March 23rd (when the lockdown officially started) seems a very long time ago. So much seems to have happened since then and I feel there’s absolutely no need to recap it all here. I’m sure we are all too aware of the impact of covid-19, both personally and professionally.
We have reached out to help those clients who have been struggling, and reacted quickly and continued to support those clients that have been unaffected or are even thriving during the pandemic.
We have purposely not sent out our monthly newsletter for the last three months (the first time this has happened in five years!) as we know all of our clients and fellow business owners will simply be trying to work through the situation as best they can to protect their business, jobs, and most importantly, their people.
I know I have had the blinkers on a bit, and unless it’s from a current client, prospective client, supplier or colleague then most of my email has been diverted straight to trash or marked as ‘read later’.
Naturally, with so many businesses being forced to close for so long and lots of our clients unable to actually conduct their business, there was little point in them spending money with us to market their services. So, naturally, we were a little worried.
We put several staff members on furlough but were pleased to welcome them back sooner than we thought thanks to a number of new client wins, and existing clients giving us the go-ahead on some sizeable web projects as they used the lockdown to make improvements to their website and some of their business processes.
Sadly we have stopped working with a couple of long-standing clients (some, hopefully not forever), as they do what they need to do to make it through the pandemic.
However, not all of them were lost because of Covid-19. One client who we have worked with from startup four years ago has merged with a larger international business and has naturally brought their marketing in-house.
Whilst it means lost revenue for us, I’m looking at it as one of our massive success stories. The fact that we contributed in some way to turning a startup into a highly profitable business will make a terrific case study. More on this client in the coming weeks.
As I mentioned above, we have gained some new clients too.
We welcomed on-board Opus 4, a £10m turnover business specialising in office fit-out and design based in Stalybridge, referred to us by an existing client.
Some of our existing clients have been successfully ‘pivoting’ as is/was the popular term and some have been actively involved in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
JB Springs, a 125-year-old spring maker, has been producing 3D printed face shields for local frontline staff, as well as manufacturing springs for ventilators too.
Westminster Wire turned their metal display stand manufacturing capability to the design and manufacture of an innovative foot-operated hand sanitiser.
Barkston Plastics have been inundated with requests for their plastic screens for retail and other customer-facing businesses.
Closer to home our own Woosage application (Sage 50 and WooCommerce integration software) has erupted in a huge way. Dozens of business across the UK and overseas (as far as Australia and South Africa) have reached out to us to trial the product and almost every one of them has signed up to the full product license.
This seems to have come about by more businesses moving online during the pandemic, the need for automation, and to reduce overheads as well as manual and labour intensive tasks.
In other good news, Mollie has joined us on a permanent basis after completing her university studies. Sadly she will have to wait a whole year to receive her cap and gown at her graduation ceremony due to the pandemic.
Over the last few weeks we have been gradually bringing the team back into the office. As it is a family business some of us have had some contact (socially distanced of course) during lockdown but the health and well-being of our staff is of the utmost importance to us.
We have installed glass screens from Huddersfield-based Specialist Glass and have plenty of sanitiser, face masks and protective gloves for all staff and have social distancing measures in place.
Personally, I have ridden the ‘Covidcoaster’ daily. My thoughts and emotions about its impact on the economy, our industry, and our business, in general, have been all over the place. The fact that things can change so dramatically on a weekly and sometimes daily basis can be unnerving.
Lots of so-called ‘experts’ are predicting how this will affect the economy and specific industries both short term and long term, but the truth is nobody really knows what will happen and the implications for each industry will be wide-ranging.
As a business ourselves, and with the services we offer to our clients, all we can do is ensure we are aware of the current situation, are as prepared as possible, and can adapt quickly.
That would be my advice to other businesses, too.