Episode 10: My Employees Are Freaking Out

William, Dana, and Laura and their businesses are having very different coronavirus experiences. While Dana and William are expecting little in the way of revenue, Laura’s online yarn business is thriving. But they’re all facing challenges in managing their employees: “It's been amazing to see just how hard folks are working. Are they concerned about a layoff? I'm sure they are. I would be too.” Plus: finding ways to stay connected to customers even while the business is closed.

21 Hats Podcast Episode 10: My Employees Are Freaking Out

Guests:

William Vanderbloemen is founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

Dana White is founder and CEO of Paralee Boyd hair salons.

Laura Zander is co-founder and CEO of Jimmy Beans Wool.

Producer:

Jess Thoubboron is founder of Blank Word Productions.

Episode Highlights:

William Vanderbloemen: “I mean, obviously, if [churches] aren’t meeting, they’re not hiring. If they’re not hiring, they’re not hiring me.”

Dana White: “They’re not understanding why they’re not getting paid throughout the pandemic. Some of the comments have judged me as a business owner. ‘If you were a real business owner, you’d be able to support us through this time.’”

Laura Zander: “Our Reno business and the online business, I mean, I hate to say it, but our numbers are really high. They’re really good right now.”

Full Episode Transcript:

Loren Feldman:
Welcome, everyone to another coronavirus, special edition of the 21 Hats Podcast. If you hear a little buzzing in the background, I’m not in my usual podcast studio and that background buzz is being donated generously by the leaf blowers in my neighbor’s yard.

Laura Zander:
They’re at least six feet or six feet away from you though, right?

Loren Feldman:
From me, but not from each other which is a little concerning…

Laura Zander:
With a blower.

Loren Feldman:
Yes, exactly.

William Vanderbloemen:
Loren, I feel your pain. We’ve gone remote at our work and I have lost track of how many people’s children I’ve seen run across the background in diapers and the dogs bark or all the things.

Loren Feldman:
I’m so glad this is audio.

Loren Feldman:
Let’s get a quick update from each of you. I want to hear how you’re doing, where you stand with your businesses. Dana, we last spoke with you two weeks ago when you were still focused on what you needed to do to keep your hair salons open in Detroit. I gather that’s no longer possible.

Dana White:
So the governor did issue an executive order for pretty much all non-essential businesses to close. So we are closed. I closed about two or three days before she required us to close.

Loren Feldman:
Why did you do that? What prompted it?

Dana White:
I was concerned that there might be somebody who comes into the salon and might infect my staff. No matter how clean we were in the salon, we couldn’t control that. The other thing was the volume. On our busy days, wee were seeing about half the volume that we normally would on a busy day. So when I looked at the numbers, and I thought about my staff, I went ahead and decided to lay off everybody. My network told me that this is coming, and I wanted my staff to be able to file for unemployment before the mad rush.

Loren Feldman:
Laura, when we spoke last week, you had just gone through a tough layoff at the company you bought in Texas but your online yarn sales were holding up pretty well.

Laura Zander:
Kind of same thing. We did a layoff. We’re in much better shape. I think that we’re going to be able to afford—especially with the paid leave acts—we’ll be able to afford to keep everybody and pay them full-time, even if they aren’t able to work full-time down in Texas. Our Reno business and the online business, I mean, I hate to say it, but our numbers are really high. They’re really good right now. Both of our states, both Nevada and Texas, are in counties that are in lockdowns as well. But both of our businesses are excluded from those lockdowns…

Loren Feldman:
Because you’re distribution businesses?

Laura Zander:
Yes, in Nevada, manufacturing, distribution, and storage is excluded. Those are essential businesses. And then in Texas, if you are supplying online sales, then it’s excluded. So as long as you’re closed to the public and you’re employing the health health regulations…

We’re still operating. I mean, we have a half staff in Texas so that we can keep people as far away from each other as possible. They’re way more than six feet apart from each other. But yeah, we’re actually doing okay. If you go look at Google Trends, you’ll see that up there with toilet paper is how to knit. We’re getting more and more new customers. In fact, we’re launching on April 1st—typically they call it a knit-along when a whole bunch of people get together and they knit on the same project at the same time—we’ve been planning for about two years to do a shit-along where we have custom toilet paper made—

Loren Feldman:
You love telling us about that, Laura. You bring this up every opportunity you get.

