Survey provides business with insights how to survive pandemic

(Photo courtesy of Workforce WindsorEssex)

Once the pandemic ends, even the smallest businesses will need to have an online presence and use the information it provides.

That is one key finding from the latest Windsor-Essex Economic Development Survey.

Despite not being able to hold on-site visits with local businesses, the team that conducted the survey and compiled the results received a record number of responses this year. A total of 280 companies took part, and 41 per cent were micro-businesses, those with four or fewer employees.

Not surprisingly, the survey showed there have been winners during the pandemic, and there have been losers.

“Most of our industries are poised to recover,” said Invest Windsor Essex CEO Stephen MacKenzie. “But, as you well know, our tourism and hospitality and retail were hit incredibly hard.”

New in this year’s survey, some predictions what businesses might need to do to transition to a post-pandemic market.

For retail, hospitality, and tourism operators, it could mean an extension of provincial and federal programs designed to keep them afloat during COVID-19. That includes the Canada Employee Wage Subsidy and various loan programs.

However, their survival will also depend on their ability to pivot, as manufacturing did early on in the pandemic.

“Moving online will be key,” said Professor of Data Analytics at St. Clair College Manjari Maheshawi. “Data analytics means you need a lot of data to figure out what can be done better. You can improve your processes, improve your customer service, and look at how your competitors are doing. It’s just a matter of mindset.”

Maheshwari also said residents in Windsor-Essex want to focus their purchasing power on local business.

“People who live in the region want to support local,” said Maheshwari. “So, I think if we can promote that more in the region, that will be a benefit.”

The pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on how respondents do business. Earlier this month, Statistics Canada’s Labour Market Survey said 5.1-million Canadians are working from home, and Tashlyn Teskey with Workforce WindsorEssex, said 12 per cent of local respondents indicated in their workplace, they might indefinitely.

MacKenzie noted it depended on the sector. For manufacturing, it is not an option, but those in administrative services, sales, or government are more likely to realize efficiencies by shrinking the physical footprint of their operation.

“The Windsor-Essex Economic Development Survey provides valuable data and insights that help shape the region’s action plan, including COVID-19 recovery strategies and relevant programming,” said MacKenzie. “The outcomes from this survey will help Windsor-Essex overcome the economic challenges we have faced and continue to grow and remain competitive.”