Coping with Construction ▸ Ways to Cope
Three guiding principles will help you cope during project construction:
- Get to know the project leadership, usually the project manager or project inspector. These people are the first sources of project information, and they know the day-to-day activities. They will need direct contact with you throughout the project so they can keep you informed and respond to your concerns. It is helpful to know their names and phone numbers.
- Organize and collaborate with your neighbor businesses. Strengthen your business community by joining forces and sharing resources to find mutually beneficial solutions to inconveniences and to communicate to your customers.
- Communicate with your customers. The City communicates construction updates to the broader public in a variety of ways: flyers, newsletters, and media releases are some examples. But you can create more targeted communications to your customers to ensure them that you are still open and to entice them to keep coming back.
Tips and Ideas
Take advantage of existing business associations. Look to your Chamber of Commerce or other organizations to help organize and lead efforts to work with the City during a construction project. This may involve establishing a special committee under the umbrella of an organization.
Create a new association or committee comprising your neighbor businesses. Appoint leaders to attend construction progress meetings or communicate with the project manager on behalf of the group. If you don’t have such a group already, this community alliance can continue after construction is complete.
Aggressively communicate to your customers how to get to your business. You can do this through print and broadcast advertising, flyers, and direct mail. Place street maps in print ads and direct mail.
Work with other businesses in your area and pool your resources for signage, coupons, or even a web site.
Use your existing means of customer communication. Include construction information in your newsletter, bill-stuffers, and invoices.
Use creative ways to advertise on the radio, which is an effective way to reach motorists.
Conduct a cooperative advertising campaign with a special logo and slogans.
Use City-approved temporary signs directing motorists to your business. The sign with the arrow in the photo above is an example of an acceptable guide sign, for which you need a City permit. A sign permit application form can be found in the "Resources" section of this guide. You can also call Transportation and Utilities using the contact information on this page.
Hold construction-related events, such as special sales, cookouts, or festivals with activities, prizes, and treats to draw customers. Distribute calendars of these events. Hold promotions offering discounts for frequent customers rewarding them for coming back.
Plan your business remodeling when construction is at its peak near your property.
Communicate travel routes with your suppliers and schedule deliveries at non-peak travel times.
Run shuttle services from customer parking to businesses.
Have employees car pool or take the bus.
Advice and Experience
Kent Stadler, owner of Kent’s Shoes, used radio advertising and a sense of humor to communicate with his customers during the East “O” Street widening project. Messages in his advertising included making challenges to his mostly male clientele (“It’s a man thing to get to Kent’s Shoes”) and renaming the intersection where his store is located to “66th and Shoe” instead of 66th and “Q” Streets.
In spite of the closure of that intersection, Stadler said his business was more profitable that year than the year before.
“There’s never a good time to do this (construction), but it’s got to be done.”
“A business has to be ready and willing to speak up and to tell their people what’s going on–or they’re not going to find you during construction…My guys found me.”
Chad Winters, owner of Leon’s Food Mart, used existing means of communication to tell his customers about construction occurring on South Street in front of his store. The store printed maps in its regular weekly newspaper inserts with the message, "You can still get to us."
Winters also held a cookout promotion during Independence Day week, with a local radio station doing a live remote broadcast. His store also hung posters and worked with area merchants to produce signs directing motorists to area stores.
Terry Reynoldson, assistant manager for Earl May Nursery and Garden Center, said his store offered special promotions during the East “O” Street project. The store advertised the promotions in the newspaper with maps illustrating how to get to the store. The store also rewarded customers who ventured through the inconvenience of the construction by giving them discount coupons for their next visit.
Reynoldson said getting to know the project manager was also helpful.
"It was good having one person to talk to," he said.
Wendy Birdsall, president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, said her organization can be a resource for businesses. In the past, the Chamber has acted as a liaison to make sure the impacts to individual businesses are understood by the City and the contractor.