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PIVOT SERIES – How “The Source Bulk Foods ” has pivoted during the lockdown

The Source Bulk Foods is a ‘zero waste’ grocer in Rathmines that stocks over 500 products, including organic wholefoods, cereals, herbs and spices, cooking liquids and oils, raw Irish honey, healthy snacks, as well as and sustainable personal and household products. Our store is a plastic free environment where our customers have the option of refilling their own containers or using the paper bags or glass jars we have onsite.

Zero waste shopping has revolutionised the way a lot of people buy their groceries today, so we were delighted to set up the first Irish franchise of this Australian brand in December 2019. However, three months later our new store was faced with unprecedented business decisions as the country entered lockdown due to Covid-19!

Essential Service & Essential Changes

As food retail was considered an essential service during lockdown we were allowed to remain open. However, as a team we took the decision to close in the first 10 days to take stock of the new situation and to evaluate how we could best keep our customers and staff safe.  We introduced measures to ensure that our hygiene measures to combat Covid 19 were in line with government guidelines and we installed screens at our counter to allow customers and staff to interact with each other in a safe environment.  We also reduced the number of customers allowed in the store at any one time to 4.

When we re-opened we got wonderful feedback from our customers who visited us. Our regulars were genuinely delighted they could continue their zero-waste shopping experience during the lockdown. Our customers are very passionate about sustainability, the environment and avoiding the use of unnecessary plastic and packaging, so it was important to them that had the option to shop with us.

Pivoting Further

With so many of our customers self-isolating or wary of entering retail outlets we realised that we needed to offer an online option, and so our click & collect and delivery service was quickly developed.  With the help of our UK team we utilised our current POS and linked it to our website and within a few days we had a workable online solution.  This was also connected to our stock system so customer could only order with what we had in stock. 

We have seen demand for certain products change.  All our baking products have dramatically increased in sales.  We have customers ordering 10 kilos of strong white flour who have never shopped with us before. Our Irish flour range which includes rye, spelt and wholemeal flour have quadrupled in demand and our sales of yeast, and other baking ingredients, such as chocolate drops and cacao butter, have been incredible.

The online ordering system that we have introduced is here to stay, so we have basically added two new routes to market in click & collect and delivery.  We’re aware that we will need to upgrade the system in the coming months. Our customers have been extremely forgiving during the Covid 19 crisis as our online service, although phenomenally successful and user friendly, is by no means perfect!

Looking Ahead

We are optimistic about the future, but like many other businesses at the moment, we are cautious. We still expect to grow in 2020 and beyond, and we’re already looking at new sites in Dublin. 

If we had some advice for our community it would be buy local, eat local and this year explore the beautiful country in which we live rather than going abroad on holiday.  This is the best way to ensure that we employ as many people as possible, and support both the local economy and the environment. 

https://www.thesourcebulkfoods.ie/

Ken Kinsella

Store Owner

You can catch Ken and The Source Bulk Foods on the following social media platforms:

The Source Bulk Foods on Instagram

The Source Bulk Foods Ireland on Facebook

Ken on Instagram

Ken on LinkedIn

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PIVOT SERIES – How “Lafferty Architects” has pivoted during the lockdown

Lafferty – Business Continuity & Agility During Lock Down

With a team of 70 Architects and Project Managers, our approach is largely based on teamwork and creative collaboration. Prior to the lock down experience I would have believed this could only be effectively achieved face to face.

However, since the 13th March our full team have been successfully working from home. Originally planned as a trial WFH day to test our IT resilience, overnight, just like everyone else it became our new norm. We were fortunate that technology in our industry has advanced to a stage where all project data sharing is on a BIM digital platform and through continual investment in IT innovation (and our wonderful IT Manager Jen), our team didn’t skip a beat in servicing our client’s needs. I don’t like to think of how challenging this situation would have been had we faced it 10 years ago.

We have put a lot of focus on building a strong company culture at Lafferty over the past few years through investing in the talent of our people, which essentially is the core value of our business. During lock down, the creativity, motivation and commitment of our team has paid us back in spades, demonstrating leadership and continuity of a high-quality service. No deadlines have been missed.

Response to Crisis

Our initial response was to contact all our Clients to reassure them of continuity of service, listen to their specific challenges in this rapidly altered environment and find out where we could be of support. Having worked through the last recession and understanding the importance of cash flow at a time of crisis, it was also essential to include an open commercial discussion. A good client and service provider relationship is a supportive one, as both parties want each other to emerge post-crisis in a strong position.

Given the economic uncertainty and temporary closure of construction sites, it was inevitable that some projects were revaluated or paused. Some sector classes will be very challenged post-lock down, although the correction in the market will also bring new opportunities.

