As we all know, the only constant in life is change, and these days change is not just constant but seemingly on overdrive. AWC-SB members and non-members gathered via Zoom Wednesday evening for “Managing Change,” this month’s presentation by three women professionals in our community.
Judith Smith Meyer, Communications Director of Foodbank of Santa Barbara County
FoodbankSBC staff learned a lot during the Thomas fire and subsequent debris flow about adapting to changing conditions. Many community members couldn’t get to shelters or food distribution points due to freeway and road closures.
They found some keys to adaptability are:
Pulling Together—In the aftermath of the Montecito debris flow, FoodbankSBC worked with community partner organizations to get food to people where they were. Wisely, they maintained those relationships, which are being utilized again during the current crisis.
Fresh Horses—Management knew that when staff is dedicated to their mission, they will do what needs to get done in the face of adverse conditions, burning themselves out in the process. So at the onset of the pandemic stay-at-home order, additional staff was hired to shoulder the extra work.
Refresh and Renew—Resources and support are provided to FoodbankSBC staff for self-care, important at any time, but crucial during a crisis.
Lisa Osborn, incoming AWC-SB President, commented, “Perfect lesson: learn from the current crisis and EXPECT something like that might happen again. Flexible resiliency.”
Antoinette Chartier, Hospitality Management Services (HMS), SES Conference Director/Event Planner
Antoinette shared some wisdom regarding event planning:
Know Your Contract—Ask to include a re-booking clause and carefully consider your attrition rate, the percentage by which your attendee count can fall within the estimated number.
“Force Majeure”—When having to cancel or postpone an event, in this case due to pandemic:
- Involve stakeholders in the decision
- Consider attendee travel routes
- Cancel sooner rather than later
- Always have a Plan B!
Doing It Differently — When shifting your event to a virtual model, get help from someone who has done it before and be sure to have stellar tech support. As we move back toward in-person events, opt for outdoor venues and consider traffic patterns of guests, ie, spread out food/drink tables to the four corners of the space to avoid crowding in those areas.
Lysa Urban, Marketing Manager of Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV)
Founded in 1991 by Marsha Bailey, Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) is devoted to supporting the economic well-being of the community. In this time of struggle for small businesses, the organization has nimbly pivoted to meet business owners where they are, providing loans, training, advisory services, and emergency response programs.
Find New Ways—As of mid-March, all of their classes shifted to online format, and they are now providing:
- A response line to answer questions and provide resources to business owners
- Free webinars on urgent topics
- Additional staff, increased hours of service, and waived fees
Celebrate Achievement—Lysa shared the inspiring stories of some of their clients success in pivoting their businesses to new forms of service. A catering company experienced a 100% loss of business as events were cancelled, but with guidance from WEV were able to transition to creating home meals for local residents, collaborating with Chef Jose Andres of World Central Kitchen, and providing meals delivered to seniors.
The owner of VeloPro Cycles worked with a WEV business recovery advisor, increasing advertising to a wider regional market, resulting in new business as customers came from out-of-town to purchase bicycles they couldn’t find closer to home.
Be There Now—“With WEV, the help came immediately for our clients,” said Lysa.
Outgoing AWC-SB President Carolyn Jabs summed it up.
“Collaboration—that’s where the strength lies for the community, people bringing what they have to offer in difficult circumstances.”
Written by Justine Sutton