For long-time Minuteman Press franchise owners Paul and Sharon Rayner, the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything they have experienced in their 18 years of business ownership.
Paul says, “We started just after the dot-com financial downturn in 2002, and we survived the 2008 financial debacle, but we had never experienced anything like COVID-19. Our business was basically shut down overnight. Our decision to be strong financially with our savings will be the most important reason our business will be fine. We have been able to retain all of our employees at just a couple of hours less per week.”
Knowing that other local businesses and customers could use a helping hand at this time, Paul and Sharon introduced a free local marketing website called Bounce Back Westchase. The website allows local businesses to provide special offers and discounts to community members and enables consumers to take advantage of these deals and support local businesses. The Westchase PSP also hands out free COVID-19 prevention posters to anyone interested at no charge.
Paul explains, “Bounce Back Westchase resulted from our franchisor Minuteman Press International starting Bounce Back USA for all franchise owners who wanted to participate. We adapted everything for our area of Houston – Westchase. We involved the local chamber of commerce and business district to attract the businesses. The Houston City Council Members and the local state representatives allow these businesses to get the offers into the hands of potential customers.”
“Businesses have embraced Bounce Back Westchase after we reassure them that this is something we are doing to help our entire community,” Paul continues. “Many businesses have taken advantage of the signage specials we are offering our customers. We let them know that these road signs, banners, and sidewalk signs pay for themselves if they attract a few additional customers.”
One of the lessons the COVID-19 pandemic has taught Paul and Sharon Rayner is to sharpen their social media skills and use referrals such as Google Reviews to generate business. Paul adds, “Incredible customer service and efficient operations make people want to give us positive reviews.” However, the timing has to be just right when asking the customer.
Paul shares advice that can help other local businesses as well, “We keep step-by-step Google Review instructions at the front counter. When a customer tells us how great we are, we pull out the instructions and tell them that it only takes a couple of minutes, and they can do it while we complete the transaction. We let them know that their review is important and helps our business. We also ask for reviews when we do something extra for our customers. We will hand out the Google Review instructions, tell them how important their review will be, and ask for a review.”