In the face of COVID-19, businesses everywhere have had to change the way they operate. For the hospitality industry, this meant rolling out takeaway services and pick-ups while retail stores turned their attention online in lieu of their brick and mortar shops.
It’s been a tough few months for businesses, and there may be tougher times still to come. Even with financial help from the government, it didn’t take long for a ‘sink or swim’ mentality to set in. What we have seen, however, is that some businesses are better swimmers than others.
Here are the business growth lessons that we can learn from businesses that are surviving (dare we say, thriving) in the coronavirus crisis. Because, it can be done.
What can we learn about business growth during the COVID-19 crisis?
Take note of the following steps so that your business may come out of COVID-19 healthy and looking to the future. These tips apply to all businesses no matter the industry you are in.
1. Cater to demand, even if it means prioritising some services over others
In lockdown, we’ve craved all manner of things that reflect normality. From home improvement and DIY products to exercise gear, there are things that have made lockdown bearable as the sales figures demonstrate. To cater to new demands, countless businesses have pivoted quickly to react. Some have changed tack slightly, while others have changed their service and messaging altogether.
For example, major retailer John Lewis revealed that sales of gym equipment have increased by 496% which prompted stronger messaging and marketing of such products. Remember that there will be elements of your service that will be more popular in lockdown, so be sure to focus your efforts and attention on those areas.
2. Keep abreast of government announcements and regulations
Government furlough payments have been a lifeline for businesses across the country, but there are potentially more that are not as well-documented. It’s important that businesses keep up to date with government advice and are clued into any industry-specific financial help they could receive. As a business owner, you need to be on top of any options available.
3. Focus your energy online
If, like many others, the physical nature of your business has been negatively impacted then you need to be able to speak to customers online. Whether your business has never really bothered with digital marketing or you have systems in place to help you reach customers, now is the time to capture new business online.
The health and fitness industry is a prime example. With gyms closed and personal training appointments cancelled, fitness professionals have had to act fast and take their business online. Krissy Cela, for example, is a fitness entrepreneur who has enjoyed new levels of success with the training and workout app she launched in 2019.
According to Cela, “people were very sceptical at first because the traditional way is to go to the gym and hire a trainer,” she says. “However, that can be very expensive.”. The decision to create a workout app seems a little like predicting the future: “we’ve seen growth of 88% in downloads during April compared with last year,” Cela says. “Turnover has literally tripled in the last year.”
4. Save your customers money to boost your bottom line
For the majority of March, April and May it seemed like every online retailer had some kind of sale or promotion running. With subdued demand and the risk of surplus stock, sales drives have been a major avenue of support for retailers in the lockdown period and if you can pass a little discount down to your customers then it’s a win-win for everyone.
Products and services that have thrived in lockdown
Now that you have a few business growth strategies at your disposal, let’s take a look at some areas of business retail that have been in high demand during coronavirus. If you sell these products, take note.
Are you an electrical goods manufacturer?
In just three weeks, electrical goods market leader Dixons Carphone recorded a 35% increase in sales of electrical items. From printers and mini fridges to laptops and gaming consoles, electrical goods have proven to be a valuable source of both entertainment and work. If this is your business’ area of expertise then you’ll want to maximise this potential.
Do you specialise in books and related reading materials?
To help while away the time in lockdown and without relying too much on television and devices, there have been record sales of books and literature. In fact, fiction sales in the UK rose to the third highest level on record and children’s education titles climbed 234% – all in the final week of March (around the time lockdown began).
How about DIY and home improvement products?
The more time people spent at home, the more they wanted to improve their home. That’s why retailer B&M recorded a 22.7% surge in sales of DIY, gardening and home improvement items over an 8-week period. Likewise, the B&Q website went down for several days after a flood of DIY-hungry visitors flooded the website. The demand is there and although we’re edging out of lockdown at the moment, these products are still high on many people’s priorities.
Does your business provide traditional indoor/outdoor games?
From board games and jigsaw puzzles to outdoor items like trampolines, people in their droves have turned to indoor and outdoor games as a way of spending quality time with loved ones in lockdown. While video games have been popular, so too have games of the traditional variety. In fact, sales of board games and jigsaw puzzles saw an astronomical sales increase of 240% in just the first official week of lockdown.
Are you lucky enough to provide gym and exercise equipment?
The area of retail that has sold the most, and been by far the most popular in lockdown, has been gym and exercise gear. While the gyms are closed, millions of people in the UK took to retailers to purchase bicycles, dumbbells, and home workout equipment. For most of us, our daily commute is now out of the question and the demonstrable solution has been the bicycle market. The whole market has seen healthy surges in sales, with one retailer even recording a 192% rise in sales since lockdown started.
You can still grow your business during and after COVID-19
By using the above business growth strategies and doubling down on your promotion efforts if you provide some of coronavirus’s winning products, you can continue with your business growth as normal. What’s important is that your approach is responsive to COVID-19, the economy, and whichever industry you are in.
For an extra helping hand, our team of business growth accountants can assist you with all manner of processes from tax planning all the way through to accountancy. To speak with a member of our team, call 0161 832 4841 or alternatively get in touch with us here.