They’re back! The feared orange construction barrels have risen from their wintery graves to haunt us on our daily commutes and leisurely shopping excursions or evening night out.
We fear them for various reasons. They might add precious minutes to a routine travel route. They confuse us by migrating from the left lane in the morning to the right lane in the afternoon. Entrances to our favorite businesses seem to vanish. And the dust kicked up by driving through a strip of gravel mars the pristine finish of a freshly washed car. But I guarantee that someone else fears the orange barrels more than you – business owners and their employees.
A survey conducted by the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce Small Business Advisory Council found that 68% of business respondents saw their revenues decline during a road construction project because people avoid the area. Think for a moment about the employee who worries their job will be lost because customers fear the hassle of the orange barrel. And don’t forget the business owner who can’t sleep at night because they must devise a plan to attract customers and keep the doors open. Now that’s real fear!
The Greater Madison Chamber and its partners have created the Road Construction Survival Guide to help ease the fears of the business owner. The guide highlights two recent local efforts organized to inform drivers that businesses were open during road construction. The Willy Lives campaign included colorful yard signs, a special facebook page and a series of business-generating promotional events in the neighborhood. The Monona Drive’s Alive campaign included email notices to potential customers with daily lunch and dinner specials for area restaurants, a free park-and-ride bus loop for special events and coupon books usable at area businesses.
The guide is easily scalable to work in your local community. In fact, it contains such great advice that chambers of commerce, cities and state highway departments all across the U.S. and even Canada have created localized versions.
If you live in the Madison area or plan to visit soon, please make a point to conquer your orange barrel fear and frequent businesses along East Johnson Street, State Street, the Outer Capitol Loop, Campus Drive, and the Mineral Point Road/County Highway M intersection. It’s easier than you think. Take a deep breath, relax and remember that you have the power to help a business survive road construction. Just stop and shop. Repeat often.