The Impending Grocery Strike Could Devastate Innocent Businesses

Grocery store workers in Southern California have authorized a strike as part of their labor negotiations with the management at Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons. Whether this leads to an actual strike or if it is just used as a negotiating tactic remains to be seen, but what we need to consider are the ramifications for small businesses that rely on supermarkets as anchor stores and those who service these markets.

Below is a press release I recently issued on this important topic that as of yet has been ignored by the press. 

If your business relies on a supermarket for much of its business or as an achor store driving traffic to your location, please let me know by e-mail. Even if the rest of the media ignores this story, I will do my best to publicize this issue.

Innocent small business owners and employees in Southern California have a lot to lose from an impending grocery store strike, says small business expert Mark Deo.

With a strike authorized by the United Food and Commercial Workers becoming increasingly more likely, it is important that small business owners that have locations in shopping centers anchored by Supermarkets prepare now for the potential drop off in foot traffic.

The last major supermarket strike/lockout in 2003 cost the grocery stores $2 billion in business and many workers lost their life savings. What is often unreported is the drop off in business that the thousands of small businesses that rely on these stores incurred. Businesses that provide products for sale to supermarkets lost hundreds of millions in the last strike, and so did those merchants that have storefronts in areas that rely on supermarkets to drive traffic.

“If negotiations break down between workers and management, a strike could occur at any time” says small business expert and author Mark Deo. “It is important that business owners prepare now for the drop off in business they are likely to suffer”

He offers these five tips for business owners that may face difficulties:

  1. Create an emergency fund. To help you get through unexpected drop offs due to strikes, natural disasters, or other uncontrollable issues, save some money when sales are good. By committing a small amount per week to this fund, you can survive temporary reduced sales.
  2. Get contact information from your customers. At your storefront, obtain as many e-mail addresses as you can from your clients, which will allow you to maintain contact with them in the event of a strike. You can then use this contact information to offer specials or other reasons to get them to your location in case you see reduced foot traffic.
  3. Communicate with picketers. Meet the strike organizers at your location, and make sure that they understand that your business also needs access to the parking lot and driveways that are shared with the supermarket.
  4. Ensure your online presence is ready. In 2003, many small businesses weren’t engaging in e-commerce or had minimal online outreach to their prospects and clients. In 2011, most small businesses have websites, and you should make sure that your website is ready to sell your products online and accept payment in case you have disruptions at your location. You can also use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to reach clients and drive additional sales.
  5. Improve your delivery offers. If practical for your business, offer to deliver your products and services to those customers that don’t wish to show up to a location near picket lines. A modest delivery fee can help to recoup the additional cost. You may also find that this winds up being a valuable addition to your business model.

With the threat of a strike looming large, it is imperative that small business owners prepare for the worst, or they risk being a victim of a situation over which they have no control.

About Mark Deo
Mark Deo is an advocate and expert with over 20 years experience helping small business owners grow their business. He has hosted a show for CBS radio and appeared on the Fox Business channel, and has written articles for and been quoted by Business Week, Entrepreneur, Fortune, CNN/Money, the LA Times, the Hollywood Reporter, and numerous other publications. Mark was the “go to” expert for small business fallout due to the WGA strike in 2007, and has become a media favorite. In 2003 he was named “Small Business Journalist of the Year” by the Small Business Administration, recognizing his work as host of “The Small Business Hour” on CBS radio. His first book, “The Rules of Attraction” was one of’s top 100 business books for 2009, and his next book, “This Isn’t Your Daddy’s Business Anymore” will be published in early 2012.

Little Guys Take the Biggest Hit From Writers’ Strike

While writers are on strike and studios are shutting down production, who will most be affected? Small business. Like most industries, entertainment relies heavily on small businesses for many of the elements required to produce films and television shows.

According to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. (LACEDC), on a “mid-budget” film ($17 million), 304 direct and indirect jobs are created and $1.2 million state sales and income taxes are generated. For a “large budget” film ($70 million), 928 direct and indirect jobs are created, while $10.6 million in state taxes are generated.

The bulk of these jobs are independent contractors and employees of small businesses. There are a myriad of companies that cater “on-set,” rent out lighting and camera equipment, provide locations for shoots, and perform virtually every function a production needs. Some will survive the strike but others will not.

Whether you are in entertainment or any other industry here’s how you can practice attraction in order to thrive in a difficult market:

Connect with Super-users – Think non-traditional sales and marketing. Most broad advertising doesn’t work and traditional selling pushes more people away than it attracts. Identify a highly targeted audience and use the Internet, content malleability, affiliate and alliance relationships to dominate it.
Destroy and Rebuild -Use this targeted audience to help define the re-engineering of your products and services. Introduce innovation in everything you do. This is a good time to experiment with new approaches. Focus on getting the best people and creating the best product.
Create Standards and Systems – Developing systems allows you to maintain tight control of every area of your business while you are re-engineering. For example, establish a system for tracking and forecasting cash. This metric is more important than your profit and loss statement. Many companies can operate at a loss for years if they’re able to manage their cash position. Know your projected flow at least 3 months from now. If you have a solid grasp on your income and expenses, you have a much higher chance of survival!