How My Family’s Business Pivoted in the Coronavirus Crisis



For business owners all over the country the enforced working restrictions as a result of Covid 19 have been devastating. Suddenly you’ve had to seriously adjust the way you operate. Either you are learning to work from home, caring for children and homeschooling or hoping to find a way to offer your services in a different format. For many business owners, customers have reduced their spending or stopped altogether. It’s heartbreaking - but I wanted to share with you how some have successfully managed to pivot. Creating a way to still serve their customers in some capacity.


My family’s business for example. They run a garden centre in Hampshire and they have a wonderfully loyal local customer base. Customers who have had three or even four generations serve them! My granny used to work here, my parents are semi-retired, my brothers run the show and my kids have all had weekend jobs. Last Monday, due to government restrictions, they had to close their doors - on the verge of one of their busiest times of the year. A day full of emotion, anxiety, relief and fear. But within 24 hours they had come up with a plan to provide the local community with a version of the garden centre.


The Pivot

With the guidance and support of the Horticultural Trades Association, they set up a delivery-only service. Whilst strictly following all the health and safety regulations to protect themselves and their customers they quickly organised a service where locals can call and buy over the phone. The garden centre will safely deliver goods in our local area, either on the kerb or at the end of the drive.



A delivery service for local customers


Keep Communicating

Each day the garden centre posts on their social media channels ideas of what you can do in the garden, offers on products and planting suggestions. There are also packages for children, vegetable patches and flower beds. People are tagging their friends in the comments and asking for gardening advice. They have never seen such engagement on their social media platforms. After just one day they had to provide an additional phone line!


Loyal Fans

The support they’ve experienced from the surrounding villages is overwhelming. The messages of thanks they have received and the joy they have given to the housebound who find gardening a source of light relief or therapy during these times has been amazing. Undoubtedly the weather has helped, and people are taking advantage of the sunshine, be it a little chilly. However, they are also seeing newbies to gardening, and families who want to have a project they can work on during the lockdown. Conversations are being had on Facebook groups and customers are recommending the garden centre to those who are asking for ideas of what to do during the #StayAtHome government order.



Family Garden Projects


Creativity and Adaptability

They aren’t alone. My hairdresser is posting out hair products plus mini videos to explain how to self-dye hair (colour in the grey) - bless her! There’s a local egg farm which served hotels and restaurants, now they are delivering boxes of eggs to locals. The village gym is offering classes online, the beautician is posting products and instructions to her customers, my son is still tutoring but using Skype to teach his students.


I know this isn’t possible for all businesses (sadly my sister’s coffee shop is closed until further notice), but for some of us there is a way to still be of use to our customers - even if it is in a limited capacity.



Many businesses finding a way to pivot


Keep Showing Up

We still have a long way to go, so if possible, it’s vital that we still show up for our customers, be it with a limited service, using our website to keep customers informed of business updates, sending out our newsletters to our email list or posting on social media. And, just as importantly, where possible, we need to support those small businesses around us wherever we can. When we get through the other side of this global crisis it’s the businesses that keep up their visual presence and continue to engage with their customers who will be remembered and called upon first.


If you need any help pivoting your business please get in touch. Drop me an email at sarah@sarahforde.co.uk, I can help with:


  • Remote working set up

  • Social Media Platforms - set up and strategy

  • Creating an internal comms system for your team

  • Moving products or services online

  • Implementing a digital project management tool

  • Email marketing lists and sequences

  • Systems and processes for your employees to follow

  • Setting up video meetings and webinars


Stay home, keep safe,

Sarah xx


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