Ep. 29

How small businesses can stay strong and united as we continue to combat COVID 19

with guest Lechelle Yates of the Better Business Bureau.

HST Ep 29

Brian: Well, on today’s episode of the Home Service Toolbox we are joined by Lechelle Yates of the Better Business Bureau. The BBB is here to help consumers find and work with businesses that they can trust. And today, we’re going to learn a little bit more about the BBB, what they do, and specifically how business owners and consumers can navigate the constant changes we’re facing during the Covid-19 outbreak. Stay tuned for the twenty-ninth episode of the Home Service Toolbox.

Male Speaker: A podcast dedicated to helping home service providers. Every Wednesday, your hosts, Brian and Olivia will interview leading experts in both the home service field as well as companies who support the small business owner. Our guests will help you nail down what will and what won’t work to grow your business, whether you are on a job site or taking a break there is no better time to sharpen your small business skills.

Lechelle: And now I cannot hear you.

Brian: Hey, Olivia, how are you today?

Olivia: I am great, Brian. I am outside enjoying the fresh air for the first time in a while so I cannot complain. How are you?

Brian: I am doing well. It is kind of, crazy. You know, the whole remote gatherings that we have. Everyone is kind of working from home outside and, you know, as we said, we were also joined by Lechelle. How are you doing today Lechelle?

Lechelle: Pretty good. I wish I had been as smart as Olivia and gone outside. What a fabulous idea.

Brian: Yeah, this weather has been nice lately. You know, we will see what happens in the summer. You know, you never know with North Carolina weather it can be very nice, comfortable summers and then it can be brutal within minutes. We are not here to talk about the weather. We are actually here to talk about the business and life related to all things with business and so Lechelle we are glad to have you. You are the Director of Communications at the Better Business Bureau and specifically, you are with the Central and North-West part of North Carolina.

Lechelle: Yep.

Brian: So we are glad that you are here and before the BBB, you used to be an investigative reporter on WFMY News. That sounds really, interesting we may have to go into that.

Lechelle: Yes.

Brian: But she joined the BBB to continue busting bad guys and warned people about scams and also to shine the light on the good businesses that you have in the community. It sounds like you have an interesting background before the BBB. So why don’t we actually jump right into that? What drew you to the investigating reporting aspect and catching bad guys, as you suggested?

Lechelle: Well, it really was the catching bad guys. I mean, I started out as like your general assignment reporter and, you know, go cover the town hall and the fire and all of that stuff but my passion was exposing bad guys and, you know, helping consumers if they were scammed by a company so that’s why I went into the investigative reporting. That is really, what drove me the whole time that I was there.

Brian: Well, that is pretty, interesting. Do you have any, like, special bad guys you remember during your time that you know this or like always in the back of your mind and you’re really proud that you helped save the world from them?

Lechelle: Saved the world. Yes. Actually, we had a gentleman who was doing mortgages and like reverse mortgages and also telling people he could get them out of bankruptcy and all he was doing was taking their money and not actually providing the service. We were able to get him arrested and he actually spent some time in prison.

Brian: Wow!

Olivia: Wow.

Lechelle: Yeah, I felt really, good about that. I have another favourite guy he is an unlicensed HVAC repair person, and he’s unlicensed. He has been sanctioned by the state several times. In fact, they just put him in jail late last year because he was working again so it’s following people like that I love to do that. And, you know, that’s kind of one of the things that BBB is helpful with, is that, you know, the state and local agencies like the FTC and the AG, they come to us because they know that we’re investigating businesses. We get to do the investigation and then hand them the information, which makes their job a lot easier. So then, he is a guy that I followed when I was at the station and then I’ve been following here with him while I’m at BBB.

Brian: Wow!

Olivia: That is incredible. So what made you pivot from that position to joining the BBB?

Lechelle: Well, I felt like BBB was a natural fit because I do still get to talk about the bad guys and help with investigations and do those kinds of things and, you know, you may or may not know people can probably tell from TV news. You know, we are out there at 5:00 a.m. in the snow and things like that. And so this is just a chance to continue doing what I love but have better hours and actually, you know, have a little bit of a life so I was really thrilled. The guy who left, always say the best decision he ever made was to quit so I can have his job.

