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Posted: June 24, 2016
Last modified: January 19, 2017

Some roads may be closed, but businesses remain open.

Local businesses and their customers are gradually adapting to I-4 Ultimate construction. The construction may cause employees and customers to use alternate routes to avoid road closures throughout the duration of the 21-mile improvement project, but they can still get where they want to go.

The I-4 Ultimate project offers information through advanced construction alerts, tweets, monthly newsletters and its website ati4ultimate.com. Despite the spectrum of available resources, community partners like government entities, residents and local businesses are encouraged to help spread the word and increase awareness of construction activity.

There are growing pains during construction, but businesses and their customers should be prepared to grow together, suggested Dan Knapp, a mentor with the Orlando chapter of SCORE, a national business counseling nonprofit supported by the U.S. Small Business Association.

“It can be a challenge,” the retired businessman said.

Regular customers generally are on autopilot when traveling to their favorite stores, Knapp noted. So, he urges vigilance during construction times in the event of a detour.

“Many people aren’t familiar with the streets their businesses are located on because they just don’t think about it,’” Knapp said. “They’ll say, ‘I’ve been going there for years, I know my way.’”

Communication with employees and customers is crucial, he said.

“It’s especially important to communicate with employees,” Knapp said. “Customers expect all employees to be knowledgeable, so business owners and managers should keep them in the loop as well.”

For new customers or clients, business leaders should focus on their target demographic, he said.

“Where are your customers coming from and how are they getting there?” Knapp asked. “Social media can work or handouts can work, it all depends on your target audience.”

Regardless of the medium, business leaders should maintain a steady stream of information regarding any changes with their customers, he said.

“Customers may not always be happy,” Knapp said. “But they certainly will appreciate the information.”

Below are some tips for businesses:

  • Take advantage of existing business associations. Look to your chamber of commerce or other organizations to help organize awareness efforts.
  • Aggressively communicate to your customers how to get to your business. Use your existing means of customer communication. Include construction information in your newsletter, bill-stuffers and invoices.
  • Communicate travel routes with your suppliers and schedule deliveries at non-peak travel times and hours when construction isn’t happening.
  • Consider creating a landing page on your website with links or handouts regarding closures in your area.
  • Use city-approved temporary signs directing motorists to your business.
  • Hold construction-related events, such as special discounts, cookouts, or festivals with activities, prizes and treats to draw customers. Distribute calendars of these events.

Additional resources for businesses, like sample emails or social media postings, are available here: https://i4ultimate.com/public-outreach-education/toolkit/.