Wow, we’re in very, very interesting times! Uncertainty, disruption and a sense of panic definitely abounds, and it’s very interesting to see how different businesses are reacting to the situation created by the Corona Virus outbreak. In any ‘sudden change’, there are both opportunities and threats. How businesses react to those opportunities and threats often says a lot about them.
It reminds me of many (many) years ago back in 1984, when we had a national coal miners strike. The local town of the pit that I had worked at suffered massively as hundreds of local miners and their families were without money for a long, long time. At that time, on Dinnington high street there were 2 businesses that rented TV’s and video recorders (youngsters, you might need to look ‘video recorders’ up!) and people signed up for a contract for a couple of years paying a weekly / monthly amount to hire them.
Despite the fact there was no money in the town (and the money that was there, went on ‘crucial things like food!) one of the shops said that everyone had to continue paying or they’d lose their kit. The other let it be known that because of the difficult circumstances that they knew their customers were in, they would ‘suspend’ payments until after the strike was over.
The strike lasted a year, and the when people did eventually get back to work, guess what happened within 6 months? The shop who’d made people pay went bust and the one that had looked after it’s customers kept going for years and years. There was a lot of animosity to the former and people didn’t forget their attitude and policies – as soon as they had chance, they switched!
Whether it was nearly 40 years ago, or today, our experience suggest that 3D Businesses take a long term view and look to build and reinforce customer relationships over time, not just for ‘quick wins’.
It’s interesting to observe the approach that different businesses are taking. As ever, there are clear examples of ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ when it comes to their approach.
Let’s start with…
Matt and Noah Calvin from Tennessee took a 1,300 mile trip , cleared the shelves of lots of small retailers and bought up lots of bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes with the intention of selling them for massive margins.
His brother started to list them on Amazon and sold all the first lot for between $8 and $70 each, multiples higher than what he had bought them for. Once they discovered what was going on, Amazon shut them (and others doing the same) down and left them with 17,000 bottles they couldn’t sell!
Some might say they were being ‘entrepreneurial’, others might say they were profiteering from people in a vulnerable situation. I’m with the latter and I can’t help thinking that there are far too many businesses who are taking advantage of the situation, which in the short term, might look ‘profitable’, but long term could prove dangerous (for them).
Can’t help think that a number for businesses are ‘jumping on the band wagon’ and using it as an excuse to promote their business. Click on the image below to see a lovely ‘dig’ at those who are doing that from designer Dan Kelsall…
So, enough of the ‘Bad’ and the ‘Ugly’ – there are lots of ‘positives’ out there so let’s have a look at some of the ‘Good’ things that some businesses are doing……
We got a wonderful email at the weekend from Ryan Daniels, the MD at Hydra Creative, a web development business here in Sheffield who are friends of ours and who we have worked with (and are working with on our new website – watch this space!) just asking us how we were getting on….
Just wanted to check that you’re both OK and keeping going in the current circumstances!?!
Guessing its pretty hard with the sort of work you guys do with cancellations etc., so just wanted to say if there is anything we can help with, please let me know (could be live streaming talks via social media maybe as a thought??)
This isn’t touting for work too as you’ve both helped us loads over the years and times like this aren’t going to be easy for anyone, so if you think of anything we can do just let me know.
It was lovely to get such a lovely note from someone who cares and took the time out to show it.
What could you do to show your customers you are ‘on their side’?
How a business reacts and look after their customers says a lot about them to their customers. One friend of ours, Nigel Short at Voot Telecom went completely out of his way to help us out with our broadband at home which was causing us problems. Although he is extremely busy helping his clients get ‘wired up’ to help their people work form home, he dropped everything and completely went out of his way to sort things out for us ‘first thing’ on a Saturday morning! The result? A very happy customer who is happy to tell everyone else!
What could you do to ‘delight’ your customers?
By ‘Keeping In Touch’:
Marty Wilson, a speaker down in Australia took the opportunity to show his customers how much he cares about them by sending them some toilet roles with personalised messages on! He said the response from his customers was sensational.
What could you do to show your customers you care?
By Caring For Their Suppliers!:
Morrisons announced on Friday that they would pay the small businesses that supply them immediately to help them weather any difficulties they face through the disruptions created by Corona Virus. Chief executive David Potts said “We’re aiming to help them through the next weeks and months, We want to help local producers, farmers, and fishermen during an uncertain time.”
Normally, their smallest suppliers, with an annual turnover of £100,000 or less are paid in 14 days, and for businesses with a turnover between £100,000 and £1 million, they are paid between 30 to 60 days. All those businesses will now be paid immediately!
It’s a great gesture and will surely help build relationships with those suppliers, and help build them as businesses. I was also amazed how many people ‘tweeted’ saying that they were so impressed with the approach and that they would be swapping their allegiance as customers to Morrisons.
What could you do to help or support your suppliers and show them you care in these tricky times?
They say that ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ and there are lots of businesses having to rethink what they do and how they do it. A good friend of ours, Liz Harrison runs a business called Sing And Sign and she and her team help babies communicate before they can speak. The classes are normally done on a ‘face to face’ basis, but because of the current circumstances, this makes it impossible for her to do business in the ‘traditional’ way. So Liz has now created an ‘online offer’ that allows her to continue to provide her service to her clients.
Here’s how she announced it…
Apparently Pope Francis has ‘reworked’ his approach too and has gone to video to send out his weekly message and host mass, so if it’s good enough for His Holiness and for Liz, we’re going to be looking at this soon, so please ‘watch this space’ for Andy Hanselman Consulting online seminars and webinars coming soon!
What could you do to innovate and reshape your ‘offer’?
Some other things for you to consider in these tricky times…
Take Some Time Out To ‘Think Strategically’
Obviously, I recognise that many people have to focus on the ‘here and now’ and need to find ways of generating income, paying bills and looking after others, but if you can, try and create some time to look at the ‘big picture’ and importantly, look forward. Think about the opportunities and threats that you face, look and see how other businesses are dealing with things, identify what you can learn from them and create and develop a plan to make it happen.
Take The Opportunity To ‘Learn And Develop’
Many of us are going to have ‘time on our hands’ and if you can, maybe this is a good chance to do a bit of learning and development. Why not create to some time to ‘fish in different ponds’ and develop your skills, your knowledge and your expertise. Go on, explore TEDx, check out Linked In Learning, delve into Udemy, read a book, (listen to a book!), listen to podcasts, watch YouTube (it’s not just kittens and skateboarding!). We have a webpage that we share with people on our leadership programmes with some recommended ‘ponds’ to fish in, and here it is. Have a look and take a ‘dip’.
There are lots of small businesses who are struggling (or will be soon!), so please do all you can to help and support your local small businesses. If you can’t go in to a local restaurant, why not order a takeaway? Can you buy your groceries ‘local’? Find any ways you can to help and support your local businesses with advice, resources and time!
Keep In Touch!
Please do Keep In Touch with your customers, your contacts, your suppliers (and your people!) – both online and offline – Don’t write off the ‘old fashioned ways’ of phone calls and notes (handwritten ones, not emails!). Think Long Term about your relationships – remember, it won’t always be like this!
Ask For Help!
Yes, please do all you can to help and support others, but please do not be afraid to ask for help yourself. There are lots of people out there who can support you including us ([email protected])! Get in touch. If we can’t help, there’s a very good chance we’ll know someone who can (unless you’re looking to rent a video!)
Whatever your business and whatever your circumstances, please keep safe, keep healthy and keep ‘Thinking in 3D‘!