Olivia: That is awesome.

Brian: You got to be honest.

Lechelle: Right.

Olivia: So what does a typical bad guy look at the BBB, if you don’t mind my asking because it’s not something I’m super familiar with.

Lechelle: So for us, a bad guy is a, you know, a contractor anybody who takes consumer’s money and then does not do the job or does not finish the job and you would be surprised. There unfortunately, are a lot of people. I mean, we have all heard about the three guy who comes to the neighbourhood after the storm and he’ll say, hey, you know, I’m already in the neighbourhood I can do your trees really, cheap. Then what he does is it gets towards the end of the day and he’s like, well, tell you what, you finish paying me, but I will be back tomorrow to finish and he never shows up. You name it. Those are those are really the, when we say a bad guy that’s what we do. Although we have had a contractor that we’ve followed and worked with the news on who was claiming to be a general contractor and was actually showing fake general contractor licenses from the state so that’s a variation of a bad guy because he needed a license and didn’t have one, but claimed he did. We were able to work with the state and, you know, help them work with him and prosecute him for what he was doing. A bad guy is anybody that really is going to rip off the consumer in some fashion, typically it deals with money for the most part and taking money, not doing the job or not finishing the job.

Brian: Well, my question is related to gender, so we have been picking on the bad guy. Are there bad women? I mean, you know, is it gender specific? I am just curious.

Lechelle: It is not gender specific. In fact, we had a company here that was offering online courses for medical coding, she was taking people’s money, they get halfway through the courses, and then the site would shut down. She would not refund their money and hers was supposed to be a great opportunity because after you went through the medical coding, you were then going to have a job with her or an internship. And so that’s why a lot of people were signing up with her, because as we all know, to get a job, you got to have experience, but you’ve got to have a job to get experience. So they were really drawn to her and she was able to have a lot of people sign up and then ended up taking their money. So, yes, there are definitely bad girls out there.

Brian: Well, I appreciate you could be shedding some light on that because I was feeling a little, you know.

Olivia: You are not being ganged up on don’t worry Brian.

Lechelle: Not at all.

Brian: So, you know, so thinking about the Better Business Bureau. You know, sadly, the only time that a lot of people think of them is I’m going to report you to the BBB kind of shed some light into obviously that Better Business Bureau is just way more than the reports and getting reported to and a place that well tell us about the place.

Lechelle: Sure, yeah. I mean, you are right. People think of us. I am going to report you to the Better Business Bureau or I am going to file a complaint and we love that we are here for that. Obviously, I love talking about the bad guys that are out there and how we can shut them down but we’re also here to talk about the good guys. Again, that was part of the reason what drew me to BBB, too, was and you finally had a chance to talk about good guys. People might actually smile when they see me coming, but it is not only bad news. So besides filing a complaint, what consumers do is they come to our website bbb.org and they can search a business to see what their letter grade is, to see what their reviews are and also to see if they’re accredited with us. BBB accreditation means that we have screened a business, done a background check if they need a license we make sure they have a license. You know all of that kind of information and then if they pass all of those tests, then we send their nomination to our board of directors, which is made up of other business owners. Then, you know, they approve or not approve a business. The other thing that people look for when they come to our website, besides the letter grade, reviews, is the BBB accredited business seal.

Oh, and I should have had it. I do not think I can bring it up on my phone very fast but it is a seal. It has our torch and underneath it, it says accredited business. By working with an accredited business, those businesses, if for some reason you had a problem and you filed a complaint, then those businesses have actually have to respond to a complaint. You are free to file against any business that you have had a problem with but if they are not accredited, sometimes they do not respond. A lot of them do because they care about their letter grade and not responding to a complaint will definitely lower your letter grade, but with a BBB accredited business, you know, they are going to respond. It does not always mean that you get the answer you wanted but at least you are going to get a response back from the business. We are there to work with the business and the consumer and, you know, and try to come to some meeting of the middle, because, I mean, sometimes definitely, you know, even the best company can make a mistake. Maybe they are not seeing that they made that mistake and they need to go ahead and maybe give a refund or come back out one more time to finish something. Then the others, obviously also consumers that have some unrealistic expectations and we are there to help the business work with that consumer as well.

