Rebecca Sides is the General Manager at Inchcape Mercedes Benz. Today she joins us once again to speak about the challenge businesses are facing with of Covid-19 and how we can change your mindset to adapt to the situation:
After twelve years in the motor industry, never did I think I would spend a March month end working from home, whilst the dealership stood closed with no knowledge around when it may reopen. Following government guidance, Inchcape decided to close its businesses last week, in order to protect the wellbeing of both its employees and customers during the current worldwide pandemic.
As Mercedes Benz Warrington locked their doors, so did thousands of businesses around the UK, all with a level of uncertainty none of us have ever felt in our lifetimes. The business world as we knew it was no more and the ways in which we have worked were about to change indefinitely.
In the short space of time that has passed since we closed, above anything else, there is one thing that I have realised. The person I am on the other side of this experience will be determined by the actions I take during it. The ways in which I have been used to working require change in order to adapt to the ever-evolving environment of which I am now operating. It is this ability to adapt and change which will see me through this experience.
One of the most important things we all need right now, especially with our customers, is communication. Certainty is an issue for so many and so we need to provide clear answers to our customer’s questions and concerns to reassure them wherever possible.
If I look back to only four weeks ago, one of the biggest objections I would hear from customers was that they didn’t have time. This has now been replaced with a financial worry for most individuals as time has increased beyond anyone’s expectations. The working day of 9-5 was yesterday’s level of activity. There is no such thing as this now. Our day-to-day action can’t look like it did a month or even two weeks ago as the market place has completely changed.
Coupled with the changes above, we have also seen a difference in the buyers in the market place than those a few weeks ago. Consumers buy products or invest in services to solve a problem, but their problems have changed too. Look at the company Zoom, for example, who are now valued at 50% more than all major US airlines combined. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Zoom’s valuation has skyrocketed to $42 billion. Due to the forced changes in the way we can communicate, Zoom has emerged as the most downloaded app on the IOS App Store, consistently breaking download records. Last Monday, it was downloaded 2.13 million times worldwide. Two months prior, the app had just under 56,000 global downloads a day.
The above evidence shows that the current disruption in the economy is benefiting some businesses, however these changes will alter how we do business going forward. We no longer will need to travel four hours to a one hour meeting after realising we can work more efficiently via video conference. People’s value association with their time will forever be altered as we realise the importance of every minute we have available to us.
A common fear we will hear over the coming weeks and months is that of scarcity. The money, however, has not left the economy; it is just flowing in different ways. If we look at the cleaning and manufacturing industries, we can see clear evidence of financial booms. Amazon and Tesco are both examples of businesses who are expanding where others are contracting. The change in these cycles only goes to show that the market will move again, but it is our responsibility to ensure we are prepared for that shift.
A large proportion of the working public are currently presented with a surplus of time they have never enjoyed before. It is this time that needs to be utilised to become the best version of ourselves to best manage the resurgence of our economy. Take massive action. Get creative. What most of us were doing thirty days ago does not count right now, so we need to look at opportunities to tailor our work streams. Structure your days and allocate time for reading, self-development, exercise and fun! We are still allowed to enjoy a funny movie or a game with our families.
An analogy I like to consider when talking to customers is the “back to the future negotiation”. Take people out of their current situation and ask in ninety days from now what problems would my product solve for you? We can reverse engineer this analogy and look how we can alter our products or services to help consumers now. Remember that we are unlearning old ways and redeveloping new ways to cope with the ever-changing canvas we are presented with. More than ever, consumers are now available to speak to you so use this to your advantage and think of new ways to communicate with your audience. Be an octopus and use every method available; Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Email, TikTok, Snapchat, Phone, Email, YouTube.
Have you ever tried to contact someone over and over by phone but then you send them a text and they reply straight away? Some people aren’t phone people. Find the right method of contact for your audience. Record yourself on the phone or talking about your product so that you know what you sound like and can improve your tone. This is the time to work on you.
There is no denying that most people are facing challenging times right now and although we want to be happy and positive, the reality of the situation can take its toll. When you wake up, before you do anything at all stop and think how you feel. What is your current mind-set? Are you worrying or have you woken up with a high level of certainty? So many of us wake and instantaneously reach for our mobile phones, which in turn forces us to react to the day rather than begin it with intention. I challenge you for a week to start each day with thirty minutes of no social media, no Whatsapp, no texts and no TV. Just you and your mind. I guarantee that the mental control you begin to feel within the first few days will never want you to start your day with a reaction again. Instead of scouring the Daily Mail app, use these thirty minutes to write down your three goals for the day. Think of what you need to achieve and plan your activity. Run the day rather than letting it run you and watch your productivity rise. Take fifteen minutes before bed to tick off these goals so you go to sleep with a sense of achievement and enjoying feeling good about your day!
These may seem like small changes, but it is the small consistent changes that alter our habits over time and produce the biggest results.
More than anything, remember that we will come out of this and we will come out of it together. Stay safe.
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