June 2, 2020 – For many countries, businesses and organizations, the last few months have been about coming to terms with a monumental crisis caused by the coronavirus. “This includes addressing immediate business concerns, ensuring staff and customers receive correct communications and putting necessary safety measures in place,” said Andreas Wartenberg, managing director and chairman of Horton International, in a new report.
“Now, after a period of lockdown, governments are beginning to consider the exit strategy,” he said. “Consequently, businesses should be doing the same and working out how to come out of the other side of this outbreak stronger, more agile and ready to take their team, customers and business forward.”
How can businesses use this time now to prepare for post-lockdown success? Mr. Wartenberg laid out how businesses can create their post-lockdown strategy with the five R’s for success.
In all the commotion of lockdown, it was likely that you had to make quick (and possibly, rash) decisions. “While it was essential to work fast, there may have been aspects that, with hindsight, could have been handled differently,” Mr. Wartenberg said. “Now is a great time to pause for reflection on your actions and work out what went well and shows your business strengths, and where there are areas of improvement.”
It might also be useful to instruct a focus group, or send out a survey for this reflection so that you can assess the opinions and ideas of people from all areas of your business – “from shop floor to high management,” he said.
“There may be immediate challenges that your business needs to face before you begin working on business improvement activities,” said Mr. Wartenberg. “It is crucial to touch base with your employees, suppliers, contractors and customers and determine if there are any immediate issues that you need to address.”
Prioritizing Your Post-Pandemic Attack Plan
In this brand new episode of ‘Talent Talks,’ Hunt Scanlon Media host Rob Adams is joined by Andreas Wartenberg, managing partner and chairman of the board for Horton International. In this exclusive podcast, Mr. Wartenberg examines the best post-pandemic exit strategies to achieve optimal success. He also reflects on why this month might be the key time to plan your post lockdown strategy. Listen Now!
Unfortunately, the outbreak and economic downturn may mean many companies have had to let staff go, and there may be areas of your business and responsibilities that now need assigning to other members of your team. “Similarly, your suppliers may have struggled or possibly collapsed with the economic downturn,” said Mr. Wartenberg. “It is vital to thoroughly review your supply-chain network and ensure everything can run as it should when you’re back to operating at full capacity.”
“While focusing on resolutions, prioritize the key aspects of making sure your business will be ready to get back to work immediately when it is safe to do so,” he said. “Prepare your back-up plan (such as alternative suppliers, temporary workers and hiring strategies) so that there will be no hitches to get in your way.”
Communication is essential during this time. “With so many people in isolation, humans are craving interaction,” Mr. Wartenberg said. “Your business has this prime opportunity to reach out to your customers and strengthen relationships in a way you haven’t been able to do before.”
Depending on your business and approach, there are lots of ways to drive communication and engagement with your brand, he said. “From hosting free webinars, to developing Q&A sessions with influential people in your industry to simply sharing business news. There are lots of ways that you can help your customers to connect with the brand on a deeper level.”
More people are online and using social media than ever before. For example, Facebook usage is up 50 percent. “So, make sure you’re where your customers are, so you can expand your reach and grow your audience and sales funnel,” said Mr. Wartenberg. “Giveaways and competitions cost very little but can have a significant impact on engagement. Be creative and inventive to use this time to grow your followers.”
Many businesses have switched their services during lockdown to being one of help and support for those in need. Mr. Wartenberg said that from “donating to charity, to free tools and resources, such as free trials of software and developing products to help key workers . . . while these may not be revenue-generating activities, they are increasing brand awareness and improving brand perception, which can pay off hugely in the future.” Remember, how you interact with consumers now may shape how they feel about your business in the future.
One silver lining of the pandemic, Mr. Wartenberg said, is that it has led many businesses to diversify their offering to create sustainable revenue streams. For example, businesses in the FMCG sector are seeing their trade soar. While doing well in supermarkets, many FMCG businesses have diversified due to consumer demand to sell directly through E-commerce channels.
“For FMCG businesses, the demand is instant, and the response time needs to be fast,” he said. “This is why many firms have adapted their supply chain and business strategy to focus on being closer to the customer.”
Many other businesses are finding new revenue streams through online offerings. Training providers, for example, are moving their courses to virtual classes and e-learning; gyms are offering online classes using video platforms; and social media platforms, coaches and consultants are working virtually.
“With the lockdown exposing customer demands, businesses that can adapt to these new, innovative revenue streams will be agile and in a better place than companies that have downed tools completely,” Mr. Wartenberg said.
Reimagine and Redefine
This outbreak has been a huge wake-up call for businesses that may not have responded in the best way possible. “Now is the time that organizations can ensure they get back on the right trajectory by redefining the business and perhaps incorporating aspects that have been neglected, such as online offerings,” Mr. Wartenberg said.
While we all hope that the coronavirus outbreak soon passes, it is expected that the pandemic has redefined a new normal, at least for the foreseeable future. “Businesses must make sure their objectives and plans align with this new normal,” said Mr. Wartenberg. “Aspects to consider include virtual services, safer business practices and a more personalized and sociable service – such as fulfilling the requirement of interaction which has been an apparent consumer demand during the lockdown.”
One key takeaway has been the critical importance of being agile, flexible and fast thinking, Mr. Wartenberg said. “If this hasn’t been the case for your business, how can you reimagine your business processes so that you’re ready for any shift or hurdle that may come your way?”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media