The pandemic made it difficult, or even impossible, to deliver on your promise to your customer. Whether your promise is quality, consistency, the type of service or product you deliver, or how you deliver it, chances are you were forced to break your promise.
And that’s okay. But no-one needs to tell you that it’s not a sustainable way to do business.
If your business model is not working for you or your customers anymore, it may be time to pivot and find new ways to do business. This can be a short term shift just to get through the worst, or you may find a new model that would suit you better in the long run.
We’ve decided to look at some examples of how other businesses handled the changes and came up with a few ideas that may help you if your business is in need of a pivot.
Example 1: Going Online
If you provide in-person lessons, you can turn your lessons into online classes. Similarly, if you provide services, you can turn your skills into online courses to teach others how to perform those services themselves.
Think creative arts, like music, painting, pottery making, dancing, but also other types of services, like dog grooming, language teaching, and how to colour your own hair. The opportunities are endless.
One of our clients operating a gym launched an online website within a week and started running their normal classes online. They also have a library of training sessions available to their members.
The face-to-face aspect of these types of service are often very personal and the very reason why people pay for them. But online classes don’t need to be impersonal. For instance, if you provide online tutoring, you can still do your classes one-on-one for a personal touch, you can chat before or after the lesson as you’d normally do, and the feedback you give can still be catered specifically to that person.
If presenting classes online is new to you, it may be difficult to adapt and to get your head around the technology, but it will pay off. It doesn’t need to be complicated either – video calls made with WhatsApp works perfectly – and videos you record don’t need to be Hollywood-quality. It is the content that matters. If your lesson plans are top-notch and students get results, that is what will make you successful, not how well you package the course.
Going online is a huge opportunity for those who are willing to take the plunge because many of your competitors won’t. And as an added bonus, you can reach more people – across the globe.
Example 2: Going Postal
It’s no secret that shops with an online ordering system, especially supermarkets, did well during the lockdown period. But what about other products and services?
For instance, a service like clothing alterations usually happens in-person. But what if you can still alter people’s clothes without meeting them in person?
Picture this: You get onto a WhatsApp call with your client where you guide them through taking their own measurements. They can also wear the clothing item and record a little video showing you where the problem areas are. They then courier the clothing item to you. You work your magic, altering the item, and then post it back to them. Yes, it would take longer and cost a little more, but it’s very convenient.
Another example is picture framing. You can have your consulting meeting with your clients over Zoom, they can choose a frame from your online catalogue, and send the item in through the post. After you framed the picture or painting, you can send it back again. If the client has photos they want to frame, they can even send the digital file to you which you can then print.
Other businesses that had great success using the postal service are Dollar Shave Club and Stitch Fix. For a monthly subscription, the Dollar Shave Club sends, you guessed it, razors to their subscribers. Stitch Fix puts together a box of clothes they think you’d like based on your style preferences; you keep what you like, and send the rest back.
The selling points of these companies are price and convenience. Another selling point you can add now, is necessity.
A recent example of a similar business that was in the news is that of a Wellington-based couple who usually keep vending machines stocked with candy. Because they couldn’t get to their vending machines and the stock they had at home was nearing expiry date, they started to sell and deliver boxes of candy during lockdown. Many people used this service to send care packages to loved ones or medical personnel working in hospitals during lockdown.
Can you turn your products into care packages? For instance, imagine if you could send care packages to your loved ones filled with Marino scarfs or beanies to keep them warm for the winter?
Example 3: Exploring Different Markets and Uses
Another way, which needs a bit more thinking out of the box, is targeting different markets or looking at different ways to make money from your products or equipment.
For instance, if you own trucks that are used as pop-up shops at events, music festivals, or fairs, you can rent out your trucks to use as pop-up COVID-19 testing clinics.
If you’re a hotel owner, and you’re concerned about when international travel would pick up again, you may want to consider turning some, or all, of your units into rental apartments. (Note that the change-of-use rules for GST may apply.) With the housing shortage in Wellington, this may be a more secure way of making money at the moment.
Other examples we’ve seen are gyms renting out their equipment, like treadmills, to their clients during the lockdown period. Many clothing designers started making face masks and cosmetics manufacturers turned their focus on making hand sanitisers.
Most of these ideas are more of a short term solution to help through the crisis, and many would go back to their core focus once things are back to ‘normal’.
Example 4: Developing New Products
For some businesses, what you’ve done before may never be in demand again. Or there may be a gap that opened up which was never serviced before.
One of our clients in the supermarket industry found that people were buying more chicken nuggets and oven fries than before. This was most likely to satisfy their craving for takeout, but also people who aren’t that comfortable with cooking. Meal kit companies, like Hello Fresh, have become very popular over the past few years. While these companies focus mostly on healthier food, people still want to eat junk food from time to time. So a focus on creating pizza kits, for instance, where you provide the raw dough for the base plus the fresh ingredients and instructions of how to bake it may be popular.
On the Edx online learning platform, a host of new courses were introduced related to COVID-19, most of them in the medical science fields. But one that caught our attention was a course by The University of British Columbia called “Re-imagine work: Strategies during COVID-19 and beyond. This course teaches students how to adapt to working from home and how to set up your office or shop to meet social distancing requirements.
Are You Considering a Pivot?
Whether you are forced to pivot in your business due to changes in the market, or you’re seeing new opportunities that you want to pursue, pivoting can be a scary but exciting venture. It’s also important to plan ahead while still being flexible.
Get in touch with BWMD to help you to create a business plan and the necessary forecasts from the start so that you can be prepared for what’s to come. We can also help you on an ongoing basis to review your performance and adjust your plan as needed.