Editor’s Note: Hey, hey! Our team at Blackwood has a podcast called The Big Brand Theory! This episode, our host, Kyle Johnson spoke with Kelli Stopczynski, Director of Marketing at Quality Dining, Inc., about pivoting in business during unexpected times. 


Nobody is ever ready for change. Especially change that hits hard and fast. The pandemic was no exception. Just like Kelli said, there was no time to adapt and for many people, it was devestating. 

For Kelli and Quality Dining, the change throughout the pandemic was an opportunity to learn, grow, and pivot. When things rapidly change, you have two choices. Try new things or fail to adapt. At the end of the day, if your business wants to stay alive, you have to try new things to stay alive.

In this week’s episode, Kelli talks about all of the moving parts involved in pivoting your business. From pioneering uncharted territory to simply saying thank you, Kelli and Quality Dining took the pandemic day by day and came out alive and thriving. 


Unpredictable market change


During the height of the pandemic, things were changing moment to moment. Naturally, many businesses had to adapt moment by moment as well. Kelli emphasized a growth-mindset focusing on how it can be done, it just needs to be figured out. 

“We can do this. We just need to get it figured out.” 

Change is all about problem solving. This doesn’t work? Ok we will try that. Oh, that didn’t work? Ok we will try this. Like Kelli says,

“Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks…because you’ve got to figure it out” 


As new problems and challenges were presenting themselves daily throughout the pandemic, Kelli and her team at Quality Dining worked hard at creating solutions. 

At the start of the pandemic, no one knew what restaurants were open and which were not. Kelli and her team worked diligently on creating digital media kits to give to restaurants to help customers know what was going on and how to support their favorite businesses. In the kit, they had access to various informational signs that included things like “we’re open” and instructions on how to pick up an online order. The team focused on local media because they knew that that is where their audience was. Kelli emphasized 


“Meeting your guests where they were”

Coming out of the pandemic, this idea still very much applies. If you don’t go where your audience is, you simply won’t reach anyone. Today, the guests are moving back to in-person and they’re staying online. The hybrid business approach that wasn’t necessarily required pre-pandemic is now a must for all businesses post-pandemic.

Marketing Ideas
Help others through marketing


As things transition back to the new normal, it is important to keep the amount of support we collectively showed to businesses during the pandemic the same if not more than ever. We learned through the course of the pandemic that our small contribution- from ordering takeout to leaving a positive review online- can make or break a business that is struggling. Just like Kelly says,


“Support the local guy, support the little guy. You gotta support everyone.”


Another important takeaway of the pandemic was to let others know you care by simply saying thank you. During any unpredictable time, it is really important to remind those on your team and those around you that you’re thankful for them.

“Thanks for what you’re doing. You matter. And there is someone out there who cares about you a whole bunch.”

Leadership is key to a successful business


“It’s top down.”

Everything in business starts with strong leadership. You’ve heard it a million times, but it really is top down. During times of uncertainty and struggle, it is important that your leadership team focuses on building your team up versus getting lost in the struggle. Good work comes out of inspired, motivated, and encouraged employees. While great leadership won’t get your employees completely there, it will get them halfway so they can finish it out strong. Affirm your team and work hard to set a good example.

“It helps to hear good job. It helps to hear there are other people out there fighting a lot harder than you.”

In the same way, it is also really important to invest in your team. 

“It’s important to know the people on your team and know who they are and what they need”

Being a great leadership figure is not only setting a good example, practical goals, and managing the workplace, but it is also being there for your employees when they need it. Invest time into your team by getting to know them and their work style. Learn how to support them in any situation and be prepared to encourage them when they need it.


“When you center yourself, you can be strong for others”

When talking about self care, Kelli emphasized three points. First, look to your mentors and don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need. Second, you must know that you will fail but just like Kelli says, you have to say to yourself

“It was painful, but I grew.”

Lastly, learn to give yourself credit where credit is due. Oftentimes it is so easy to push past awknowleging your hard work when there is more work to be done. It is important to take a brief moment, or long one if you feel like it, to awknowledge where you started and how far you’ve come and all the places you will go.

Self Care Mishawaka

If your current marketing strategy just isn’t cutting it anymore, you’ve come to the right place. Our team of experts here at Blackwood Creative would be more than happy to work with you and help you meet and exceed your business goals. We’re in the business of building remarkable brands – yours could be next. Reach out to us today!

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