Winter Weather Impacting Your Business? Ways to Warm Up Customers and New Opportunities

wINTERCOUPLE_CM9W9UHKKKExtreme winter weather is impacting business. Not only do entrepreneurs have to deal with the actual assault of storms, it is an extra effort to get customers into the mood to spend. Many restaurateurs are experts in finding creative ways to entice customers out of their cars and homes into businesses during winter.

Why are successful restaurants so great at winning customers in winter? They have a lot of experience. Every year, after the winter holidays many customers resolve to lose weight, save money, or even give up on going out. These popular resolutions have prompted restaurateurs to find creative ways to attract new guests.

wINTER_TROPY_TRCKTBXVXSSlashing prices on the menu isn’t the first choice for most restaurants because it cuts profits. Instead, special opportunities for guests and personalized promotions are very popular for many hospitality businesses.  These custom experiences can include classes, competitions, or partnerships for charities or community efforts. Not only can these special events attract positive publicity, it shows customers they’re patronizing a business that gives back to causes they care about.

Restaurants are great at creating customer connections in their communities. Some 94% of U.S. restaurants make charitable contributions, which add up to more than $3 billion a year according to the National Restaurant Association. For example, during the government shutdown hospitality businesses in Washington, Saint Louis, Atlanta and many other cities reached out to furloughed government employees.photo-1514893011-72dfa15bd29c

So what can you do if your business is not in the hospitality industry? Partnerships make it possible for entrepreneurs to expand their reach in their communities. For example, during the government shutdown businesses outside the hospitality industry stepped up to aid restaurants feeding furloughed workers. Offering this help creates connections to long-term loyal customers who will remember long after the event.

WINTER CITY_CNPDGXNQNPIt doesn’t have to be a food event to partner with local businesses and attractions. Think about what sets your company apart and how you use this difference to give back. A car dealership might inspire a video game competition at a popular sports bar or a local wellness center might help sponsor a smoothie tasting event. Coming together on an event or special menu item can connect with customers’ health goals or leisure activities while providing some excitement on cold winter days.

Are you looking for a way to get started? Look around your community and at your calendar. Special days like “Random Acts of Kindness Day”, “World Smile Day” or “Hugging Day” can give you some inspiration for a low cost promotion and perhaps a new partnership to connect with new customers.LUBQRTO8JB_handshake

 

Tips to Drive on Snow Like a Pro

It is a white winter in many parts of the United States with the polar vortex and record-breaking cold. Storms are bringing winter precipitation to normally warm areas including snowfall in Hawaii.

Blowing snow and ice can create poor visibility and challenge the skills of any driver. Professional racer and driving expert Jordi Gené is offering some tips for winter driving.530505

It may be easy to become a white-knuckled driver when facing harsh conditions. Gené says it is vital to plan ahead and stay calm; “Anticipate what’s ahead and take it easy, that’s the basic rule for driving in harsh conditions.”

“Using the engine brake is fundamental. Driving downhill in low gears will help handle the vehicle and it takes a lighter toll on the brakes”, explains Gené.

530507His recommendation applies to both winter and summer, but is especially true in the cold season as at low temperatures the wheels lose grip on the asphalt.

There are shadows on the road and those may hold dangerous surprises Gené cautions: “When driving on snow, pay careful attention to dark patches on the road where there could be black ice. You have to turn the wheel gently and lightly step on the brake until you’re over the ice patch and the wheels begin to gain grip again”, he points out.530506

The driving expert recommends increasing the safety distance between your vehicle and other cars during inclement weather. The professional driver keeps an emergency kit in the vehicle in case there is an accident or a long wait on a highway. Your emergency kit should be personalized to reflect your family’s size and needs, but should contain blankets, water, non-perishable food, first-aid supplies and any other essentials should you become stranded in a winter storm. These steps and frequent inspections of your vehicle will help make your winter travel safer.stocksnap_dmt6vye04m.jpg

Tips to Keep Pets Healthy and Happy in Winter

Chiled_Pup_sofa_StockSnap_6D8141O2SPCold weather is the perfect time for cuddling indoors with your pet. Many people believe cold weather doesn’t bother dogs and cats because they have fur. This is untrue. Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia just like people. Veterinarians advise no pet should be left outdoors for long periods of time in frigid weather. Cats and dogs should be kept inside when it is below-freezing.

It is a good idea to check micro-chip information and check pets’ collars at the beginning of winter because snow and ice mask scent cues that help pets find their way home if they should get separated from their owner.10363504_10204074765253668_1129290927636256801_n

Be aware a warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their resting space under the hood.

