Podcast: The Importance of Plan B with Corey Tisdale, EVP of BBQGuys
We know how important it is for ecommerce businesses to get all the guidance and insight possible right now. To that end, we’re launching Freshly Baked, Bread’s podcast about rising above challenges and going against the grain. We’ll be talking to clients, partners, members of the Bread team, and anyone else who has something interesting to say about running the most crucial aspects of an ecommerce business.
For our first episode, we spoke with Corey Tisdale, Executive Vice President of BBQGuys. Once Louisiana enacted social distancing measures, their business changed overnight. They found out on a Sunday night that they were going to have to make their entire operation remote by 5 PM on Monday. However, this wasn’t the company’s first brush with a business-interrupting catastrophe. They also weathered the storm during Hurricane Katrina, and their experience helped them be more prepared for the future. Listen to the full podcast here, and check out our overview below:
How is BBQGuys faring right now, and is there anything unique about your current situation or your approach in navigating the COVID-19 outbreak?
Corey Tisdale, Executive Vice President, BBQGuys: When our governor announced the stay-at-home orders for Louisiana, we had to figure out a plan to get 160 people working from home the next day. The order took effect at 5:00 PM on a Monday. By 4:30 PM, we had everyone out of the building, and by 5:00 PM, they were back up and running, answering phones and answering chats for the rest of the night on their regular hours. If we weren’t able to be decisive and move quickly—and if we didn’t have an awesome team that trusted each other, communicated well, and was open to change—we wouldn’t have been able to do it no matter what.
Did BBQGuys already have a disaster plan in place?
CT: Since we’re in a hurricane-prone area, we did have some amount of a disaster response plan in place. Luckily we had done a survey to see who had what type of equipment at home. We recalled all the company hotspots and sent them home with everyone who didn’t have an internet connection, and we were pulling computers out of walls to send home with people who didn’t have a desktop or a laptop issued to them or at their house already. I can’t say enough about the whole crew getting through that quickly, positively, and effectively. I’ve never seen anything like it, it was very impressive.
Your company was in operation during Hurricane Katrina as well—was there anything you learned from that experience that you have applied to this current situation?
CT: With Hurricane Katrina, it became clear that a big enough event can take everything you know about how the world works and turn it on its head. If you know what your Plan B is, you can just focus 100% on Plan A. I hadn’t really planned for a worldwide pandemic, but we were able to adapt a good portion of our natural disaster preparedness plan to build on top of that. Knowing that we had a Plan B, we were able to pull a few Plan B’s together to make a Plan B+, and we just executed that as best we could.
What kind of content have you been creating to effectively communicate with, reassure, and stay connected with your customers?
CT: Now all of our videographers are creating recipe videos and cooking videos themselves at home, and really adding their own personality by going into the challenges they’ve faced while making it. I don’t think anybody knows quite what to do right now, so they’re trying out new things. That comes through in the communication and that comes through in the content being produced.
Are more people looking to BBQGuys right now for equipment and support?
CT: Normally what you’d see is that on a Sunday or a holiday, people would interact on social media and visit the site. Then, everyone would wait to be back in the office to actually shop. Now a whole bunch more people are interacting on social media and the site, doing things that appeared to be research-related. The real uptick in purchases has been for Kamado grills, smokers, and freestanding gas grills. Shoppers have also been buying gadgets galore. It seems like people are substantially changing their behavior based on spending more time with their family.
What’s been your experience partnering with Bread?
CT: It’s been almost 4 years since we started working with Bread, but for probably 15 years we had tried to offer real-time financing on the website, because we knew from having a storefront experience that a lot of customers did want to finance outdoor kitchen experiences so they could pay over time.
As the world has changed as part of this, we’ve seen that the way people are using financing is changing. There’s a level of uncertainty right now, people want to keep as much cash on hand, but at the same time they want to upgrade their barbecue so it’s more pleasurable to cook with their family more often. Being able to offer that financing is helping people who otherwise wouldn’t upgrade their grill or get into grilling right now to take that step.
I would advocate that for anyone who is looking to increase sales of any purchase that’s bigger than an impulse buy, I would definitely look at figuring out a way to offer an instantaneous financing product like Bread, where the people who do the financing also care about your customers.
Stay Tuned for More
This has been Freshly baked, brought to you by Bread. Thank you again to Corey Tisdale and BBQGuys for taking the time to record such an in-depth interview. If you’re looking to spend some more time cooking outdoors with your family and you need a smoker, grill, pizza oven, or any grilling accessories you can imagine, then head on over to BBQGuys.com.