Customer call! How can we help?

Nearly every week, I travel to all three counties in Delaware, visiting businesses large and small on what I call “customer calls.” At every visit, I tour the business, learn about what they do and then sit down to talk with as many people as I can – from owners to receptionists and everyone in between – to hear how their business is doing. I’ve made thousands of customer calls throughout my time in public office, and, on each one, I always ask the same questions:

How are you doing? What can we – the Congress, elected leaders and my staff and me – do to help? And, how are we doing? What could we be doing better?

I like to say that elected officials don’t create jobs. We create a nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation, so that business owners can create good-paying, stable jobs for other Delawareans. I welcome the honest conversations my staff and I get to have on our customer calls and I always keep these discussions in mind at my day job in Congress.

This week, we celebrated the 45th annual National Small Business Week. Delaware is home to nearly 80,000 small businesses, accounting for roughly 98 percent of all business enterprises throughout the state. Employing more than 180,000 Delawareans, our state’s small business community continues to create new jobs every day, and our entrepreneurs and small business owners are the backbone of our economy.

On Monday, I kicked off Small Business Week by making a customer call to one of the Delaware Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Businesses of the Year, ReNove Medical Health Spa in Rehoboth Beach. It was great to hear first-hand from fellow veteran Dr. Parsons about what has led to her success as a small business owner, and to learn how we can continue to make it easier for small businesses like hers to thrive across the First State.

After my visit to ReNove, I hosted a roundtable discussion with small business owners from across different sectors of our economy to hear about the state of our small business community. We heard from a cabinet maker, a baker, the owner of a local cleaning service and even operators of a family-owned soybean farm. As always, I asked each of them the same questions I ask on every customer call. It was great to have an open discussion with such a diverse group of small business owners and learn what more we can be doing to support them.

Beyond creating a nurturing environment for businesses, Delaware has incredible resources for business owners looking to start or grow their business, from Delaware’s chapter of the Small Business Administration, to the Small Business Development Center that operates as part of the University of Delaware’s Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships and the non-profit SCORE, which actually began in Delaware before growing nationwide.

Delaware’s small business community is thriving, but there is always more we can do. No matter how many customer calls I make in the future, I’ll continue to ask business owners and workers how they’re doing, and how we’re doing in our efforts to support them. Making customer calls is one of my favorite things to do because it’s the best way for me to hear directly from our business community. If you own a small business, and I’ve never visited before, I hope you’ll email my office here to try and schedule a visit.