Brian: That is a wealth of knowledge, and I know Olivia has some questions to jump into but I actually mentioned years and years ago that we had someone file a complaint against us. The only time that has ever happened and I do not know if this is the right terminology but we won. We did all the information and, you know, the customer was just falsely accusing us.
Lechelle: Yeah.

Brian: And so, you know, I think, you know, maybe those thinking that, you know, it is always going to be sway to the consumers, the customer is always right. In this particular case, it was not and we won. I mean, I think you guys are definitely doing a service that’s needed, so.

Lechelle: Well, thank you. We try really, hard and we try not to let consumers get away with anything. We got a lot of folks now who are trying to file complaints and say they’re Covid-19 related and they’re not really they’re just trying to get out of paying a bill or something like that. So, you know, we try to be really mindful and make sure that a complaint that’s filed is a real complaint and that’s what’s so great and why we always hate it when a business doesn’t respond, because we know there’s two sides to every story. We are only here and what the consumer says. So we need to know what the business is saying, you know, explain but a lot of times, I think businesses are just afraid that, again, it’s going to be one sided. We are going to take the consumer side and that is definitely not, what we do at all.

Olivia: Well, that’s great that you can hear both sides to every story, to your point, and that was actually going to tie in to my question was obviously we’ve been dealing with so many changes and so many inconsistencies in the news and people taking advantage of the Coronavirus season that were in. I was going to ask if you have seen any changes in business strategies or had any cases come up, since Covid-19 has really taken flight in the Carolinas or if you have seen any positive effects actually come out of the virus as well. Because obviously there are some good things, we have been able to see in the news and then some bad things we have been able to see in the news. I was wondering if that is applicable to you guys at the BBB as well.

Lechelle: We have had a few people, like I said, file the Covid-19 related cases and they’re not really honestly, we have not had a consumer file against a business here and it be legitimate. So we haven’t had any reports of price gouging here. I think we have been really, lucky and I think that that does say something about the quality of the businesses that we have in our community, which makes us really, fortunate. Does that answer your question?

Olivia: Yes.

Lechelle: We have been trying to gauge, are we getting more complaints or fewer complaints and it is really running about the same. People are still coming to us because we do still have lives. You know, we are buying stuff online and all of those kinds of things. So there are going to be issues that can come up and of course, I think one thing that people don’t understand is that there are a lot of businesses that you might not think are essential businesses that are out there doing work. Landscapers, for example I would have never considered that a, you know, an essential business, somebody to come, you know, trim my shrubs but landscapers do so much more and they’re needed to do water mitigation around the house and, you know, cut that tree before it falls on your house in the next storm. So I really urge people to think about, you know, is my business open if you want to do business with them, but also at the same time, you are going to have the ones that are shut down or maybe they don’t have all of their employees. So, you know, being maybe a little extra patient with them and that is what we’re doing, too. We have kind of lengthen our response time for businesses so that they have a little extra time, because we know that, you know, these are very unusual circumstances.

Brian: Unusual is an understatement but I think, you know, what is happening is that businesses are having to pivot. So what are some of the things that you are seeing just with, you know, the businesses that you are working with and accredited businesses and how they are really overcoming this current season that we have ourselves in?

Lechelle: Well, I know this is not necessarily overcoming. We have had a lot of businesses express to us frustration about the Small Business Administration and loans. I am glad to see that hopefully the house is going to pass it next but we are going to get more money in the PPP and the EI I forgot the rest of the abbreviation, but the two programs that came out under the Cares Act. So I’m glad to see that money is going to go into those. We have had businesses that have had a hard time. They, you know, banked with somebody and they are all out of money. Then, you know, some banks say, well, you already had to be a customer with us. So we’ve been helping businesses kind of connect with all of those resources. You know, we do hear reports every now and then of the business that has pivoted and, you know, they’re doing something like making the masks or I think there’s a brewery here in town that is making hand sanitizer. So, you know, it’s great to see businesses that are kind of learning on the fly. Of course, we are doing everything that we can.

