The COVID-19 crisis has radically transformed today’s business landscape. On the positive side, many business owners have stepped up to support fellow business owners, budding entrepreneurs, and their local communities. A crisis like this often reveals true character.
But on the negative side, the crisis has caused a massive disruption in how most companies operate. However, while some have frozen in fear waiting for things to go back to normal, others have taken action to transform how they operate.
This kind of pivot is essential in the current economic environment we’re facing, so I wanted to highlight a few companies who have done it well so they can serve as an inspiration and spark ideas for other business owners in their own pivot.
Bobby Leesman’s business was based primarily on visiting employers at their location to handle the open enrollment process for their employees. Their service resonated with employers, employees, and insurance brokers alike, because most employees don’t really understand their options, and most brokers don’t have the time or manpower to sit down with each employee individually.
But the traditional approach to open enrollment was flipped upside down when most people started working remotely. “Right now, you simply can’t get a bunch of people in a room. You can’t even visit them one on one because of the social distancing requirements.” says founder, Bobby Leesman.
Fortunately, Enrollment Alliance had already been serving many of their clients remotely anyway, so they simply pivoted from face-to-face to virtual enrollment. Now instead of bringing their team to a client’s office or job site, they simply hop on a phone or video call with each employee.
Leesman says, “It’s just a simple transition. We still provide the same personalized service where we learn about each employee and help them select the ideal benefits options based on their circumstances, but we’re doing it remotely, instead of in-person now.”
Board of Advisors
For businesses built on live events, the COVID-19 quarantine seemed like an extinction-level event. And for many, it has been. But not for the exclusive mastermind and networking group, Board of Advisors.
The organization holds events each quarter where around one hundred and twenty of the top business leaders from around the world get together to strategize, network, and share their knowledge. But with the world in quarantine, that was no longer an option.
Fortunately, several weeks before this pandemic led to a lockdown, Board of Advisors founder, Mike Calhoun , rallied the team to begin preparing for what he anticipated was coming. They immediately organized a daily webinar series where members could connect, learn, and engage without traveling.
“Our members are like a family and stay in touch regularly in between meetings, but once we implemented this digital version of our business, they became even more connected and engaged,” Calhoun says. Rather than meeting a few times each year and staying in touch on their own the rest of the year, members now have a simple platform to connect on a daily basis, creating stronger relationships and more opportunities.
Calhoon explains, “We took action that aligned with the core principles of our organization, and that resonated with our members. Many have commented that they’re getting more value from the group than ever, and we have a growing number of new people wanting to join.”
It’s hard to imagine making an organization composed of some of the most successful people in their industries, where members can openly share and receive advice on what really works in business, becoming even more valuable to its members. But by taking a proactive and creative approach, Board of Advisors has accomplished exactly that.
Business was booming for the math tutoring company, Mathnasium, where parents take their kids for customized supplemental math instruction in a face to face environment.
But once schools shut down and kids were quarantined at home, things soon became very uncertain for the company. Mathnasium pivoted quickly to get all of their students’ materials organized and digitized in their online platform, and simultaneously trained all of their staff to run their tutoring remotely through this platform.
Amanda Burdi, Center Directo for Mathnasium of Huntersville, shares how their adaptation has helped students maintain their educational progress throughout the quarantine. “We are now all working from home, but giving kids a sense of normalcy because they can still do their same sessions two or three times per week.”
Their pivot from in-person to virtual instruction enabled them not only to continue serving their customers and educating kids, but also to retain their employees.
USA Mobile Drug Testing
Because most businesses had transitioned to a remote workforce and faced financial uncertainty, many had placed their workplace drug testing on hold. But during a crisis, true leaders step up to adapt, and that’s exactly what USA Mobile Drug Testing’s CEO, David Bell did.
His company provides workplace drug testing for a wide range of employers, from small mom and pop type businesses, all the way up to massive organizations like Amazon, FedEx, and various entities within the federal government. But because of the quarantine, a large portion of that business disappeared overnight.
Rather than waiting for business to return to normal, he found a different way to address his customers’ needs. Knowing that many business owners still had employees in the field interacting with each other and customers, and that they wanted to keep them all safe, Bell tracked down a supplier for COVID-19 instant testing kits.
Bell explains, “Because of the Emergency Use Authorization, we had the ability to acquire and use tests that, while completely valid, are not yet used by medical facilities. These are typically tests that are in the process of receiving FDA approval for general use.” He immediately ordered a shipment of these test kits to help businesses that wanted to screen their workforce to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
“It was an obvious extension of our normal business model. We already have a large workforce of medically-trained collectors who conduct on-site drug testing, so transitioning to a different type of test was simple. Plus, it helps to slow the spread of COVID-19, protecting countless lives, so it benefits everyone.” says Bell.
It’s no secret that the restaurant industry has been decimated during this quarantine. Many restaurants have adapted by offering curbside and delivery service, but that only helped them to recoup a fraction of their normal business.
Na’ama Moran, co-founder and CEO of the restaurant supply company, Cheetah, took a unique approach to deal with her industry’s changing business landscape due to COVID-19. Moran switched from serving as a restaurant wholesale supplier into a grocery delivery service. She says, “We decided that in order to support our community right now, we’re opening up our wholesale supplies platform to consumers.”
If you’ve been to a grocery store lately, or you’ve tried to order online, you already know what a nightmare that is right now. It’s tough to find what you need, and you have to expose yourself to other people who may be carrying the virus even if they aren’t showing any symptoms.
Moran leveraged Cheetah’s infrastructure, staff, inventory, and technology to provide a streamlined way for people to purchase food and cleaning supplies without any contact with other people. This unique pivot enabled the company to continue moving their inventory while supporting their local community.