Not long ago I was interviewed by Chain Store Age on Phillips Edison’s approach to reopening and how we navigated the COVID-19 situation. During that conversation, I shared our success and touched on the programs we rolled out to help our neighbors reopen. Here’s an update on our results and some more detail on our strategy.
When COVID-19 first made its presence widely known in the United States and communities across the country implemented stay-at-home orders, the businesses operating within Phillips Edison’s 310+ shopping centers were significantly impacted. Approximately 2,100 of our neighbors were temporarily closed. Unable to operate or operating at reduced levels due to occupancy restrictions, many of the small, locally owned businesses that were affected had significant concerns regarding the future of their operations.
The PECO team quickly developed and launched a series of initiatives designed to help our neighbors through the crisis. Our goal was to see at least 1,800 neighbors reopen by July 31, 2020. To achieve that, our cross-functional teams worked together to provide a comprehensive program of information, tools and resources under the PECO Connect™ banner. Efforts included:
- Reaching out to every one of our 5,500 neighbors to assess the status of their businesses and provide information on available CARES Act funding and other local, regional or industry-specific assistance.
- A Front Row To-Go™ program which gives shoppers front row access for convenient pick-up. PECO facilitated this offering for neighbors and their customers with clearly marked parking spaces.
- Working with certain restaurant neighbors to add outdoor seating, where feasible.
- A digital toolkit which includes downloadable social media graphics; printable signage; customizable flyers and coupons; and industry guides and blueprints to help neighbors communicate with customers both on-site and online.
- On-Site signage announcing to passersby that the shopping centers were open and encouraging customers to shop local.
- A webinar series featuring information and ideas from respected authors and digital marketing experts. Topics range from how to apply for the PPP loan program to how to engage customers while getting ready to reopen.
- A video for restaurant owners titled “Reimagining Your Restaurant Business,” providing expert advice on logistics, menu design and other topics.
- A rewards program which provides PECO’s local small-shop neighbors with credit toward their PECO account for completing certain actions such as applying for small business loans through the CARES Act, reopening within 30 days of being allowed per mandates, and leveraging social media.
I’m pleased to say that as of July 31, 97% of our total neighbor spaces were open and operating. Our neighbors have been superheroes, finding creative ways to reimagine their businesses in the face of ever-changing new restrictions and health recommendations. They’ve increased internet sales, implemented pick-up and delivery, created new outdoor offerings and more. The PECO team’s dedication to helping our communities and tireless efforts supported these entrepreneurial-minded businesses. Neighbors helping neighbors equals big results and stronger communities.