Laura Zander:
You know what, I had this idea forever ago. I’m not jumping on the toilet paper bandwagon. But anyway, so we’re launching our shit-along next week. There’s a yarn called Comfort that we’re going to be using, so we’re really excited.

Loren Feldman:
That’s great. William, this is your first time with us in a while. How have things been going for you and your business? Is it operating?

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, that’s always the question, isn’t it?

Loren Feldman:
No, it’s not. You have a great business.

William Vanderbloemen:
You know, it’s interesting. It has been a while. We were very harried in January, in February, absolutely the best start to the year we’ve ever had, which was a real blessing.

Loren Feldman:
And why was that? What was going on?

William Vanderbloemen:
I think some of the things we’ve talked about in previous episodes where we set up to scale, we have a new CEO in place, our systems are taught rather than caught. That flywheel finally hit a point where it was turning, if that makes sense.

Laura Zander:
It’s not that January 1st, everybody decides for their New Year’s resolution to go to church?

William Vanderbloemen:
That happens every year. Everyone’s gonna lose 10 pounds and balance their checkbook and hire that new staff person. That’s a very normal surge for us. I’m talking January, February over previous January and Februarys—much, much higher. We were bemoaning the fact that we might not have a March that was 20 or 25 percent better than last March. And boy, I’d like to eat my words.

Loren Feldman:
So what happened?

William Vanderbloemen:
We’re in very uncharted territory, Loren, for a couple reasons. And I want to learn from you all on this one. One, we’ve never been through a downturn in charitable giving. So we started in the Great Recession.I’m the idiot who quit a stable job and started a new small business that was a new idea for churches in the middle of the worst recession we had ever seen. We came through that, and in a lot of ways, it was helpful, because we started small when there was little business and we could learn our trade. But I don’t know the corollary if giving drops by 10 percent, then our business drops by 10 percent. I don’t know that corollary at all.

Then compounding that ignorance, the way I think you tell the future is by looking at the past. It’s pretty repetitive. You look to the past and say, “When has this happened before?” Everybody says, “We’re in uncharted ground.” There has never in human history been a time when people of faith—all faiths, everywhere—have been restricted from gathering for a number of weeks. That’s never ever ever happened. There’s no real way to know. I mean, obviously, if they’re not meeting, they’re not hiring. If they’re not hiring, they’re not hiring me.

So we know that, and we can withstand a blizzard easy. We’re built to withstand a winter. I don’t quite know what happens if it’s really an Ice Age. If you follow the former preacher with metaphors—those are kind of the three phases we’re looking at. And I think it looks more like winter to us.

Loren Feldman:
So now you have no revenue coming in at all, essentially?

William Vanderbloemen:
That’s right. Well, we’ve got revenue coming in, because we built things, but we have no sales coming in. In May and in June, we’ll feel that. But what that means is—we’ve decided because we have been careful with our cash—we’ve said, “Okay, serve your clients as best you can.” But even the searches we’re doing right now, most people are like, “Let’s wait till we can interview the guy face to face.” So everything has sort of hit pause and now we’ve taken time to say, “All right, here’s where we’re going to plant seed, and the fruit will come later.” And so we’ve spent…

Laura Zander:
I was just going to say, how interesting that they want to interview face to face when—and I know that’s an isolated case—but there’s the potential that the new church is more online and more digital than ever.

William Vanderbloemen:
That’s the trendy thing to say, but I think you’re dead wrong.

Laura Zander:
Interesting.

William Vanderbloemen:
Not to get all scriptural on you, but whether you’re Jewish or Christian, the creation narrative in Genesis starts with, “God creates the heavens and the Earth. He creates light, and he says, ‘That’s really good.’ It’s a benediction. ‘This is good.’ And then he creates the Earth and he says, ‘It’s good.’ And he goes through several things. He gets to creating us, humans, and looks at us and says, ‘That’s very good.’”

So there are all these benedictions: good, good, good, good, good. The first malediction, the first curse in the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the first thing God says, “This is not good.” He says, “It is not good for you all to be alone.

