Hurricanes and Business Teams

I’m up in NYC and watched hurricane Irene pass through yesterday. Its fascinating to watch the 24 vertically packed square miles of Manhattan get ready for a potential disaster.

I couldn’t help but notice the competitive advantage afforded small, one storefront operations when mass transit shut down.

Chain stores and resturants, with multiple locations, made the easy decision to shutter operations for the weekend well in advance of the storm. For them, the logistics needed to manage staffing and arrange alternative transportation simply mandated calling a city wide time out and waiting for the storm to pass. Starbucks was one of the first businesses to make that call and close their stores in the upper West Side where I am.

Contrast that with the numerous small busineses that – once it was obvious the storm had significantly weakened – stayed open Sat night and opened/re-opened early Sun morning. Small markets, coffee shops, bars and restaurants where the staff all felt invested in their business and along with the owners realized the opportunity the closure of their competitors afforded them.

I overheard a conversation between a waitress and a cashier at a small cafe this morning while paying for breakfast. The waitress, waiting for the cashier to run a credit card, remarked that her Mom had called 5 times last night to make sure she was OK but she was sure her decision to stay “in town” was going to pay off big. The cashier agreed, and said that today would likely be the single biggest day they had ever seen and they were all going to make a lot of money.

Think about the messages here. A small team, working together, sharing the profits from a unique opportunity, willingly pitching in for the good of the enterprise.

What would your employees have done? What would you have wanted them to do?

Safe in NYC. Cheers. DC

About dougcurling

a compassionate capitalist
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One Response to Hurricanes and Business Teams

  1. Betsy Wills says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to meeting you. Betsy Wills, Nashville

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