. But you have to actually look at it.
Paul: Ros, I think part of the problem you and I have as we could spend three hours talking about stuff, so we should probably…For the sake of our audience, speed up a little bit here. Was there any other points from the BBB survey that you think our audience would really appreciate hearing about?
Ros: Yeah, I think there were a number of challenges and a number of opportunities that were identified. This was a survey that was all of North America, different accredited businesses, giving their opinions and BBBs, and the number one concern, the biggest challenge for any business was managing their cash flow. Okay, and I think any business owner that is, listening to this will be nodding their head and going, “oh my God, yes, every month I am terrified to look at my financials,” It’s like.. “aww.” And I’m sure every business owner, you look at your financials every month is really nervous that they’re going to see some devastating results there, and the second biggest challenge was maintaining health and safety for not only your employees, but your customers, and that’s the second biggest, biggest challenge. In the office that I’m in right now, every time I walk out my office store, it’s like a ballet dance, we are all carriers that just move around in a place of business trying to stay away from each other. “Oh no, somebody just used the photocopier and they didn’t clean it off the…It’s more than challenging and very tiring because you have to think about it all the time.
But on the flip side, and there were other challenges but these were the biggest ones.
There were opportunities, okay. And the number one opportunity that people said that they saw was getting new customers, ones that they hadn’t had before. And at the BBB, we are seeing that. We are actually getting new businesses coming to us because they realize that in this incredibly challenging time, you have to be working with the businesses that you trust, and that’s what we’re all about. And the second opportunity was creating a stronger relationship with your existing customers by really going the extra mile for them, by being there when they need you.
And you guys are great at that. We had a few challenges trying to migrate during Covid. That was somewhat challenging because Paul you were going come onsite.
Ros: And we can’t do that. We have a do it a whole different way, but we found that we had some equipment challenges and your staff had to come onsite and do some stuff for us. And they were amazing. They followed all of the protocols. My staff felt very, very, very comfortable with the experience, and I think that’s what all businesses need to strive to be doing is making their existing customers feel safe and as comfortable and as valued as possible that and admitting the whole time, it’s challenging. At the end of the day, sometimes I’m really tired because we had to go through these challenges during the day, and so I think it’s very important that business owners take care of themselves.
Paul: That’s you Dave.
Ros: You can’t do too many fun things, but you can take care of your health, go for a good long walk. We recommend that for your employees, think outside of the box a little bit. Sometimes just ending a bit early and sending your staff down to the park to get some fresh air might be just what everybody needs.
Dave: We actually started up in Teams a wellness channel, just sharing ideas. What are you doing? Lots of ideas come there outside the box. It’s really critical.
Ros: I think so, because good businesses quite often do a lot of these things all the time, but it’s like everybody needs to really think on this and make sure that their employees and their customers are in the good hands.
Paul: There’s a driving versus flying in an airplane analogy right now, and when you’re driving, you feel pretty safe because you’re in control, even though statistically, you’re actually far less safe than in an airplane where people don’t feel safe because they’re not in control, right. And I think when it comes to finances, and of course even bigger picture, when it comes to people’s health, there’s a feeling of lack of control. You can do everything properly, follow all the right protocols and everything else, but there’s no certainty to anything, right. And I think for a lot of business owners where they’ve built businesses, successful businesses over the course of time, and they learned their market well, they learned what factors are happening in their business, and then all of a sudden all of that becomes unpredictable. Right, and that lack of control, I think could be really stressful and probably take an emotional and mental health toll on people, and it’s interesting because they are, of course trying to look after their staff.
And we’ve been fortunate here because Dave’s a super guy and always sort of looking after the staff really well, but I do worry sometimes and make sure you are taking good care of yourself Dave, but I think he does. But it’s definitely challenging times and it’s always been right? And you deal with entrepreneurs all the time, Ros. It’s very difficult for an entrepreneur to say, “Oh man, I’m really struggling right now” because that’s not the message you want to communicate, the message you want to communicate is, “Oh yeah, business is great and everything’s good, and it’s growing and positive, positive, positive.” And so that’s the message that a successful entrepreneur needs to be evoking at all times, where reality is maybe things aren’t so great and maybe that’s okay.
Ros: Yeah, to get back to 2019 for most businesses is going to take a couple of years, everybody’s been hit to a certain extent, and it maybe just a personal…“I’m struggling, but my business is doing fine,” or it may be my business is really struggling. I watched and I don’t feel mind you sharing, we had a new restaurant move downstairs in our building, wonderful food, French restaurant, and within a week or two of the shutdown, he had to close both of his restaurants and he put a great deal of time and effort and money into the new restaurant, and there he was sitting there by himself, having just lost all of the staff and everything.
Ros: That is so hard and I watched him on daily basis, he would come into the restaurant by himself and sit there every single day trying to figure out what to do. Happy now he’s open, obviously, with the restrictions, restaurants are barely breaking even, so I’m sure they’re looking forward to a time when they can have more customers, so that they can do more than just break even, which is pretty much where most of them are right now. All of those industries tourism, my dear friend, Paul Nursey, I just take my hat off to him for being so resilient, but that industry is just getting hammered.
