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My Strategy For Surviving Coronavirus
By Danielle and Kyle Holmes, Directors of Black Nova Designs Ltd, award winning professional web design, hosting and IT company based in Wiltshire. They offer the full I.T. solution to your everyday business and personal needs in a succinct and friendly manner, combining service with affordability.
When did you realise the Coronavirus could be a problem for you and your business?
Around mid March when two of our staff members received the letter to stay in for 12 weeks, thankfully our systems and infrastructure were already in place for all staff to be able to work from home, however within a few weeks we began to learn more about who a keyworker was and that our sudden influx of work was due to the fact IT workers counted as key workers,
As a husband and wife led business we had to think about the business and the children and how we would manage it all, and ensure the best support for the staff. We postponed any installations jobs we had in the pipelines and created a new drop off / collection for laptop repairs.
The key was communication between the team and our customers, customer service was at the forefront of our minds at all times, continuing to create a structure and plan around the young children being at home and continuing to ensure the team and clients were supported.
What has been your plan to continue?
We are fortunate to have always had a phone line and ‘office’ set up at home. Most of our staff are part time and work from home around their children and therefore we are lucky enough to have a work from home plan and contingency already in place.
For their peace of mind they knew their jobs were not only safe but clients already booked in were still happy to continue with projects and we had new enquiries arriving.
We implemented weekly webex catch up meetings and ensured all clients were aware that for us it was business as usual wherever possible. Laptop and pc repairs did now have a new procedure, parts would take longer to arrive but this was again communicated with customers. We continued to offer free support and advice for anyone needing a little help and reassurance on their IT equipment where possible.
Customer service was key, we contacted all clients to reassure them our usual contact methods were all still active and we were here for them, remote support costs were discounted and shared to as many clients as possible.
All staff already had company laptops and access from home to all software required to continue their roles.
How have you changed your business as the weeks are passing?
Our team are adapting well to the new consistent work from home scenario, we are continuing to ensure good communication between clients and staff. Concise and clear advice, and offering discounted services where necessary. Only one member of the tech team is continuing to do the laptop and pc repairs to ensure the management of people dropping off/pick up are continually monitored.
We are very fortunate that our business and core structure will be maintained even while working from home, team spirit and customer service is always a top priority for us. Managing client expectations is key in this time, ensuring realistic timelines are provided and clear concise attention to detail is top priority.
Have you been able to access any government support or funding?
Both myself and Kyle are directors of a Limited company, paid on PAYE and due to our industry continuing to be ‘business as usual’ as much as possible we do not qualify for any support or funding so far. We are fortunate that so far all staff are still working and have not been asked to go on Furlough but who knows what the future holds, but for now we maintain a positive outlook and doing everything we can to keep our team in work.
What have you seen in business which is positive?
The large amount of support, guidance and coming together of so many. We have been fortunate enough to see a large number of positive come from this, including more down time – that may sound strange but feel we were watching many run on ‘burn out’ and now forced to rest and recover can come back stronger and better than ever.
We have seen other business’s use this time to reflect on goals, vision and planning for the future. They have completed internal policies that often get forgotten about or reviewing monthly bills and costs that again often get left.
Many social media groups have come together to bring more support to each other. We have seen first-hand how charities are coming together to support the homeless, this is a huge positive in our opinion.
Our business has seen a increase in calls, enquiries and we are looking at how to ensure we can continue this and improve upon internal procedures and value added services.
Have you seen any behaviours you feel have been negative?
On occasion we have unfortunately seen, albeit more often than not on social media that the ‘keyboard warriors’ have reappeared, it is to easy to forget to #bekind while behind a screen and we have seen a few comments, including one personally to myself about my parenting choices that were very negative.
There has also been a minority of expectation that business’s are now working for free, explaining there is still a charge makes things awkward and sometimes uneasy. We have had a small number of emails requesting we amend or edit something for free, or the pull on our emotions to do a project for half price, or within a few days. We are grateful that thee requests are minimal and in the most our clients new and existing are very understanding of our procedures and charges. Being a service based business the value of our time and skill can be overlooked and it reiterates the point about to ensure a positive experience we manage expectation from the beginning.
What advice would you give to others in business?
Adapt where you can, update your website, ensure it is the best it can be, get your online presence out there. Share what you do, work IN your business, get the internal paperwork up to date, costs review and above all stay home and stay safe and follow the government guidelines.
What can we do to help each other?
Create online calls and meet ups, get in contact with friends and family, embrace the available free video software (we use webex but there are many options), be there for clients, family and friends that need you. Embrace the time with your young children. There is no hiding away from everything being different and maybe a little scary but if we stick together and support colleagues, family and other business’s there will be a way forward for us all.
Your parting thought?
We are aware already of some nasty emails with malicious virus’s on them, or scams directly relating to COVID-19 – be more aware of online emails and calls, do not click on or answer calls you are not expecting. If you are unsure always check first.
Be safe and follow government guidelines and stay positive – the world may never be the same again but together we can fight this.
For more information visit https://www.blacknovadesigns.co.uk/