E.D. Corner: September 2020

Good Day,

For as long as I can remember, I have always viewed the Tuesday after Labour Day as the start of the New Year – even more so than January 1.  Mainly, that is because it signals the beginning and ending of two very tangible things – the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year.  Those are two significant yearly events, much bigger than a number changing on a calendar.  However, like everything else seems to be in 2020, the Tuesday after Labour Day felt different.

For many boards within Central Counties and across the province, school didn’t start on Tuesday.  There was a decided lack of school buses on the roads, crossing guards at major intersections and kids on the sidewalks.  It felt off.  My kids, like many, got an entire extra week off as the board tried to sort out cohorts and class schedules.  And even now that they are back in school, my two in high school only attend class in-person two or three days a week and even then just in the morning.

We made each of our kids pick and write down, the 7-10 kids that were going to be their bubble for the foreseeable future.  There was no real arguments from any of them and they understand the importance of doing it and sticking to it.  Not from a health perspective but from a financial one as both Trish and I own businesses reliant on consumer visitation.  Bubble picking is prevalent in various forms all over the place.  And the most interesting thing about it is that each of their bubbles of friends are being way more social than ever before!  They are going to restaurants, attractions, conservation areas, etc., spending time (and money) together.  Gavin hasn’t been home for dinner in two weeks, which you would think is saving us money but I know that it is going to even out soon when the parents of the kids whose houses he is eating at send their kids to my place for payback!

The point is that this is not a normal year.  This is not a normal September.  And each business has the opportunity to take advantage of wonky school and work schedules to drive additional visitation when you normally wouldn’t see it.  GlowZone 360 is seeing bubble groups come for some active entertainment on weekdays between noon and 4pm because they are done school for the day when they normally wouldn’t be.  Birthday parties are difficult because parents are reluctant to send their kids as guests.  GlowZone 360 recognized that and started promoting “Mask-eurade Parties”, inviting family unit and bubble groups to spend time together in a fun, safe, active environment.  Business is nowhere near the level it was at last year, but the company is taking advantage of every opportunity to welcome people through its doors.

A lot of people are desperate to find something to do with their family or social bubble that is outside the house and gives them the opportunity to do something different and fun.  They also want to feel safe.  Businesses across Central Counties are in a prime position to take advantage of that need.  A paid experience typically comes with safety supervision and management.  The current surge in cases isn’t coming from paid attractions, conservations areas, restaurants, hotels, etc.  It is in uncontrolled locations like public parks, beaches, backyards and homes that the rules get broken because there is no one there to enforce them.  When you are doing your advertising, social media, etc., make sure you explain the policies you have in place to keep them safe.  And acknowledge that things aren’t normal, but you are still around to give them some semblance of normalcy.

On a completely different topic, I am absolutely thrilled to announce that the Board of Directors unanimously endorsed and approved a new program designed to help you out.  Re-opening your business most likely came with unbudgeted expenses for PPE equipment (masks, plexiglass, sanitizing stations, signage, etc.).  These expenses came at a time when your revenues were either down substantially or non-existent.  Central Counties revised their budget to free up funds that will help you offset these costs.  We will pay 50% of your PPE expenses to a maximum of $1,000 ($2,000 in total PPE expenses).  The link to the program is in the newsletter.  It is a very simple process and we will be accepting the applications on a first come, first reimbursed basis. I know that $1,000 is not a tonne of money, but I also know that every little bit helps.

That’s it for this month.  If you are stuck on how to take advantage of the changing consumer market, I would love to hear from you to discuss.  Sometimes, just bouncing some ideas around brings one or two of them to life.  And the more we know about what you are doing, the easier it is for us to include your messaging on our social channels and storytelling.  Please reach out to me at cthibeault@centralcounties.ca and lets start the conversation!

Have a great day!

Chuck Thibeault


Central Counties is located North of Toronto


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Chuck Thibeault

Executive Director, Chuck Thibeault