There’s a thing in the people who we work with [where] you can’t replicate physical human connection. And I don’t know if you guys have noticed it, but there are more people walking up and down our sidewalks at the beginning and end of the day right now. People are just dying to see each other, even from six feet away, whether it’s writing the messages on the sidewalk in chalk for people or…

Virtual has been awesome, and in a lot of ways, I’m so thankful that this didn’t hit until the church was ready to go online and giving could happen digitally and all those things, but it’s really a Bandaid. It’s just a bridge. I predict that when this is over, there will be a storm surge of attendance at religious gatherings.

Laura Zander:
See, that is so interesting. I don’t mean to sound sacrilegious, but our industry, the knitting industry, is a religion in its own right, if you will. We all worship together, we kind of get together. It’s meditative, blah, blah, blah. But what we’re seeing, because our industry is very community and in-person focused as well—it’s just knitting clubs, knitting groups, knitting guilds, all these events, all that kind of stuff—we’re seeing this new model of the hybrid really taking hold, where we’re using digital, Instagram Live and all of these digital technologies. We don’t think they’re going to go away.

We think that it’s going to end up—because so many of the small businesses and the small gathering places we think are going to go away—that it’s going to have to end up being a mix of you have to have a good digital presence and a good digital personality. Plus, you have to be somebody who is warm and welcoming in person. So, in our industry, I do see the resurgence of people flocking to the shops, you know, to our churches, if you will. But we think that there are some really innovative, interesting things that are going to be happening digital-wise, because, as we all know, this isn’t going to go away. I mean, the virus stuff is here to stay.

William Vanderbloemen:
So, first of all, I totally agree with you. There will be some things in our clients’ work that will go digital. I think a lot of committee meetings, I think of a lot of small group stuff, I think of the cost-effectiveness of doing a children’s ministry online rather than having 1,000 volunteers, and letting people do it in their homes, which connects families. So there are a lot of cool events that’ll come, but the baseline of gathering together, like the oldest word for church is the “gathering.” That’s just not going to stop.

So for us, it bifurcates. There are the really big churches, and it’s thousands of people gathering. Well, they’re gonna have a whole different mindset than the normal church. The normal church in America is 100 people who get together, and they just don’t have the data. This is not a massive business. This is eight or nine families that all have cousins related to one another, and it’d be like telling them to do family dinner online, which we tried doing last week. Better than nothing, but it’s still just a bridge.

Loren Feldman:
So Wiliam, where do you stand? Is your business still operating? Did you have to lay people off? What’s going on?

William Vanderbloemen:
Not clear yet. The CARES act, I guess is the right word for it, that they’re still debating in the house, that the Senate passed, has a big effect on us. I know, reading the update this morning, there’s a lot of consensus that maybe it’s not enough, but it’s certainly a help. We built cash reserves for crises. Frankly, I don’t know. I’ve sat and beat myself up, Loren, over and over and over. “William, why didn’t you build five years of cash reserves or ten years or some ridiculous pile of money?” And it’s because…

Laura Zander:
Because you’re not Richard Branson. [Laughter]

Dana White:
I totally beat myself up over this.

William Vanderbloemen:
But I sit and beat myself up and say, why didn’t I see this coming? Well, we have all of these, “If William’s plane went down, this is how it works, and it’s going to work fine. If we lost three consultants, this is how it would work. If there were a PR nightmare, this is how it would work.” We never foresaw, “What if churches couldn’t meet for six, eight weeks?” So we’re flying blind, Loren. I don’t know.

I do know that on the other side of this, there’s gonna be a massive need for a different kind of leader. At the large church, it’s going to have to be somebody who can preach from their iPhone with their kids hanging off their neck like Jimmy Fallon is doing right now and command a room. That’s going to be different. And there are going to have to be online kids’ pastors, and nobody knows how to hire for that.

And in our school practice, schools move slightly faster than glaciers. Barely, right? So they have been the last to the party on online education unless you go to University of Phoenix or one of the newer kids, and all these old established schools that hire us are having to find a new kind of headmaster who can think through a digital lens. So I think our business is very bullish once we get through this chasm. I just don’t know how long the chasm is. So we’re trying to figure that out, and does that mean layoffs or furloughs or all kinds of creative things? Fortunately, the help that the government is providing is offering some help. Like everybody, I wish it were more, but it is some help.