Paul: And he is the CEO Destination Victoria?
Ros: Destination Victoria all tourism related.
Paul: Formerly, Tourism Victoria, it re-branded a few years ago.
Ros: And you look at the Wilson transportation, they had just invested tons of money in all new vehicles and new ventures to have Covid shut them right down.
Paul: Yeah, we had an interview with a Black Ball the CEO.
Dave: Ryan Burles.
Ros: A fellow rotarian.
Paul: Coho. There’s some good news, but mostly not great.
Dave: It’s tough.
Ros: I think a lot of businesses, and I think we’ve had tons of information go out to businesses about the help that they can get, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is a fantastic resource for that. As a business owner, if you haven’t tapped into their daily sharing of information for all businesses and employers as to what they can access, what is coming down the pipeline in the way of new resources and so on, they are an amazing resource for that.
Paul: So is that something, you can go to their website and sign up for?
Ros: Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and they send out a daily briefing on everything that’s offered to every business, including a lot of really good webinars that they’re doing for businesses. So as a business owner, if you’re not connected into that, I would recommend that you do connect.
Paul: That’s great.
Ros: Now, the other thing we’re seeing is, and this is, it’s a little off-topic for businesses, but in laying bets that every business has family, and in that family there are seniors. Seniors are stuck at home, quite put off and by themselves, or even alone. My 94-year-old neighbor is home alone and has been since December. That’s a long time. Hasn’t been out of the house, period, a lot of our seniors are in that boat. Thank goodness she has an iPad, thank goodness she actually uses it. And so she Facetimes and so on. But even though I’d say 10 years ago, I would talk to seniors and say, “Okay, who’s got an iPhone, who’s got an iPad, who’s got a computer” and I’d get a smattering at hands. Now, most people are connected in some way, shape or form, very few aren’t. But very few seniors still are incredibly savvy when it comes to being online. And so happy days, there’s an organization for that that spans Canada, the US and Australia, and it’s called Cyber Seniors and what they do is they connect a senior with volunteer young person to teach them how to be great on the Internet and all the goodies the internet can offer to them while they’re stuck at home. And it can be done virtually. It can also be done through a number of webinars that they have, it is free, it’s a non-profit that helps seniors, and so anybody out there that’s listening that have senior members that need a little bit of a helping hand, they need to go to cyber seniors.
Ros: The biggest scam going on right now is (and this is business owners in particular, and employees) CERB. There’s lots of scams about CERB. And Canada Revenue, the CRA was compromised, they were hacked into and lots of information was taken, and so people have found that scammers have been collecting money that normally would go to the business or to the employee. They’re taking out accounts in their names, they’re doing all kinds of things. It’s frightening. And so the good news being as Canada Revenue is ahead of this now, and if you are a victim don’t start trying to contact Canada Revenue, in fact you are that they will tell you that and they will do it in a very formal way, most likely through a registered letter or something like that, so you don’t need to try and find out for yourself you will be notified. We had some very prominent people, David Screech, the mayor of View Royal and his account hacked in that particular breach and some scammer took out large amounts of money. This is government aid.
That’s the last thing we need is the government losing money to a bunch of scammers when they need it to give to businesses and employees. Oh my God, it’s terrible. Scary stuff. And so, unfortunately, Covid does not make scammers nicer. They don’t care if your business is struggling, they don’t care if you don’t have money, they don’t care period they will still try and scam whatever is left.
Paul: They don’t care if you’re a senior on fixed income, they don’t care if you’re struggling non-profit, they will take your money and they will run and it’s sad, but we’re not dealing with ethical people, so they don’t follow an ethical guideline.
Ros: And they don’t know you. They don’t care. You’re just a name. A number. An account.
People feel genuinely, like they personally were scammed. Not at all. You’re just a number, and we recommend to people that you just have to be awfully cautious. Pandemics, Covid does not bring out the best in people, and it brings out the absolutely worse in scammers. They’ll still be right in there.
Paul: Well, I think that puts a ribbon on the show, so we’ve gone almost an hour here, which is one of our longer episodes, but no big surprise. So thank you so much, Ross, for joining us today.
Ros: My pleasure.
Paul: You’re just such a wealth of knowledge and it’s always such a pleasure. If we ever do the long format, three-hour version of the show, then I’ll be sure to invite you back for that one, because I think we could probably go that long, but great to see you and good to see you’re in good spirits, and there’s still good news happening in the world and wish you all the very best. And of course, for those of you who are maybe not familiar with Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau – is it vibbb.org?
Ros: Actually, if you just go to bbb.org you can access everything, including all of the resources that we have for businesses around Covid. As a business owner, make sure you take a good look, it doesn’t cost a thing, it’s free for consumers and businesses. Accreditation is a process that is not free, but not required. As a business owner you should definitely make sure that you are at least you in our database.
Paul: Sounds good. And thank you, Dave. Always a pleasure to see you. I see you almost everyday. Of course, you almost to.
Dave: Thank you Ros.
Paul: With that we will wish everybody well, and look forward to hearing from you next week on our next episode of Island Thrive.
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