We have a website called bbbshoplocal.org and it is just for our accredited businesses. We gave them the opportunity to go online and say, you know, we are a granite showroom and we are still open. We are an essential business. People need to get work done on their houses and, you know, our showroom is open by appointment only instead of just being open so call us ahead of time if you want to come in and of course, we’ll do the social distancing. It is giving businesses an opportunity to say, hey, we are still here we are still open. You know, come do business with this and this is how we are open. So if you scroll down, we partner with the other BBBs in the state and so there you can see if you can scroll down we’ve got the central region and the northwest region and that’s how we broke out the businesses. You can see their website, their phone number.

Brian: That is great.

Lechelle: Yes. One way, the other way, and I do not have an example to show you. We are going to roll out tomorrow is on our website, when you search [Inaudible 00:18:09 – 00:18:12] their logo [Inaudible 00:18:13] we are going to replace their logo if they want us to, with a green box that says we are open. So, again, letting consumers know we are open and willing to help you out during this time.

Brian: I think that is great. You know, and businesses are having to pivot and change, you know. I went to a business yesterday that, you know, everything on their website, everything on Google said they were open and then I went there and their hours were closing early and, you know, I get it. I mean, I understood but I think you have to be able to communicate. I think, you know, being able to provide people the resources to be able to communicate up to date information that is going to be really, key.

Lechelle: Yeah, and when people would send us, so I have been in charge of collecting all of those responses. And, you know, some businesses, they might not put anything in for that little section so I would go to their website and I would see nothing had changed so I have to reach out and say, okay, you know, is it. Are you still open eight to five and I can just walk in whenever I want or, you know, what are you doing differently, if anything? If they are not doing anything differently, we list that too. Yeah, we just want consumers to know that. The other thing that, you know, a lot of times people don’t consider and we’re very conscious of them and most of our businesses that are accredited with us have fewer than twenty employees and a lot of them have one to five. We always try to think about the business owner who is also the one that is doing the work and he has been out all day doing the job. Then he comes home. He needs to send out his invoices so he can get paid. He has bills to pay and often marketing and trying to connect with consumers is one of the last things on their mind, unfortunately. We think that this is a way, too, that we can start use some of that burden on some of our businesses.
Olivia: That is wonderful, because communication now more than ever is so important and being able to be transparent and providing that service. I mean, we deal with so many small business owners and home service providers on a daily basis who are constantly trying to find new avenues to communicate and connect to their consumer because it has just been so difficult. So the fact that you’re able to provide that service is really wonderful.

Lechelle: One of the other things we have been doing, we have two different micro sites and a mini sites up to help businesses. One of them is bbbrust.info and on there, we are listing webinars. We have partnered with Chambers and the Small Business Center and a lot of other folks who are offering webinars. Some of the webinars are on things like how to use text messaging to stay in contact with your customers. How to pivot and giving people ideas and checklists on what you need to be doing right now to make sure that, you know, in a couple of weeks, if this continues to last so long that you know that you have the money there. So we’re happy to be able to provide that information for folks as well, because we know it’s hard. Again, that is the last thing people have time for, is to try to go out there and search out one of those webinars to get the information. The last webinar that is going to be tomorrow is with businesses who were able to apply for their PPP and the other programs and so they are going to be on a webinar or conference call – yeah lessons learned by real local small business owners. Because there is going to be more money, it has not been an easy process, and so we are really, excited that we can tell businesses about this webinar so that they can listen in and find out what tips and tricks they need to know once the money is actually back in.

Brian: Yeah, interestingly, you know, we have had found that same thing with our business. You know, trying to get the funds and I was able to tell our team that we got the initial advance yesterday.

Lechelle: Oh, great!

Brian: I have not heard anything, you know, I literally have not been in contacted by anyone. You know people are saying I am part of all these Facebook groups and, you know, hearing about these businesses they are doing and some people are getting credit checks and some people are not. I did not get my credit checked, but SBA saying they are not checking credit but then like people obviously are. There is so much information that is out there that is either incorrect or not correct. So I think that webinar is great because I think, you know, actually hearing from people that have either received the money or in the process of receiving money, you can actually does speak to what they’ve experienced and whether it’s going to be repeatable or not for them, at least there’s some information.