Loren Feldman:
Dana, I think I heard you start to say you’ve been beating yourself up over not planning for something like this. What were you thinking?

Dana White:
Why didn’t I have three months of cash reserve ready to go? Why didn’t I work harder? Why didn’t I make more money? Why was I tired? If I woulda, coulda, shoulda. For like three or four days after the executive order was passed, it was: to open or not to open? To stay open or not stay open? And after speaking with my mentor—the business community here in Metro Detroit has been amazing—speaking with other Goldman Sachs alum, they said, “You’re asking the wrong question. The question isn’t to open or not be open. You’re gonna stay open. The question is, who is Paralee Boyd once you reopen. And how do you keep and engage your customers while they’re away?” So that’s what I’ve been working on.

It’s, you know, doing the work. We, similarly to William, we don’t have any revenue. We can’t operate and not be within six feet of our customers. So if we can’t be within six feet of our customers, we have to close. It’s a matter of, how long does this go and how do you keep your customers engaged? A lot of people said, “Well, Dana, why don’t you do gift cards online?” My guests don’t want to pay two, three weeks in advance for their service. They want to get their service, pay and go. What I’m working on now is, who is Paralee Boyd when we reopen? I’m focused more on looking forward. Because I know we’re going to be jammed. We’ve had customers email us and say, “I hope you guys are going to be ready.”

Loren Feldman:
Have you thought about things you might be able to do to help during this period? Everybody I know is a little bit concerned about how quickly their hair is growing and what they’re going to do about that before their next Zoom call.

William Vanderbloemen:
My favorite tweet so far is, “I guess we’re two weeks from finding out what everybody’s hair color really is.”

Dana White:
My guests’ hair color is not the biggest thing. For us, it’s a matter of just doing it, because my guests come to me to do their hair. Whereas other people do their hair everyday at home, sometimes my guests come to me to get their hair done. What I’m thinking about doing, and maybe the time will allow for this, is doing hair care kits at home, which they can pick up or we can ship. But again, that takes time. I’ve got the trial kits coming to me right now from Texas and seeing what that looks like. Does it work? Because I’ve got to try it on myself first. And then if it works out, great. Then we can start doing that, depending on how long this goes. If it goes until April 13th, we don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time to do that. But if it goes as long as as people say it’s going to go, I will have time for that.

Again, the focus for me is looking forward, saying who is Paralee Boyd? Are we a company that ships and does videos on hair care at home? Are we a company that modifies their processes and adds new treatments and services for when we reopen? Time will tell.

Loren Feldman:
Can you do both?

Dana White:
So we can, but again, I’m the type of business [where] I don’t want you to do your hair at home, because we can do it better in the salon. I might change the narrative from doing your hair at home to, “Hey, you’re traveling, this is what you can do when you’re away. But when you come back, come to us.” I don’t want to do, “Hey everybody, don’t come to us anymore. Here’s what you could do at home.” I’d rather say, “Hey, if you’re going on a trip and can’t get to us, here’s what you can do.” So that might be the avenue once we reopen.

William Vanderbloemen:
Dana, that’s exactly what we’re faced with. So, like for us—I don’t want to over spiritualize things, but—the worship service is the echo of heaven for people who believe, whether that’s a Muslim, Christian, Jewish person. And it’s discombobulated, and it’s human, so it’s not perfect, but it’s the echo. Well now with online, we’re having to do the echo of the echo. That’s kind of how we’re finding it. This is the best thing possible for now, but it in no way replaces the fundamental need for the service itself.

Dana White:
Exactly. Yep, that’s my thing. And I’ve had guests say to me, “I would do my hair at home, but you guys do it better.” And that’s it.

William Vanderbloemen:
That’s it.

Dana White:
I mean, you can do it, but having a stylist stand behind you and do your hair is very different than you raising your arms up and having to do your hair, in the back.

Loren Feldman:
And that will always be the case, but maybe there’s an opportunity to just help people get through this period. You know, here are some tricks, just for now.

