By Ryan D. Mayer, owner of Mayer Building Company, shares his thoughts and what he’s doing to cope with COVID-19.
We’re now more than a month into the current Coronavirus pandemic crisis and I find it hard to concentrate in the same way I did before. Priorities and activities have shifted dramatically in family, wellness, friendships, business and other pursuits. For this writing I am focus on the impacts to myself in business and my business.
Though Louisiana Governor’s Proclamation 33 JBE 2020 Stay-at-Home Order left my business available to maintain its “open” status, my business is hardly truly “open,” like most folks’ I think. I am the owner of a small commercial New Orleans general contracting firm and the majority of my work is shuttered by the nature of the uncontrollable forces associated with the crises.
Here’s a quick timeline that most of you will recognize:
1) Distress and/or recognizance of the news, appropriate leadership reactions (following CDC guidelines and communicating with all stakeholders) and maintaining an “OK” business status.
2) Further uncontrollable developments and shifting to “OK-ish.”
3) Impacts and uncertainty prevalent, now “Not OK” business-wise and seeking government relief.
So, as I (and everyone in the world) have been going through this timeline, I share what I’ve been doing and what I will continue to do. (This is not an advice column; this is just to say…)
My stakeholders at my work can generally include three groups: customers, vendors and employees. What I’ve been doing and continue to do with all three groups is a simple telephone call campaign to “check-in,” not talk shop and ask how they’re holding up. It’s nice. It makes me feel good, but also allows folks who need to talk/vent/ share a willing ear.
Besides the call campaign, with customers I am keeping communication flowing — whether it’s regarding an active or shuttered project — with emails/pictures/calls/ status reports and so on.
With vendors, I am trying to pay as fast as I can. I am seeking their input on existing work, new work and eventually the “new normal” post COVID work-to-be.
With employees, I am checking in often (maybe too often, maybe not often enough), sharing my thoughts on payroll, progress and traction with the PPP & EIDL that I seek.
With all stakeholders I have kept in mind “Leadership in Turbulent Times,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin and “10 Strategies In a Crisis,” credited to Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach.
Since I have the actual luxury of keeping busy, I will be doing so.
With help from trusted resources, I am trying to imagine the work I can sell post-COVID-19. I am certainly not trying to sell anything right now, as I think that would be bad form, but I am preparing to do so when appropriate. I am assembling conceptual teams to “re-activate” shuttered business once the storm passes. (Think disinfecting cleaners, air conditioner servicemen, landscapers to control the overlooked and overgrown flora). I am hoping to conceive of components that may become the “new normal” in construction sites and improvement projects: sneeze guards, (both simple and elaborate), installing automatic door openers, new filtration and handwashing stations, et. al.
I am doing a little continuing education for myself with cheapened online courses. I’ve also asked my designer colleagues to send me some information on their wildest/shoot-the-moon type projects now while we “flatten the curve.” My company can price them up and it gives us some activity while perhaps bringing their most ambitious or high reaching projects a step closer.
Of course, we have our regular estimating and administrative duties that have carried over to me and my awesome staff working from home. All that being said, the most important thing I am doing right now is thinking and caring.
I care how I will change because of this unprecedented modern event. I am thinking about how I will change for the better, which I hope to do in all things outside of business (family, self, et al), but I also hope to change for the better professionally. I care about my hometown, New Orleans. I will be thinking about how my company and myself can be better and more active New Orleanians.
I care about how my company will fare and look on the other side. I care very deeply about my stakeholders and I will be thinking about how to better convey that to them, now and in the future.
Besides being the owner of Mayer Building Company, Mayer’s personal portfolio includes renovations at Le Petit Theatre, Harrah’s Casino, the Baryshnikov Dance Studio and the Matthew Williamson flagship store in Manhattan, and numerous French Quarter properties. Mayer can be reached at email@example.com.