Lechelle: Yeah. Well, and one of the other things I just sent out an email today our accredited businesses. There are other funds that are available not just with the PPP and some other things so I found, I do not know, six or seven different organizations that say they still have money and they are still holding applications. So we sent that information out to our businesses today in case they wanted to try to tackle that. Of course, there is other funds that have already been depleted and so we are just trying to be a good source of information for businesses.

Brian: And there is such a need. I was on a different webinar with SBA and INC and there was a new grant that was offered I think went live sometime this week, maybe it was last week, I don’t remember, and it crashed the entire website. Then we will get access. I mean, it just shows how many people need support and funds. This is completely off the topic of what, I mean it is a complete off topic, but you know, so I had someone share that they were getting frustrated. They were sharing on Facebook that they were getting frustrated by seeing people complain that when businesses are shutting down due to this, they have gift cards, and they are unable to get them refunded. And, you know, I understand from a consumer side, okay, we paid for something we’re not going to get but on the flip side, there’s just no compassion to what’s happening. So, you know, fortunately, I mean, I’m hoping that there’s, you know, less and less businesses are going to be impacted having to shut down. But could you speak to this maybe some recommendations that you could give to business owners that are having to maybe make some tough choices about maybe pivoting and changing services and solutions and a pricing in ways that customers are not used to and could face some backlash or frustration from the consumer side?

Lechelle: Sure. We would say just try to be as transparent as possible and explain why you are making the decision. You know if you are not able to honour gift cards anymore or whatever the explanation, maybe you have been working on a kitchen project and now you know you cannot get the supplies because they are not out there. You cannot get workers because, you know, we are doing the social distancing. I think being as transparent as possible. Do not be afraid to tell consumers the truth that will shut down, anybody faster than anything. You know, when I was doing investigative reporting and you approach somebody and you are like, hey, X, Y and Z happened and they are like, you know what, we made a mistake and we are sorry. That shuts people down faster than anything. Businesses I would say do not be afraid to if you do end up making a mistake. Do not be afraid to say we made a mistake. We are sorry. Consumers are very forgiving when you do that kind of thing. For the most part, every now and then you get one that is not but again, just to be honest with people and tell them what is going on in your business. Hopefully, that will help them feel compassion, because, I mean, of course, unfortunately, we’re all a little self-centred and we are all only thinking about ourselves. Hey, I spent fifty bucks now and I cannot go eat at that restaurant.

You know, but think about the restaurant sitting there. They could lose their entire livelihoods for opening their restaurant and being a restaurant owner. Then you have all the people that they employed. So the more that we can keep small businesses open during this, the better. So, again, just be transparent, be honest, over communicate, you know, get something put up on your website or put it on social media about what is going on. If you do get reviews, this is one thing people may be filing reviews because they are unhappy. Research shows that consumers do read the responses and a good business response can negate what that consumer is saying. You know, we always tell businesses it is so personal. You get a complaint and you read it and you are like, how dare they and you start typing really, fast. Then, you know, they spit back the response and it is like, oh, I wish they would have just thought for a second. You know, maybe I should not have said it quite that way so, you know, consumers really do read those responses. And it shows if the consumer, the one that’s reading the reviews, if they ended up having a problem, it shows how the business is going to respond to them as well and consumers think about that.

Olivia: Do you have any tips for business owners who might be getting those bad reviews and are feeling the heat of their emotions right now and want to take it out and be a keyboard warrior and they really shouldn’t.

Lechelle: Step away from the keyboard. Read it, process it, think about it, but do not respond automatically. Get somebody else to read your response to see if it is measured and make sure you state facts. Unfortunately, that is one of the things that consumers often do not do, is they embellish. They want to show how frustrated they are and they may use some words that maybe are not exactly true or very inflammatory. We always encourage businesses to just, stick to the facts. Do not do name-calling. I do not care what they called you, don’t name call them. By stating the facts, consumers can read that and they can understand. You do not have to say this business or this consumer is lying and here is why I did X, Y and Z. You know, take out the consumers lying and say, you know, we are sorry that you are unhappy with the service here is what transpired. Again, if you made a mistake, admit it and say we are so sorry and here’s what we’re going to do to rectify the situation. Again, consumers read that and they love to see that kind of stuff.

