It started with a post in a neighborhood-specific Facebook group, something I’ve been spending way too much time on these days:

Curious…is anyone else keeping a mental note of businesses small and large that they want to avoid in the future given their apparent disregard for public health? A woman wrote.

By the time I saw this post there were hundreds of replies and a very interesting discussion brewing. The bottom line: in my suburban community of about 96,000, the majority are paying attention to how businesses respond to this crisis and aren’t afraid to call out attitudes/actions that turn them off. It might be a comment an owner makes, something an employee shares, or even a news report mentioning a specific business that grabs their attention.

Here are four red flags turning them off:


1. Disregarding state orders or CDC recommendations. Searching for or implementing loopholes in the current orders is a huge no-no. Not only can it put your boutique in jeopardy but it comes across like you don’t really care about vulnerable populations.

What they like: Businesses that are explicitly stating everything they’re doing to comply and keep customers/employees safe. Bonus points for stuff like patriotic window displays or sharing stories about how you’re helping the community.

2. Disconcerting/dismissive comments. Putting down state agencies, politicizing the tragedy, or seemingly acting nonchalant about loss of life are sure to land your store on the “no-visit” list.

What they like: Simple gestures of appreciation for essential workers, hospital staff and anyone else on the front line fighting this virus.

3. Employees not being taken care of. Forcing staff to work if they feel uncomfortable and/or sick, not taking precautions, or dismissing without severance have all been called out.

What they like: Businesses that offer employees paid time off or other small perks are winning the community’s heart, with many pledging to support them.

4. Pushing product. This is more of a gray area, because there are absolutely people out there striving for some sense of normalcy. However, in general if your only posts are about new products and payment terms, it’s coming across as insensitive and obnoxious.

What they like: Absolutely share business details but don’t harp on them. That information should be displayed on the homepage of your website and via pinned posts, but otherwise surrounded by positivity, inspiring stories and valuable information.