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Weathering the coronavirus storm, small businesses struggle to survive

Ft. Collins company helps with digital marketing
Posted at 5:30 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 21:51:00-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- For small businesses, it will be a small miracle if they’re able to weather the novel coronavirus storm, as the virus is causing cancellations everywhere.

But Brian Lehnerz, the co-owner of Liftech, is grateful for one thing.

"We are considered an essential business because we do foundation and concrete repair work," Lehnerz said.

His company is allowed to stay open during Colorado’s statewide stay-at-home order because they do repairs for homeowners on cracking foundations and crumbling sidewalks – a safety and habitability issue.

"If they're cracked or broken, allowing water into them – crawl spaces, basements – things like that," Lehnerz said. “That’s what we fix.”

But, with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Lehnerz is worried about losing customers who might think he's closed.

"This day and age, what's really important to us is getting the word out that we are an essential business. We're still working," he said.

So, he's turning to YouTube, Google and Facebook to get the word out that he's still open.

He's using Madwire, a Fort Collins-based company, to help with digital marketing.

"With the pandemic, what we're seeing is sort of an evolution at a faster pace to digital," said Madwire CEO and co-founder JB Kellogg.

Kellogg says companies that make the digital transition quickly will have a greater chance of survival.

"[We are] offering remote services, or other ways to access their customers through social media or e-mail or other digital channels," Kellogg said.

Take workout gyms, for example. Zoom, Vimeo and other video-conferencing technologies are allowing them to stay relevant.

"They can get through this if they offer remote classes and training programs from home,” Kellogg said. “So, people still want to work out and (the gyms) want them to continue paying their membership, obviously. For most small businesses, it's literally the only way they can operate now."

For Lehnerz, so far so good. He still has all 22 of his employees.

"As of today, we haven't had to let anyone go,” Lehnerz said. “Which is a huge victory for a company like a small business."