Brian: Apologizing is like, I do not know. That is like my pet peeve. So many people do not know how to apologize or maybe they have been trained to if they apologize they are admitting guilt. Bad customer service and then when someone does not just admit, like if someone can just admit it for me it just sets my, you know, everything better for me. I am glad that you’re saying all this because, you know, because we’re a marketing company that we deal with all this digital stuff and clients are, you know, having Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and, you know, YouTube and Google My Business, BBB and all these other things. They are like, I just do not want it out there, because then, you know, you are going to have trolls and all this other stuff and I was like oh, I get it but, you know, you can’t get around it. If you want to do your business today in 2020, this is the livelihood that we are in, we are in the world of people complaining and being way meaner online than they would ever be in person.

Lechelle: Yeah.

Brian: And say things they would never say in person but you know, that is reality and so the thing that I give advice on is, you know, when you get a bad review, that is unfair, just completely unfair. The best thing you can do is stuff it with good reviews.

Lechelle: Yes.

Brian: Push the bad review down with good reviews because there is plenty of people. It is the good people that don’t ever leave good reviews.

Lechelle: Yeah.

Brian: It is always the bad people. I think you are right, people see through, especially if you are responding in a measured way, as you suggested, and the person that is leading the review is not measured I think it speaks volumes to those kinds of responses.

Lechelle: Yeah, and that is why we are really, glad with our complaints when consumers file a complaint. For the most part, you can always read the business’s response. It is just like with reviews and you would be really, surprised like when I am talking to consumers and I am like, well, they had these complaints filed but here are the circumstances. They are like, oh, that you know, totally I am not worried about any of that. So being able to read the circumstances and read how the business responds really does help.

Olivia: That is awesome. Well, after hearing you talk about BBB accreditation, it kind of makes me think of a little verification on social media like Twitter, Instagram, not to make parallels, but what can you tell our business owners who are listening and want to be accredited by the BBB but might not have their accreditation yet? How can they apply?

Lechelle: Well, definitely, we have a link at the very top of our website and it says join/apply. And so you can go up there and you can fill out your information and we’ll contact you or the information for our business development folks is on our website so people can call them directly or, you know, shoot us an e-mail. All of our contact information is online, too and so let us know that you are interested. Then we start the application process and we go through. We do our checks. Yep. There it is. And just, you know, fill out some information and this webpage is really great because it does have, you know, information from other businesses that are accredited and how it has helped them. The best thing you alluded to it, it is like you know verified by Instagram or Twitter and that is what the accredited business seal is. It is a trust mark. It shows consumers that that you have been vetted and verified by somebody else, we keep an eye on them every year they come up for reaccreditation. You know, again, we are checking to make sure they have a license. Have they gotten in trouble in the past year? More businesses tell us that. You know, they know that consumers are asking. They know that consumers are checking their profile. We have information from surveys. Yeah, there you go. That is the accredited business seal.

Consumers say that, you know, seventy percent of consumers, seven out of ten say that they want to work with accredited businesses. If they have the choice between an accredited business with an A-plus and a non-accredited business with an A-plus, they are going to that accredited business. So and plus then you get visibility because you are on our website and people are coming there. You know, we have had more than a million people visit just our local portion of the website to search for businesses or you know, where they may search for a particular business to see what their score is and if they are accredited or they may be just looking for painters in general. Then they can get a whole list of accredited businesses. So it is super easy to apply you just fill out the process or the application. There is a little questionnaire I guess it really is. Then somebody from the business development team will contact them, get all of their information, and make sure it is up to date and then send it on.

Brian: Well, before we get into, you know, the reality is we are in the Coronavirus season, but pre Corona. What were some of the biggest challenges that you saw business owners experienced during just being a business owner?