Dana White:
Agreed. But time may not allow for it, right? So if I had known in January that on March 15th, the governor was going to shut it down, I would have had kits and bags and brushes and everything, videos posted, and everything ready. But if it goes to where the executive order said till April 13th, I don’t have time.

Loren Feldman:
I wouldn’t bet the house on April 13th being the time.

Dana White:
Exactly. So what I’m doing is saying, “Okay, it’s gonna be longer. How can we get these hair care kits out?” And then say, “Okay, if it is going to be longer, how do we take the hair care kits and say, ‘Hair on the go when you can’t get to us?’”

Laura Zander:
Dana, is anybody doing how to make your own hair care kit at home? You know everybody right now is making their own antibacterial soap or their own sprays. Has anybody done a whole how-to using the stuff that you have in your house?

Dana White:
No, no, no, no. You’re talking about black women and their hair. They’re going to go to the store and get shampoo before they try to make something in the home. Hand sanitizer’s different. Two ingredients: aloe vera and alcohol and it evaporates and you’re done. When you’re talking about putting something in your hair, they want to go to a trusted brand that they know.

Laura Zander:
Even during a pandemic?

Dana White:
Absolutely. Some women are going to wear protective styles until it’s time to come out and then come to Paralee Boyd and get their hair done. Again, it’s an understanding that the hair culture for my market is very different. We can’t wash our hair every day. It would break off, be dry and brittle. It would be a mess. The natural oils in our hair help preserve our hair, but you’re not supposed to keep the natural oils in your hair for weeks and weeks and weeks at a time.

If I could get a hair kit together in the next two weeks, I’m okay. It’s not as soon as it would to have been helpful. But even for me, I’m going to the store and buying shampoo. I would never mix anything in my house—and I’m pretty stocked—to put on my hair and risk damaging it for when this is over.

Loren Feldman:
I’d like to talk a little bit about your employees, and how you’re dealing with this, how stressed out they are. Laura, I gather some of your employees may actually have been sick with the coronavirus. What’s it been like with your employees?

Laura Zander:
You know, it’s funny that you asked that because I wanted to ask the same question. That’s one of the things that I’m really struggling with, is that I am not panicking about this, and it’s actually causing me a lot of anxiety that I don’t have anxiety, and I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Some of my employees who are healthy, who are coming in and working, are just freaking out, and I don’t understand what people are freaking out about. Especially for us. They still have their jobs. We are doing really well right now. Nobody’s sick.

Back in January, we went to a big trade show with probably about 15,000 people in one hotel in New York. I’m venturing that about a third of the people got really ill for a week or two with some sort of flu. We didn’t know what it was at the time. And then we brought it back to the office and then everybody at the office was sick. We kind of collectively think that this has already run through our office a few months ago. We don’t really have anybody who’s ill right now.

I was going to ask Dana and William what their experiences are. One of the things I’m trying to work on is developing some empathy because I kind of thrive in chaos and in crisis. It’s what I grew up in, and it’s my comfort zone. I’m having a little trouble not getting frustrated with people for freaking out.

Dana White:
I have a question, Laura. Would you be less comfortable if your sales were 90% down?

Laura Zander:
I definitely would. In Texas, that business is losing money every single day. Absolutely.

Dana White:
But overall, if it’s not just Texas, if just looking at the numbers, you saw, “Whoa, 90 percent.” I think that’s my point. I think you have a comfort of funding. You’re making money. There’s some revenue coming in. And I think that’s part of the reason why you’re not panicking. I think you’re spot on, you’re not panicking because you know yourself, and I think you thrive not in chaos, but I think you thrive in productive chaos.

Laura Zander:
Totally. Yes. But that’s my question: we are doing okay. Nobody’s going to lose their job. In fact, we’re actually understaffed right now. I’m having trouble identifying with the panic that some of my employees are having when things are comfortable for them.

Loren Feldman:
William, what’s your situation? How stressed are your employees?

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, it’s hard to tell virtually, isn’t it? That’s the trick, right? Right now, most of our team members either are very active in their church, or have been on a church staff. They’ve all gone into crisis mode and have probably given me the most productive week we’ve had in years. It’s been amazing to see just how hard folks are working. Are they concerned about a layoff? I’m sure they are. I would be too.

