Here’s How BBQGuys Is Adapting and Innovating in the Time of Coronavirus
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Hello, and welcome to another series of articles related to the coronavirus pandemic. Fear not, however, as this series shall not be one of doom and gloom. Instead, this series will focus on some of your favorite retail brands and what they are doing to support their staff and customers during this challenging period in our history.
Lockdown is now a familiar term around the world and most nations have put some level of measures in place to control the movement of people and thus slow the spread of the virus. This has resulted in millions of people around the world now working from home. It has also taught retailers new lessons about what is possible and what is necessary for daily operations.
One such retailer is Baton Rouge-based purveyor of all things dedicated to outdoor cooking, BBQGuys. You would think that with the number of social gatherings at an all-time low, a company that specializes in BBQs, smokers, pizza ovens, and more would be struggling more than most. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Adaptation and innovation are key to the survival of businesses in the new normal in which we find ourselves. Brands the world over are discovering ways to keep their doors open — even if figuratively — for the duration. Even retailers which one would first assume would struggle to work remotely are discovering that, with a little ingenuity, business can continue somewhat as usual.
It’s fair to say that, going into this crisis, given the nature of its product catalog, BBQGuys had some serious reservations about its ability to operate as a 100% remote retailer.
“If you’d asked me two weeks ago, I’d have told you we couldn’t support a remote workforce,” said BBQGuys Vice President, Corey Tisdale. “I didn’t think we had the equipment to support employees working from home until four days ago. Yet, by Tuesday, virtually all the company’s 160 or so employees were holed up and working from home, like the rest of the state’s nonessential workforce.”
Like many companies, BBQGuys already had a disaster management plan which was designed to allow the company to continue operating if there was ever a need for premises to be evacuated. All it had to do was adjust this plan to operate over a longer term than the week or two it was originally designed for, and arrange with its local warehouses and suppliers how orders would be fulfilled within the rules and recommendations of the new status quo — something made possible through the hard work and diligence of the BBQGuys IT team.
“We already had plans for what we would do if everyone were evacuated and couldn’t come back for a week,” continued Tisdale. “Well, those plans have been repurposed and adjusted for the longer term. We try to have a snapshot of what time frame every supplier is operating under and what their inventory is. We can fill orders by hand, locally, but we can also route orders to suppliers, who are able to get them out fast.”
However, it’s not all business for the people at BBQGuys. They’re also working hard to create exciting experiences for their not insignificant audience. Naturally, if you are a brand famous for a sublime range of outdoor cooking equipment, then what better way is there to serve your customers at a time such as this than with a virtual BBQ party.
So, on the first weekend of April, BBQGuys invited its social media audience to log onto Instagram and join in the fun by sharing videos, photos, and stories of them enjoying their BBQs and gardens. BBQGuys set up a unique hashtag — #BelieveinBBQ — for people to use when sharing and also spent the weekend posting loads of interesting and entertaining content. They even featured experts and celebrity guests speaking about their connection to BBQ while providing tips, recipes and more.
Guest appearances were made by Christie Vanover from GirlsCanGrill, Krystal Faircloth from APinchOfLovely.com, Spiceology, Hogs for the Cause, and several others, and BBQGuys even set up a special Spotify channel for the event, to get everyone up and grooving to a common beat.
We are likely to be feeling the effects of the coronavirus crisis for some time yet and must all get used to this state being the new normal for now. However, with so many people and brands innovating and adapting, we will continue to thrive during this challenging time.
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