Lechelle: We get a lot of requests for help with marketing, as you guys know. Every small business or big business even needs marketing but they are not sure how to go about it. There is so much information out there about what to do, what not to do which social media platform you should be on, how you post or should you run ads? If so, where. What is a good price? Well, we had business at a lot of business owners asking about that kind of information. We did a survey, I am trying to think what the top three things were that they wanted to know what other information they wanted like webinars, and stuff on marketing was one of them. They actually they do want webinars on ethics as well. Of course, ethics is something that is part of you. You have to be an ethical business to be an accredited business with BBB and so you are really, glad to hear that businesses are wanting to know more about ethics. How do we show our ethics to consumer? You know that is a really, tricky thing because not a lot of us sit around and go, what are my ethics? Especially a small business.

You know, they may not have an employee handbook because they only have one or two employees and they can, you know, express to that employee verbally. Here are my ethics. Here is what we do. We are having some ethics training and, you know, just information on how to express their ethics to consumers that is something that people are asking us about and then how do we find good workers? That is you know an ongoing challenge but they are asking questions like that, you know, how do we find and keep good employees? Then they also want to know, how do we respond to customer reviews? How do we get more customer reviews? That is one of the good things about BBB is we have the reviews and we have links that accredited businesses can use to send to their consumers. We give them tips on all the different ways to ask for a review, when to ask for their review, and how to get the link to their consumers.

Brian: So that is interesting. So one other question, as a follow up is this, you know, with all the different social media platforms, obviously Google reviews and Yelp are probably the two biggest review platforms. Sadly, I do not think that most people think about the BBB when they go think of a review. Because with Google reviews is so important with us here in marketing and you know that is the world that we live in and so how do you help encourage like the balance between all of those? Because, you know, obviously, Google dominates Google in the search, Yelp really dominates the restaurant world, and obviously, they touch every industry. So just curious, your thoughts on how you balance all that?

Lechelle: Well, one, I would say in terms of reviews, people may go to Google first, maybe to check a review but we have surveys that show that seventy percent of consumers do come to BBB first when they want to check out the reputation of a business. They are thinking complaints, you know, are they accredited and then kind of oh, yeah there are reviews. So we’re proud to say, you know, that seventy percent of consumers turn to us first when they want to check out the reputation of a business. In some senses, I wonder if this is like the shotgun approach that you want to use as if you send a couple of links to consumers to say, you know, review me here and give them the actual links. You know, you might mention, hey, and you can cut, you know, copy the review you put on Google and then go over to BBB and paste it there as well. I mean, it is tough to try to figure out what you want to do but I think one of the things you guys can talk about there is helping a business figure out where their consumer is.

If it is a restaurant. Yep. Definitely want to have good reviews on Yelp for sure but that is a challenge. It is even a challenge for us when we are trying to reach businesses and consumers. What do we pick? Where do we put our efforts? I think you would have to try a couple different things and see, you know which one is working but we definitely know that, you know that consumers are coming to BBB to check out a business. Of course, I am going to say make sure that you are, you know, getting the BBB reviews out there, too but you are right. I mean, Google is a powerhouse and SEO and all of that stuff. So in that course, you know, it shows up with their stars when you do a search.

Olivia: Wow. I mean, reviews, you do not think about the impact reviews really have until you are sitting there staring at all those positive reviews and then you see that one negative review so it really kind of puts it all into perspective I guess. A question a little bit more off topic and a little bit more about you is what’s the best thing about working for the BBB and why do you love your job?

Lechelle: I had one. I mean, especially right now this is pretty, top of mind for me, but it was really, important for me to help our businesses get the information that they need. I am really, glad that I am in the position where I can go out and, you know, clear it through all of that information and, you know, get it down into a manageable list and send people to the right places to get that information. Because I mean, local businesses, small businesses, they are the fabric of our community and we want to make sure that they are around once the Coronavirus gone. So, you know, as much information, as much help as I can get the business that has been really important to me in the last month more so than, you know, trying to bust the bad guys [Inaudible 00:40:52 – 00:40:53] businesses and consumers about all of the scams that are out there with. You know, if I had to I think they are probably equal. I mean, I like being able to come to work and to be able to do both of those things and then to talk about our great accredit businesses and, you know, give them kudos when they do something really good and handle a complaint really, well or, you know, something along those lines.

