RibbedTee’s Mike Schwarz on Surviving the COVID-19 crisis: Supporting Employees and Doubling Down on Customer Outreach, SEO

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Mike Schwarz, founder of RibbedTee, talks about the impact of COVID-19 on his sales, future planning and community.

RibbedTee makes some of my absolute favorite supima cotton undershirts in the world and has other lines dedicated to performance underwear made from technical fabrics.

Their products are made-in-America and, overall, RibbedTee is one of my editor’s picks for best brands for men.

New customers can take 20% off their first RibbedTee purchase via this link.

I asked Mike about the impact the coronavirus is having on his business and community:

Impact on sales and operations

Mike indicated “a notable drop in average daily sales revenue, with some days being very low compared to our average.”

He added:

Some days can be very low, but then for no apparent reason we’ll see a day that has a reasonable sales volume. Prior to the outbreak, sales were much more consistent, with little to no daily volatility. This makes it more difficult to predict what the month’s revenue will be.

He said his supply chain is still mostly operational; “however, they’ve scaled back on their staff. As such, we’ll have delays in different parts of our production process.”

How RibbedTee is adjusting to the COVID-19 crisis

For now, Mike is keeping his staff employed without notable changes to their hours or pay. “Ideally, we want to keep it this way,” he said.

RibbedTee is pulling back on low-performing, higher cost advertising. He will need to monitor the impact, looking at ad-spend vs revenue in the coming weeks.

He said,

We’re also looking at the possibility of supplementing what we offer by producing non-surgical face masks, by recycling some of our not-for-resale undershirts stock. Some may be sold, along with others that we’ll donate.

Mike is also taking a hard look at RibbedTee’s product lines and their sales performance. “We’ve identified some that are not performing well enough to continue future production, so we’re going to put those on clearance in April and hope that will stimulate sales,” he said.

“As other businesses are doing, we’re looking at the various financial relief programs that are being made available, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), along with other local and state programs,” Mike added.

Doubling down on customer outreach, SEO and content

“Over the 12 years we’ve been in business, we’ve been fortunate enough to grow a very large customer base,” Mike told me.  RibbedTee is planning an outreach program to past customers with news and special offers in the hope of stimulating enough sales to grow the company’s cash reserve

He is also doubling down on SEO and content. “With overall ad-spend down, more people will find us via search, so I want to make sure we show up as high in organic search as possible,” he observed.

Supporting small businesses like RibbedTee

It’s critical to support small businesses during this time. Right now, with many stores closed and people under stay-at-home orders, e-commerce is a lifeline for companies like RibbedTee. (And yes, the post office, UPS, FedEx and Amazon are still delivering packages. Here’s what the experts say about receiving a package in the age of COVID-19.)

I asked Mike about how people can support his Made-in-the-USA sourced business and others like his.

Mike said,

If they are able, take advantage of any sales, and make purchases from their favorite brands or business. Even if the business isn’t offering a sale, it would be helpful to show your support by making a purchase. Spending on discretionary items can be the difference between those businesses staying in business or closing their doors for good.

He added that RibbedTee will be sending out news in the coming weeks of its clearance sales to prior customers and people subscribed to our newsletter.

“For those who aren’t yet subscribed to our newsletter, we’d appreciate them joining — plus, they’ll get lots of great information about underwear & undershirt wearing tips and best practices!” Mike said.

Subscribe to RibbedTee’s email list using the form at the bottom of their website.

Readers can explore other small and independent businesses to support:

  1. See how these entrepreneurs are responding to the coronavirus crisis with optimism;
  2. Upgrade your Work from Home outfits with performance professional clothing;
  3. Explore these alternatives to Warby Parker that will let you try on eyeglasses at home;
  4. Discover more than 60 innovative brands helping men dress sharp (and who could use your support right now).

About Jake

Jake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age.  Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.

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