I think what I’m having to do as a leader is, on the one hand—and I think we’re going to see this in our clients’ needs. They’re going to need a senior leader who is better at the soft skills than ever because the need for empathy, the need for a pastoral sense is going to be needed from every CEO in the world—not just people who are pastors for a living. On the one hand, I need to be pastoral and compassionate. On the other hand, I’m eternally optimistic. Every glass is half full. I have to be careful not to be Pollyannaish with them so that if something sudden were to happen, or if we were to cross a line where we’ve got to make some really sudden changes, they’re not caught off guard saying, “Wait, we never saw this coming.”

Laura Zander:
Same page. I’m on exactly the same page, William.

Dana White:
I’m not. My staff is freaking out, and several of them have threatened to quit.

Loren Feldman:
They’re furloughed, but they’re threatening to quit, you’re saying, for good?

Dana White:
Yes.

Loren Feldman:
And why?

Dana White:
Because they’re not understanding why they’re not getting paid throughout the pandemic. They don’t understand. My managers do, and that’s really hard. Some of the comments have judged me as a business owner. “If you were a real business owner, you’d be able to support us through this time. If you knew how to manage money better, you’d be able to support us through this time.”

Loren Feldman:
There are good answers to those questions, Dana. Are you struggling with that? Or do you feel comfortable with the answers you’ve given?

Dana White:
I feel comfortable with the answers I’ve given because they’re honest answers. There’s nothing I’m hiding, and there’s nothing… that’s our culture, right? There’s nothing that I’m hiding, and there’s nothing that I’m not willing to share. I’m not taking it personally. I understand that they’re uncomfortable—extremely uncomfortable. I have my managers who support me because I’ve explained to them and shared with them step by step what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. But my concern is that, when we open, we will be short-staffed. My guests have said, “I hope you’re ready when it’s time to open because you’re going to be swamped.” My managers have told me they don’t really…

Loren Feldman:
…understand how the business works.

Dana White:
Well, it’s that. And they don’t want to leave Paralee Boyd. Like they literally were saying to me the day before I made the decision, “We support you. We love working here.” We did a check-in three days before, and everybody chimed in, “Love working here, love working with Dana. Love it, love it, love it, love it, love it.” And then this hit, and now, “I want to quit, I want to quit, I want to quit.” It’s panic.

Loren Feldman:
Dana, are you up on the stimulus package that William was referring to? It hasn’t completely passed yet. It hasn’t been signed. But there may be help in that package for your business and for your employees. Do you know what you need to know?

Dana White:
Yes, but the concern with that is the timeline. My staff wants money today, and they want guarantees today. So a loan, disaster relief, takes longer than today. My managers are doing a great job managing their demand. I’m doing all I can to get paperwork and everything I need to submit. So I don’t want to respond to a knee-jerk reaction and get a loan, and all of a sudden, “Oh no!” Because I was panicking too, I signed up for something that probably didn’t work out for me in the back-end. So it’s about having these conversations with your accountants to make sure you know to extrapolate what this looks like over the next year.

Loren Feldman:
Wiliam, do you have any thoughts on that? I know you did a Facebook Live. You’ve studied the package, and you’re trying to help other businesses and other organizations understand what’s in it. Do you have any advice for someone who’s asking the question: What do I do until I can apply for those loans and actually get them, which could take who knows how long?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, well, all the guidance that we’ve gotten—and I’m not the expert on this. Our COO combed through all 880 pages, and he’s a Harvard MBA, and all the things that I’m not, so he’s the one that should answer the questions. But everything we’re seeing is that despite the bureaucracy that is undoubtedly coming, the message from the SBA to local lenders is very clear: Get money in people’s hands quickly. In fact, I went ahead and reached out to our banker before the thing passed, and they already had things to us. I think it’s gonna be quicker than the ordinary bureaucratic sit-on-hold forever kind of thing. The reason we took great interest in it [is] it started with a personal interest of, if I’m going to have to pay the backend tax of this $2 trillion thing later, I might as well enjoy the front-end now. So how can this help our business? But on about Saturday or Sunday of last week, nonprofits and 501(c)(3)s and churches were all added into the bill—they were previously not included.