There are other pet hazards in your driveway or garage for pets. Keep ice melts, antifreeze and coolant locked away. These chemicals are lethal to dogs and cats. Clean up any spills from vehicles promptly.

Pet paws are sensitive to sand, ice, snow and chemical ice melts. Massage petroleum jelly or another protectant onto paw pads or consider the use of pet booties when your pet goes outdoors in winter.B-Zi-3eCcAA3jJq

When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice it could be deadly

Some pets are more tolerant to the cold than others. However, some dogs and cats may benefit from a vest or coat designed for pets to offer a little more insulation. Don’t forget your pet’s skin. The combination of cold air and dry indoor heat can impact their skin. Itching and flaking may result, causing pets to scratch. Maintain humidity in the home and reduce bathing to help preserve essential oils on your pet’s skin.

Cold weather can aggravate some health issues such as arthritis. The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests scheduling a wellness visit with a veterinarian to check for any medical issues to be prepared for winter.

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Say My Name

There is a song stuck in my head. “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child. I know when it got stuck there and why. Each time I hear it, I recall a blustery day that became warmer because of a name tag.

It was a cold and wet start to my morning. Gusty winds made it impossible to use an umbrella as the rain rapidly turned to snow. It was a grey day outside but a bright spot for me. It was to be the first day of a new way to help some of my neighbors. I’d done some research and was full of ideas I believed could make a positive impact. As I drove along slushy side streets, it began to snow harder and 40-mile-per-hour winds whipped the flakes around limiting visibility. I arrived early and was dismayed to discover there was no place to park! I was driving around the lot looking for an empty parking space when the call came not to come in to work as scheduled. A computer crash was putting my plans for a new bigger mission on hold.

The snow was falling faster. I turned up the radio to hear it would not continue at the rapid pace much longer. The radio meteorologist called it a ‘fast-moving clipper’ with big, sloppy flakes. In a short time, driving would be easier according to the forecast. So rather than return home, I headed to a coffee shop in my favorite shopping area to wait for the snow to pass.

The coffee shop was packed as many other customers were taking a java break and waiting for the snow to slow. The line was long. Some of the coffee shop’s employees were delayed due to winter’s latest blast. Just one person was working to handle the customers at the counter and the window. I was waiting in the long line when, someone asked me if the folded newspaper on a table was mine. After I said it was not, the person behind me tapped me on my shoulder. I turned around to see a neatly dressed young man with a smile as bright as the sun.

He exclaimed, “I thought it was you, but I could not see your face. When I heard your voice I was sure.”

I stammered, “Hello, how are you?”

I attempted to place the friendly, engaging face before me. I did not have a clue. I decided to come clean and attempted to frame my inability to place him in our shared quest for caffeine.

“Please forgive me, I don’t recall your name. I can’t even remember my own name until I get some coffee,” I sheepishly explained.

The smile grew bigger, “Oh sure you do. Every time you come into my line at the store, you say, Hello, Steve. You have two white dogs who like Purina dog food. I helped take it to your car. I saw them in their back-seat dog house. You remember me.”

And he was right. Now, I did remember him. I recalled he found amusement in my dog’s frantic barking as he placed groceries beside their car-crate in the back seat. Believe me, very few people find the charm in their expressive nature right away. No, I had not recalled his name; but I did not forget his delight and wonder in how such small dogs could produce major vocal eruptions.

I always try to use people’s names when I see them on uniforms, tags or receipts. It is a practice I learned in my high-school and college retail jobs. When checking out customers I would use their names from checks or credit cards as I thanked them for their business and asked them to come again. So without his name tag on, I did not remember Steve’s name. But I recalled his enthusiasm for bagging groceries and his courteous regard for my pets.

I told him I did remember him loading the dog food into the car.

Nodding, he replied, “I have a good memory. I like your dogs and I like it when you say hello.”

I asked Steve how long he had worked at the neighborhood supermarket. I learned he began at Schnucks Markets through Paraquad, a St. Louis based non-profit that assists  individuals living with the challenges of a disability.

It was finally my turn at the counter and I ordered my coffee and hot chocolate for Steven. He took his cup to go as he walked next door to work at Schnucks. I sat down to drink my coffee and waited for the weather to clear.

It wasn’t just the coffee or the clearing skies improving my mood. I was happy to connect with Steve and be reminded of the power of a person’s name. A name used correctly can convey respect and appreciation. The moment we hear our name our ears perk up. It doesn’t take extra time to make an effort to recognize the other person as an individual. Such a simple part of social interaction; greeting someone with their name. Make an impression: say their name.

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