Entrepreneur Charlie McCoy on how he transformed his brands during emergency times

Earlier in 2020, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had fully spread, leaving countless small businesses and large enterprises impacted. In particular, ventures in their startup and budding phases took the unfortunate brunt of the economic consequences of the global tragedy, with most of them closing down over the past few months. And taking heed of this alarming situation, the esteemed owner of Artisan Barber and Orchard & Ludlow, stepped into the challenge of shedding light on how his business was able to stay afloat despite the dire circumstances.

Widely acknowledged for having others’ best interests at heart, Charlie McCoy decided to come up with a blueprint geared towards entrepreneurs and business owners who are trying to survive and thrive in this COVID-19 economy. As the founder of one of the most successful barbershops in New York City, he took it upon himself to share with the world how he was able to stay on top of his game even during the pandemic.

According to Charlie McCoy, the first thing that any business owner should do is make a plan. With this emergency pandemic plan, entrepreneurs must give themselves enough runway or allowance for a couple of months that would be spent on calibrating expenses against the expected and desired revenue. The Artisan Barber owner also added that being resourceful can come in handy. For instance, finding ways to pursue government funding like pandemic relief programs can help proprietors bridge the gaps.

What to do if your state shuts down? The number one thing you want to do is make a plan. Again, This is an Emergency Pandemic Plan. You want to give yourself enough runway for three, six, nine, twelve even up to eighteen months of calibrating your expenses versus your expected revenue and even your payroll. For your plan you need to figure out how much revenue you can pivot to, so you have products or if you can do house calls or take gift cards, you need to add those. If there are members of the team who need to be furloughed to access government funding, that should be considered. And if there are expenses on your balance sheet like different types of SAS services, etc, you want to look into pausing those during your shutdown. See if you can find ways to pursue government funding, such as pandemic relief or government grants to help you bridge the gaps.

Communicating with your barbers and staff before, during and after closures: The number one thing you want to do is make sure there’s a clear line of communication. You could consider using something like Slack or Basecamp, or keep an old fashioned email chain or group text going. During my first closure, I had everyone on a group text and we would just check in from time to time, just to make sure we were sane and healthy and keep each other abreast of what’s going on in terms of reopening or company initiatives to keep things afloat. However you decide to do it, communication is key. Beforehand making sure everyone’s mentally prepared, during the time checking in on everyone’s health and safety and when you reopen making sure that the team can come together to figure out the best way forward in terms of PBE, social distancing and keeping everyone safe.

How to keep your clients coming back: Communication is the key. Making sure that there’s some sort of email or some sort of host that they can check in with. Or different videos. We were able to utilize our social media through a Go Fund Me campaign, through our YouTube channel and word of mouth in order to keep our clients in the loop as to our reopening.

Taking care of your mental health: One of the things that helped me was that I began to schedule a daily 45 minute to 2 hour walks along the East River near my Uptown apartment in Manhattan. This allowed me to get fresh perspective everyday as I would walk and think about some of the business problems I would have to solve. It was also good for my overall health, making sure I wasn’t just stagnant inside of my apartment. I made sure that I kept up on interesting things in terms of my reading schedule. Also, daily giving thanks for the fact that you’re alive is something that in terms of spirituality has helped me continue to stay grounded even though there are tons of different obstacles in our lives.

How to increase your online presence: One thing you want to keep in mind is that it doesn’t matter if you have the greatest shop or the greatest product in your area, it doesn’t matter if no one’s ever heard about it. Some of the things you want to do is think about press. Are there different articles, platforms or individuals that you can collaborate with to get the message out about your service or product. Do you have daily Facebook posts, are you utilizing Google My Business, are you using Yelp My Business, these are things where you can submit free posts and get a lot of views through Google and end up in an organic Google search because of your consistency. Definitely make sure you have two or three or four different landing pages with different audiences that you could go after to make them aware of your product or service.

How to keep your clients returning safe and healthy:

Well there are a lot of tools in the industry. For instance, Barberside was able to put a checklist that goes over standard operating procedures during this particular time. For instance, how to keep your salon clean, how to make sure you have proper PPE, even things like contactless payments, booking online are all things that may help. Now, the thing is we don’t know if the science is clear that everyone has to make sure that they don’t touch certain things and where gloves and sanitize their hands ten times a day, but really it’s about perception and how you make your customer’s feel and about branding and responsibility. Just making sure you follow the guidelines goes a long way to making your customers’ mind be at ease, so that they can bring their children and loved ones to your establishment for services and products. It’s the principle of taking care of your customers instead of the actual day to day tasks and how perhaps doing some of these things can be an annoyance but you want to do your part to keep people safe.

As someone not immune to the pandemic-related economic fallout, Charlie McCoy has had to adjust his businesses as well. They were shut down for three months after lockdown measures were imposed. For him, that time provided him the opportunity to analyze the direction his company was moving in, as well as its long-term profitability. That’s what led to the founding of his Artisan Barber product line, as well as the relaunching of his downtown Artisan Barber location into a unisex salon called Orchard & Ludlow. Charlie also acquired the European men’s grooming brand Duke & Hyde, which gave him access to a number of hair products he didn’t have before.

All of these shrewd business moves allowed Charlie to bounce back from significant obstacles that could have led to a permanent shutdown of his business.

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