Well, this is a lifeline to the normal-sized church of 100 where payroll’s 65 percent of their overhead. We did a Facebook Live. And if you go to Facebook and just type in Vanderbloemen—and you can spell it however you want—then you’ll find a link there. We set up a separate website to pool resources on Covid, and it’s everything from how to do remote meetings to this SBA bill. It’s churchcovid19.com, and there you’ll find an hour-long, detailed presentation on, how do you calculate what you’re actually going to get from the government? How do you go about applying for it? It’s very granular. If you’re the semi-ADD CEO, find someone else on your staff to watch it. But Loren, this week, we’ve had five times the traffic on our website of any other week ever. And it all goes back to that Facebook Live event, because you can search all over for, “What does this bill mean?” And you’ll find a 600-word blog post here or there with a sentence or two for small businesses, but nobody’s really dug into it yet. I’m sure there’ll be others, but as we did our Facebook Live, nobody else had done it, and it really caught on. That’s where I’d point people.

Laura Zander:
I’m going to go watch that today.

Loren Feldman:
You can also find the link in today’s 21 Hats Morning report. If you haven’t subscribed to that you can do so at batvmorningreport.com.

William Vanderbloemen:
And Loren, sorry, you told us to talk over each other, so I will.

Loren Feldman:
Go!

Laura Zander:
I’ve been trying!

William Vanderbloemen:
I was talking to my COO today, and he said he’s shocked how many accountants, lawyers, and CFOs are calling him asking him for more guidance, because apparently he got it right. And the stuff that’s coming out now from Inc. and from E&Y all is very congruent with what we put out there. So we’re not lawyers, we’re not accountants, but I think it would be helpful.

Laura Zander:
Well, you have a direct line to God. So…

Dana White:
Hey, hey, right. That does it, that does it. Laura, did you have a question for me? We were talking earlier. I thought you might have.

Laura Zander:
You know, I was just gonna ask if you’ve done a GoFundMe or anything? You know, we’ve seen that with some of the smaller shops—the retail stores that have had to close in our industry. They’re just putting up a, “Hey, give me some money.”

Dana White:
Yeah, I’ve seen them, and their numbers are dismal. I’ve seen a couple of them here. They’re asking for $1,000, they’ve got $25, $100.

Loren Feldman:
But Dana, you feel confident that you’re on top of the stimulus package and know what you need to do there.

Dana White:
Yes, you know, this has not been a downtime.

Loren Feldman:
Are you doing it all yourself? Are you getting help?

Dana White:
I’m doing it all myself. So it’s webinar after Facebook Live after conference call after… And I have to say, the Detroit community has been amazing about getting the information out, getting the answers to your question as quickly as possible. I applied for the Detroit stabilization grant on a Friday. Was awarded $2,500 on Wednesday. So they’re not wasting any time. Landlords are really stepping up. Some of them are, some of them aren’t.

Loren Feldman:
I saw Dan Gilbert and Bedrock are putting off rent payments. Are you in a Bedrock property?

Dana White:
I am not, but my landlord in Midtown is amazing. I’m not too concerned about their compassion or what they’ll be willing to work out with me during this time. The response time here for people has been really good.

I literally just got an email saying, “Hey, the state of Michigan now has a small business grant and loan program organized by county. The application just went live about five minutes ago. So, Dana, apply for that.” There’s just been so much information about how you can get through this.

My biggest things are my loans and my people and my rent. I don’t want to take out another loan in addition to the loan I have. I want to consolidate and move forward, and I don’t know if that’s an option for me now. It’s just about doing the homework and finding out: What is the best situation that works for Paralee Boyd going forward? I’m really worried about making a decision that will hurt me in the long run—even though the loan, I don’t think it will. It’s just one more thing, and I would rather weigh my options carefully and then pull the trigger.

Loren Feldman:
I don’t think anybody would argue with that. And obviously, we will continue to track the decisions that all of you make in the weeks to come. We’re out of time. Needless to say, we will be discussing all of this lots more. Thank you for your time today. My thanks to Dana White, William Vanderbloemen, and Laura Zander. Be careful out there, everybody.

Laura Zander:
Thank you.