As businesses throughout the country have struggled to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, BBQGuys bucked the trend. The Baton Rouge, LA, e-commerce retailer, specializing in grills and outdoor living products, saw noticeable growth during this period. Year-over-year sales volume almost doubled; in response, the company created new jobs, expanding its workforce to meet the demand. That’s especially noteworthy in a state that’s experienced a job loss of more than 300,000 due to COVID-19.
So, how did BBQGuys pull it off? Here are some of the keys to how the company survived—and even thrived—during the pandemic.
Preparation Made the Company Ready for Anything
No one anticipated the far-reaching effects COVID-19 would have. BBQGuys adapted its disaster management plan to these unique circumstances. Although the plan focused on short-term operations in case BBQGuys’ facility was closed due to emergency, the company revised it to be flexible and work over the long-term, including embracing remote work.
The BBQGuys Team Pivoted Quickly
BBQGuys’ leadership sprang into action when Louisiana issued stay-at-home orders on a Sunday. The company’s IT team made sure employees took their work computers home with them and set up a system that allowed roughly 160 employees (or 90% of the staff, outside of warehouse team members) to work virtually.
By Tuesday, everything ran smoothly. Also, there were increases in social media traffic and grill sales by the end of the week.
As the pandemic progressed, BBQGuys even created additional work-from-home opportunities, such as positions for five online sales reps, search engine marketing manager, and search engine marketing analyst. The quick, smart response paid off.
Strong Supply Chains Kept Operations Flowing
The IT team came through again, helping BBQGuys coordinate with its suppliers. The company got valuable data.
For example, they got each supplier’s inventory on hand and the schedules they were working under to move products as quickly and safely as possible with the new COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. In some cases, BBQGuys would even send customer orders directly to the supplier if it meant a faster turnaround time.
It’s Safety First on the Job
While the majority of BBQGuys’ employees worked remotely, the warehouse staff continued to come into the Baton Rouge headquarters to fill orders. To protect these essential workers, the company followed all state and local guidelines, as well as U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.
The company enacted measures to clean facilities more often, as well as increase handwashing and sanitation policies. Furthermore, the organization trained warehouse employees hired during the pandemic remotely. Newly hired work-from-home team members were also trained remotely. All with the goal to enhance safety.
Employees Received Rewards for Their Hard Work
The BBQGuys leadership team recognized that their employees were going above and beyond to adjust to these new working conditions. The company showed its gratitude by adding certain perks to its standard benefits packages, which already included 401(k) matches and medical insurance.
All remote employees received a monthly $50 food allowance, while warehouse workers enjoyed a daily on-site meal provided by local restaurants. Through the spring and summer, warehouse staffers also earned performance bonuses and appreciation pay for their hard work.
BBQGuys Stayed Connected to Customers
As an e-commerce company, BBQGuys understood the value of social media and had built a loyal following pre-pandemic. Once the company shifted gears under the stay-at-home orders, employees regularly posted to maintain customer engagement with the brand.
In fact, BBQGuys even hosted a virtual party in April. People shared photos of their backyards on the company’s Instagram page, and the team posted recipes and videos with grilling experts.
BBQGuys works tirelessly to stay strong during the COVID-19 pandemic, for both its employees and customers. It’s easy to see why Adam Knapp, the president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, told Area Development that BBQGuys was “one of Louisiana’s great tech industry entrepreneurial success stories.”