Altering Operations & Reaching New Customers

During the pandemic we have seen many global businesses diversify their operations to help provide much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or other equipment in the fight against Covid-19. For example:
  • JCB and Dyson kept their production lines running and assisted in the manufacture of ventilators
  • Luxury fashion brand Burberry turned to the manufacture of masks and gowns

A large number of smaller businesses have also cleverly diversified to provide protective items, with several gin distilleries turning to the production of hand sanitiser when it was in short supply, and even a Cheltenham-based video production company, PinPointMedia, swiftly turning to the importation of PPE and shipping more than two million items from China to the UK in just seven days via their newly created ‘EasyBreathing’ brand (read more here).

Other types of businesses have managed to alter their operations to help keep running whilst still complying with Government guidelines. For example, pubs and restaurants offered takeaway services, whilst companies with fleets of vehicles which would have normally delivered non-essential products turned to delivering food and other essential supplies in their local communities.

 

Client Case Studies

THE BEAUTY ACADEMY

The Beauty Academy was looking at a bleak few months ahead when it closed its 10 training centres on March 23rd and cancelled all future classroom courses. The rents and rates would still need to be paid, as would the wages for Head Office staff continuing to work and support existing students at various stages of their level 2 and level 3 qualifications.

To help mitigate the loss of business income, the directors decided to immediately focus their marketing on their existing online courses and also to develop a portfolio of virtual courses to sit halfway between classroom and online courses.

The virtual courses were wrapped up within what they called the ‘Virtual Academy’. Within two weeks, a collection of courses had been produced and launched, allowing students to study at home and watch their tutor carry out treatments and answer questions online via Zoom, on their phone, tablet or PC.

Course content was the same as the classroom courses, with a future planned online live assessment with one of the tutors to check each student’s progress. Arranging ‘live’ assessments meant that the courses would be accredited with ABT (Associated Beauty Therapists) and that the students could therefore be insured and start offering treatments and earning money as soon as social distancing is fully eased.

The combination of increasing the existing online course budget and the introduction of a Virtual Academy will be keeping The Beauty Academy nicely in the black until their classroom courses recommence.

SAFETELL

Safetell Ltd has been protecting staff at counters and desks for 30 years, providing products that prevent harm and supplying acrylic screens to banks, police stations, local councils and hospitals.

To meet the Covid-19 infection spread challenge now faced by employees at reception counters and office environments, they have evolved their products to provide a barrier at the interface of upper body contact, providing high quality screens that can remain in situ for as long as required.

Paul Lovell, MD at Safetell said: “It is pleasing that we can, as a natural progression, provide additional protection against Covid-19 to staff working in office and reception environments. Providing hygiene and desk shields protects people, and that’s what Safetell does.”

For more information on Safetell’s range of protective shields and screens, please visit their website, or call 01322 223 233 and quote ‘Aston Lark’.

FLEET LUXURY PACKAGING

Fleet Luxury has specialised in providing bespoke packaging solutions since 2004. Initially very quiet when lockdown was imposed, some of their hospitality clients began looking at ways to diversify their business and asked Fleet for help with creating quality packaging for their new take-away offerings. Then, with the announcement that restrictions were set to ease in June, other clients began to consider how they would create a safe trading environment for staff and customers, and many turned to Fleet for advice.

They suddenly found clients were asking for help with entirely new products – hand sanitiser, face masks, perspex screens, thermometers – all vital for safe trading going forward, but items most businesses have never needed to source before.

Through their existing supply chain network, Fleet were able to establish a guaranteed long-term supply of a wide range of protective equipment which could be stored in their warehouse facility and distributed via their fulfilment framework, both as a standalone offering and with their packaging orders. Their aim was not to make a profit, in fact they barely cover their costs on many of these products, but by looking after retailers’ needs now, they hope to be doing their bit to help secure the long-term future of the high street.

To view Fleet’s PPE offers visit www.fleetluxury.com/ppe


Online promotions

Many retailers have moved further into the online retail space due to the closing of bricks & mortar shops, and businesses have successfully used a variety of methods to increase sales including offering discount codes themed around the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Could your business promote goods that help customers ‘StayHomeStaySafe’?
  • Could you differentiate your business by perhaps offering free shipping for a limited period due to the restrictions on retail stores?
  • Could your business create new products that will help customers during the pandemic? With people stuck indoors, what products could you bundle together to help with quarantine?
Charity & local groups

We have seen many businesses supporting a particular cause which not only demonstrates their company’s social responsibility, but often complements their products or ethos. Many companies have added their support to the NHS cause and are offering goods and products at reduced prices or free of charge to NHS workers.

In addition to this, businesses have increasingly been supporting local action groups. This is a great way of not only supporting worthwhile community issues but raising a business’ profile with existing and potential future customers.

Road to recovery

Whilst the Government has started to relax restrictions on businesses and the public, the timeline for a full recovery is likely to be longer than many expect. It is essential that companies are constantly considering:

  • How can we alter our processes and services so we can operate but comply with guidelines?
  • How can we drive sales by keeping our existing customers but also potentially attracting a new customer base?

As an example, watch a video here about a restaurant in Amsterdam which has come up with an innovative way of allowing customers to dine out whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Whilst it will not be possible for all businesses to change the way they operate, those that are forward-thinking, flexible and innovative stand the best chance of making a full recovery and possibly emerging stronger than before.