While our focus is very much on winning new business and servicing current projects, delays to projects have created an opportunity to re-evaluate and reassign resources.  We are delighted to be able to use this in a very positive way by offering our services to support to a very worthy cause.

We were approached in April to step in as Architects to design 30 new homes for the Empower the Family Charity on a vacant site in Ballymun. This is a venture that our Project Managers were already involved in and the previous Architects had to suddenly withdraw due to uncertainty around Covid. The Charity, founded by the inspirational Deborah Somorin, supports disadvantaged single parents to complete their university education and essentially recast their life path. We assigned two of our experienced residential Architects, Daire and Jelena on the project which will be progressing to a Planning Application in mid-summer.

With the inevitability that WFH will form part of many company’s employment strategy going forward, we recently partnered with a Fabrication Company to design a Garden Office Pod that will incorporate a strong design and sustainability ethos. We believe that successful long-term WFH will require a demarcation between home and office space.

As a Team Building exercise, we decided to run this as a concept design competition within the Practice.  Following a great response with 13 really creative entries, which we had externally judged, an elegant garden pod design by Ola, one of our talented Architects from our Polish office came out on top. Prototypes of the Pod are currently being fabricated and we are really excited to see the end result.

The Future

While there are not many positives to be taken from this tragic period, we do intend to ingrain some of the good experiences we have encountered over this time into Lafferty. I would have been previously sceptical of WFH as a workable business model due to the lack of collaboration and oversight. My perception of this has completely altered and there is without doubt a place for a hybrid working model that will allow more productive focus time in a home environment and the subsequent work/life balance advantages it will bring. It will not work for all, but it will add flexibility to how we resource projects.

It has also reinforced the essential truth of having great people around you and a strong team culture with a clear common purpose.

The value of our neighbourhoods has never been so appreciated as during this time of restricted movement. It would be great to think that one positive would be to put greater emphasis on building strong sustainable local communities with amenities that support all age groups. We are all now very aware of what is within our immediate vacinity.

On a national level, it is essential that the State significantly invests in infrastructure, healthcare and housing, the pressing issues pre-Covid still remain.

I believe that Ireland is in a strong position to be one of the economies that recovers quickly. We have developed a more varied and layered economy since the last recession and the country’s collective response to the Pandemic will show us in a positive international light. I am optimistic that after a challenging period the future will be bright – but I wouldn’t be getting the shades out yet.

www.lafferty.ie

Jim Gallagher

Managing Director

You can catch Lafferty Architects on the following social media platforms:

Lafferty Architects on LinkedIn

Lafferty Architects on Instagram

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PIVOT SERIES – How the Artizan Food Co. has pivoted during the lockdown

How has COVID-19 affected you and your business in a positive way? 

Many of our clients were quick to implement “work from home” initiatives as Covid-19 arrived in Ireland.  Consequently, we were forced to react quickly.  We spoke to and worked with each of our clients to see how we could move forward and thankfully all of them have been extremely supportive.  The fact that we own our Central Production Facility allowed us to deliver the necessary changes as we moved to individual meals and snacks, delivered into our client sites, until all sites finally closed.

The speed of the shut-down and the effect it had on many people in our society turned our focus to the charities who might need assistance.  We already had an established in-house Charity Committee, with Crumlin Children’s hospital being our chosen charity partner.  Therefore, it was natural to start by supporting the Ronald McDonald House as they were forced to close their kitchen.  We began making meals for them and several other charities.  The more phone calls we made the more we realised that most charities had been forced to close their own in-house kitchens as Covid-19 spread.

Initially we funded this ourselves.  On explaining to clients, the scale of the problem that was emerging they agreed to contribute, donating all the snacks that were left in their offices plus additional funds.  Amazingly the aircraft leasing company Avolon allocated their full catering budget to our charity programme.  When the lockdown was announced, we declared ourselves an “Essential Service” and have stayed open to this day.

I am delighted to say, we have donated over 30,000 meals to charities so far.  These have included charities such as inner city homeless, the Ronald Mc Donald House, St Michael’s House, Barnardo’s, Holles’ Street Hospital, St James’ Hospital and many small local charities feeding the elderly that were now in their homes cocooning.  This charity initiative would not have been possible without the help of both our clients and our amazing team who deserve all the credit for this.  This includes the admin staff who manned the phones and liaised with the charities, the chefs, the kitchen staff and the delivery drivers.  Everybody came to work each day with a smile.

How have you pivoted your business? 

We have also been working hard over the last few weeks to develop our current offering as we “Reverse out of Covid”.  We see companies looking for alternative catering solutions for their staff who will return to work.

With this in mind we have developed a new range of chilled meals which include individually packed breakfast, lunch, and dinner solutions, in compostable packaging, all produced in our 25,000 sq ft Central Production Facility.  This offering will be delivered by our team of drivers, who have been trained in HSE protocols. This service/offering is not just for clients whose on-site restaurant has closed, but for clients who do not ordinarily provide food to employees, but do not want their employees queuing at the local shop or deli for their lunch.

Our Pantry Service/Vending business continues to list nearly 1,000 pre-packed items, including our in-house produced energy balls, juices, fruit pots etc – an ideal solution!

We also launched our new sister company, www.eatto.ie. This business, which had been in development for some time, produces handmade meals using the best Irish ingredients. These meals are blast-frozen and delivered nationwide, directly to the consumer. Due to the high demand for this new initiative, we are working to extend the range of products available in the Eatto.ie catalogue for launch in July.

We produce everything in-house from the best Irish ingredients, guaranteeing an exceptionally high-quality product.  We are proud members of Bord Bia’s Origin Green initiative and members of the Love Irish Food Association.

What if any of the COVID-19 changes do you see being made into long-term changes, and how do you believe it will help your business post the crisis? 

Covid has changed everything about hospitality particularly the world of catering. This includes everything about food presentation in the short to medium term.  Clients are looking to “take back” space from catering companies, space that is now required for larger working and breakout areas because of social distancing.  This is forcing operators into producing more and more food offsite.  Industry talk is about Cloud Kitchens and Central Production Kitchens.  We are fortunate to have our own Central Production Facility for over 12 years leaving us well positioned for this shift in how the catering world is serviced.

What is your view on the market post COVID-19? 

There is no doubt, working from home will reduce customers in our client’s restaurants.  While I do believe that this will continue because of Covid, l see companies slowly re-opening over the next few months and staff returning to offices on a gradual basis.  While working from home has its advantages it is not for everyone or a perfect solution, particularly on a full-time basis.  Consequently, we see our clients retuning to near pre-Covid levels in the medium term.  We are fortunate to have a great team and facility in place that allows us to remain flexible and innovative for our clients while delivering a best-in-class solution.

www.artizancatering.ie

www.eatto.ie 

Barry McAuliffee

Managing Director

You can catch Barry, Artizan Food Co. and Eatto on the following social media platforms:

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PIVOT SERIES – How “The Way” have pivoted post Covid-19

Meet Grainne and Dominic founders of The Way a health and wellness business.

If one of the definitions of Pivot is to change course this perfectly sums up the last few months for all of us, not just small business owners like ourselves.

As a Health and Wellness Business our days were usually occupied with helping clients in the gym, 1-1 coaching sessions on health topics like nutrition, stress management or visiting companies to teach, talk and work with their employees on all aspects of looking after health and wellbeing.

Since early January we had been watching with concern the news of Covid-19 from China but it wasn’t until 12th Mach after listening to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s address that we realised that we had an immediate need to figure out how could we still do what we normally do or we would have no business to speak of at all.

Companies were all scrambling to answer the same questions and we needed to get their attention and the attention of our day to day customer to show them that we can still deliver our services despite the restrictions and distance between us.

Embracing Change

Our first adjustment was to quickly make investments in change – we knew we had to be able to give people workouts they could do daily with minimal equipment from home so we ran out to buy better audio and video tech before everyone else realised what was going on. Being a small company gives us the ability to make decisions quickly and this paid off as we were up and running within two days of the restrictions.

Another key investment we made was to make use of the technology that was always available to us e.g. Zoom and Google hangouts, this made delivering everything from cookery demos to mobility focused classes possible and provided us with a strong platform to keep in touch with our clients. We had to adapt quickly and establish a presence to reassure our them that we were still here for them or we might have become invisible due to the glut of ‘free’ offers that were being put out there by others.

Zooming in

The past 2-3 months have involved adjusting workspace in the house, grabbing equipment from the gym to deliver our daily workouts, lots of home DIY and more than it’s fair share of stress due to the uncertainty and unpredictability of work and trying to adjust to home schooling an 11yr old. We knew these were the same experiences that all our clients were facing and we and tried to reflect that in what we were offering through live Zoom sessions on nutrition, sleep, managing stress and how to stay resilient. We also remained active on our social media and posted daily to let people know tough times require connection, support and positive habits and we are here to help.

Our USP is our holistic health offering grounded in years of experience training clients face to face and working in a corporate environment – this has put us in a position where distance may be a hurdle but that has been made somewhat easier to jump due to the confidence we have in our services and the speed at which we pivoted.

Pivoting for the future

We have always had a people first approach to business and in the current climate we maintained close contact with our clients but not through aimless emails and texts but through good old-fashioned phone calls so we could really get a sense of what they needed and how we could help.

The Future is one we are all adjusting to, but we see Connection and Safety as the vital components in the future of our work.

We see a future where there are more outdoor spaces for people to come together to exercise free from the worries of going to a packed gym. Partnership and support from local councils and businesses will needed but imagine if our parks or business green spaces could be used for more than walkers and dogs.

“Excellence is the next five minutes”

We know that remote working will be reconfigured so that people are not stuck at home working but have access to shared spaces. We imagine a future where these shared spaces could also have space for health and wellbeing – for small group, minimal equipment workouts, talks, cookery demonstrations, led meditations etc and technology can deliver services like ours to those spaces.

As Tom Peter’s would say “Excellence is the next five minutes”, right now we focus on delivering excellence in that next phone call and in that next live Zoom session. We are writing our plans in pencil, not pen, adjusting in the now in the hope of creating a better future for us AND our clients.

www.thisistheway.ie

We are the go-to team for fitness and wellbeing.

Our way is simple – Move Well, Train Well, and Eat Well to be well!

Grainne & Dominic

You can catch Grainne and Dominic on the following social media platforms:

Grainne on Instagram

Dominic on Instagram

Grainne on Twitter

Dominic on Twitter

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COVID-19 and the Changed Face of Business & Marketing

The business world has been changed utterly by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the aftermath of our current lockdown, how can marketing step up to re-boot future business growth?  

A new normal

Every business has experienced the dramatic shift to remote working. With social distancing going to be a long-term reality, remote working will become a permanent part of our working way. This has the potential to be a good and bad thing for businesses – on the negative side businesses will be challenged to manage teams remotely and to building strong team culture when not in physical proximity. On the positive side it will reduce the need for expensive office space, it can foster a culture of output orientated performance and can enable a more empowered work force, reducing commute times and offering improved work life balance which is something that has been craved for a long time.

The normal offline way of business is changed. With trade events and face to face meetings now impossible, businesses have embraced technology – reflected in the growth in video conferencing provider Zoom as an example. There are now many platform alternatives for businesses to create and manage meetings, webinars and events –  Slack, Team, Hangouts etc. Online conferencing and meetings are now firmly established and are here to stay. Now is the time for businesses to plan new ways of ensuring they are interacting with their target audiences.  

Digital Activation

From a marketing perspective what has the short-term impact been and what are the longer-term implications for businesses and consumers? Since March 2020 e-commerce activity globally is up 108%, with 42% of consumers say their shopping habits will be changed forever. Businesses are going to become increasingly more reliant on their digital marketing for positioning and promotion. Those businesses that embrace this reality will be the ones that survive and thrive best. Right now is the time for businesses to get active. They should consider the following:

  • Update their website – it is essential to make it the hub of their digital communications
  • Examining how to win in SEO – ensure all content is accurately optimised for the new world your targets live in
  • Consider when to use paid search & remarketing – paid search and conversion rates are down. This presents an opportunity in terms of the auction rates available to promote to your audience
  • Review how social media channels can engage with audiences – SM activity has increased dramatically as people have looked to stay engaged. Consider social media advertising
  • Consider outbound email it is still a very powerful medium in the B2B space 
  • Build out a detailed and layered content marketing strategy – embrace creating raw user generated content and don’t get fixated on having the very highest production standards – especially if marketing budgets are being pinched
  • Look to develop as much earned media as you can – build out online networks and hunt for endorsements from industry influencers
  • Look to see where your business can step up and help your community – Irish Distillers pivoted very quickly into producing alcohol for hand sanitisers, promoting a really positive message for their brand 

 

Agility and adaptability will be the key to success. The starting point is to re-examine where your targets are to be found online? The manner businesses and brands behaved before COVID and after will not be the same. What needs have changed with your target audiences? How can you ensure that you understand and can solve their current pain points? How should you now target them for mutual benefit and success? Many of the answers to these questions will have shifted in the last few months – your targets world, like yours has spun. If your business promoted itself predominantly off-line, now is the time to examine how you can stay relevant in a digital environment. But be strategic with how you move into this space. Don’t view it as a short-term fix but rather a long-term strategic shift, based on the market environment and need.  

Start now

Start focusing now on your brand and your marketing. You must be as ready as possible when the economy opens up – there is no time to be wasted, you need to create opportunities to grow leads once again. It is a difficult and scary time, but it is not a time for neutrality and sitting back. As always fortune will favour the brave and as Warren Buffet said, 
 
“Be fearful when others are being greedy and greedy when others are being fearful.”