Small Biz Insider: How a Downtown Family-Owned Business is Adapting to a Changing Business Landscape
Haig Tcholakian, co-owner, Phoenicia Foods Specialty Foods joined the Partnershipâs Small Biz Insider series to share how the downtown specialty grocer has adapted through the various phases of the COVID-19 Â pandemic and his advice for other small businesses navigating this uncertain time.Â
Tcholakian and his sister Ann-Marie Tcholakian manage one of the three locations his family operates. Throughout the pandemic, the grocery store has remained operational and MKT Bar, the in-house restaurant and bar known for its karaoke nights and live music, reopened recently with limited capacity. Â
From the first six weeks after the Stay Home Work Safe order until now, Tcholakian highlights key lessons learned from the storeâs experience adjusting to the pandemic measures over time and insights for other small businesses reopening or regaining footing. Here are five takeaways from the conversation with Tcholakian:Â
Remember what you do well â Your customers shop with you for a reason. Bring that to the forefront of what you are doing now, lead with that and continue to orient your adjustments and new efforts around your core mission.
Understand itâs a learning process â As a business thatâs been open the entire time, we figured out most of our processes through trial and error. It took us six weeks to understand what works best for us. There isnât a one-size fits all approach, but there are certain steps you can take to protect your business, your employees and your customers. Read the Reopen Houston Report, a resource guide containing industry-specific best practices to aid businesses in reopening or expanded their operation and guidance for employers.
Communicate with customers about the measures you are taking â You want customers to feel comfortable in your store and in your place of business. Make sure they are aware of the efforts being taken and how they can participate in the new processes.
Reorient staff to meet new needs â Weâve designated certain staff as âCOVID cleaners" who focus on sanitizing door handles, buttons, high traffic areas, counters, etc. Dedicating staff to this effort allows us to be as thorough as possible.
Invest in an online presence â we are currently exploring ways to expand our product selection online. We have a website but because we have thousands of products, itâs been a challenge to house that inventory online. However, itâs going to be crucial to have moving forward and to our future success.Â
Click here for more COVID-19 resources and guidance for small businesses and sign up for email alerts from the Partnership as the situation develops. To aid companies planning to reopen or expand their operations, the Partnership is sharing Work Safe principles to help businesses protect the health of their employees and customers, minimizing the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.Â
The Small Biz Insider is a digital series highlighting the innovative business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders of the greater Houston area who are making a big impact in the small business community.Â