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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

C-Suite Advisory

How to Reinvent Your Business During a Crisis

Companies pivot for all sorts of reasons: New market opportunities, greater operational efficiency, or market changes. Whatever the reason, pivoting always requires strategy, vision and swift action — even more so in a crisis such as the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

History tends to repeat itself — in the early 2000s a global pandemic named SARS impacted the world GDP by 0.1% but accelerated the internet boom. COVID-19, on the other hand, has impacted the world GDP by 1% and is accelerating another trend: the shift to contactless services for businesses to survive.

The Need to Pivot

On the surface, the pandemic poses a threat to the vast majority of businesses. However, if you shift perspective, there’s no better opportunity for reinvention than now — an opportunity that’s presented by fundamental changes in consumer behavior and the broader financial climate.

For example, one manifestation of such behavioral changes is a broad usage and acceptance of online ordering for groceries, restaurant food, and retail store items. 60% of surveyed consumers stated they’ll continue the same rates of online shopping after COVID-19 ends. Companies need to pivot to online ordering, delivery, and contactless shopping because that’s what customers currently demand and might expect in the long term.

Once government officials announce the economy will “reopen,” that won’t dissipate public concern and caution as social distancing would still be very much top of mind. In a recent FanFood survey, over 86% of fans expressed they will likely be more cautions on health and hygiene at a sporting venue. Will customers frequent restaurants, movie theaters, and other crowded spaces? Businesses should keep a keen ear toward what happens during this period.

Pivoting Intelligently

To determine how to pivot, and for long, companies need to gain an understanding of user behaviors and timelines; along with existing capital resources and current market opportunities. Some companies might find themselves better off after a pivot and continue that model for the long term. Others might return to the traditional model once the crisis is over. