Surviving A Pandemic – A Sea Change for Business?
Listed Under: Blogs
Cast your mind back to the beginning of the year, before the monster of Covid19 reared its ugly head and the world as we know it, changed overnight. As we took delivery of new stocks, booked our space at country shows and prepared for the new season armed with a solid plan and a workable strategy, who could have imagined the chaos just round the corner?
Three months on, lockdown is the new norm and companies like ours have been forced to re-invent perfectly good business models against a backdrop of uncertainty, new health and safety measures and – frankly - consumer fear and panic.
Like many others we’ve effectively been catapulted into a ‘think on your feet’ process of diversification, adaptation and investment. We’ve no choice but to meet and conquer the challenges of this tiresome pandemic so that we survive, and emerge relatively unscathed on the other side.
It’s not all doom and gloom.
Over the last few weeks, the Truckle Cheese Company has shifted the focus to online sales, offering its full product range for next-day, contactless delivery. The business has seen an unprecedented demand as customers migrate to the online shop and increase the size and frequency of their orders.
We’ve really upped our game in terms of marketing too, and it seems to be working. Regular mail shots to keep in touch with valued customers and welcome new ones, enhanced organic and paid-for social media activity across the board, and participation in virtual events like the Country Living Artisan Pop-Up Market are just some of our initiatives.
A 20% discount scheme for frontline health staff working hard to keep us safe has seen a healthy take-up and we’ve donated £6500 worth of cheese nationwide to frontline NHS and key workers, to include teachers, the police, the fire brigade, local councils, carers, food banks and homeless appeals.
Did we tell our story? You bet we did. We shouted it from the rooftops, which meant we had a good share of the headlines, raised our profile in the community and brought in new customers and friends too.
Of course, no matter who and where our team is delivering to, safety is paramount, from those in the supply chain, through to staff and customers. Even though we aren’t doctors or scientists, we can all do the right thing. Social distancing, enhanced food hygiene and overall safety are our highest priorities.
We’ve joined forces with our supply chain to put extra measures in place to keep everyone safe and Coronavirus free. In spite of their own challenges, and working with minimum staff, they have been a great support , ensuring a continuity of supply and we thank them for their loyalty and flexibility.
What does the future hold for Truckle Cheese?
80% of our business is done through large scale shows, events and festivals, which are unlikely to return until Autumn at the earliest, and possibly not even this year. By September, we’re not sure how confident people will be about heading out to buy face-to-face again, amidst fears of a second wave, so attendances will almost certainly reflect this. Of course, work to develop a vaccine goes on, but even if there’s a breakthrough, we’ll have no fast indication of how effective it might be.
Above all, we must consider the risks of trading in an environment with large volumes of visitor traffic, where our staff would have to operate in a largely unavoidable proximity to customers. Social distancing at gatherings of this size would be near on impossible. and what about the risks to our staff.
So, in the meantime, we’re working on another discount voucher initiative, and also looking to venture further into the corporate market with an exciting new range of gift packs. We’ll also carry on building up our online and social media presence to make sure we are part of the noise out there.
It may well be that the current restrictions prove to be a sea change for Truckle Cheese moving forward, and this new business model is what we come to rely on in the future.
One thing’s for certain – we’ll be embracing it whole-heartedly.