Brian: That is great. I definitely want to have you tell us about some of the resource that you mentioned but last question before we jump into the resources. With the Covid-19 and you know, there’s lots of challenges, but what would be a piece of advice that you could give tangible piece of advice that someone is listening to our podcast or watching right now that they could take action now and really just be encouraged to get through this season?

Lechelle: Two things I would say is, one, if you are thinking that you are going to need some emergency funds, go ahead and apply. Now go back to your bank and say, I know there is money coming what can I do to make sure I am in the queue and apply as many different places as you can but go ahead and get that in the works so that when the money is back, you have a good chance at it. And then I would also just say, you know, communicate with your customers, whether it’s on Facebook, if you have the ability to add something to your website, let them know how you’re operating. If you are a closed business, let them know what your process is going to be once you reopen. My husband needs a massage. We are trying to think, gosh, can we book that now. What do we need to do? Is it going to be really, full? A business that can say, you know, we are going to be backlog but here is our plan for dealing with that backlog when we open back up. Again, communicating with customers and potential customers the more you can do that, I think you will be better off on the other side of Covid-9.

Brian: Well, that is great. So speaking of some of the resources, you know, I can share my screen and I know you gave us some links for things to look at. So let us talk a little bit about some of the resources that you guys are offering. I know we talked a little bit about webinars earlier, but what are some of the things that people can go to your website and just get some free assistance right now?
Lechelle: Sure. We do have this page for the recorded webinar or webinars, and we have some of the recorded ones too. There is a YouTube channel that has a lot of other ones on there. Then we have the webinars that are coming up so that is bbbtrust.info. If you go to bbbtrust.org on that page, we have resources broken out by county. Oh, do not tell me it is not working.

Brian: bbbtrust.org I think I went there earlier. Yeah it redirected.

Lechelle: There we go. Oh, thanks. Trying to keep these websites up to date and make sure they are all working you guys know that’s a challenge. If you scroll down, you can see we have got the county resources broken out for the 19 counties and its links to the small business centre to any other information that they may have in their county. I would like Forsyth Counties for their Covid-19 response fund so just trying to link our businesses to as many different places where they can get help as possible and so that’s by each county. Then we have a tab for state resources where you can get information that you might need for the state. Then again, there is the link for the webinars. Then let us see if we scroll down and then financial resources. Now, I have been having a problem with this link, so let us see what happens. The Small Business Network has a list of great other financial resources aside from the ones that I send out to our businesses today so that is on their. Business resources, it is just more information. You know in the beginning we had things like templates for emails and how to respond to business or consumers if you are going to be close. Then what scams to look out for as a as a business because right now the scammers are out there and, you know, they’re trying to take advantage of not just consumers, but businesses. You have Tips and alerts and apply for accreditation. You can certainly go to that page if you want to apply so just trying to be a one-stop source for businesses and that is at bbbtrust.org.

Brian: Well, that is great. I really appreciate you sharing all those resources. You know just for our listeners, I think just be able to find something that’s accurate because, you know, the problem with Google right now is, is things are changing so quickly that, you know, you can’t distil you just trust an immediate piece of information that you’ve gotten. It is good to know that people like you are scouring through that resource to make sure that this is actually legitimate and something that people can, you know, pull from.

Lechelle: Well, I am trying to find ones, too, that are easy explanations. Some of the articles and stuff you read I cannot understand what they are saying at all. There is plenty of resources here “The Winston-Salem Chamber” has been great. They do a daily update and explain things really well and break it down, really so easily. I linked to a lot of their stuff so it is great to have partners like Chambers and the small business centres to help us.

Olivia: Well, that is awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us today Lechelle. We really appreciate you having joining us on the podcast and all of the awesome nuggets of wisdom you have had to give us.

Lechelle: Well, thank you. It is a pleasure to be here.

Brian: Well, on next week’s episode, we are going to have someone from Home Advisor. She is going to be speaking all about their tool and home advisory is a great place to understand, you know resources and who to trust when you are getting work done at your home. We are excited to have Lexi from home advisor on our show next week.

Olivia: If you guys like what we have to share every week, please give us some thumbs like subscribe, leave us a review and all that jazz it means the world to us and until next time, we’ll see you next week, guys.

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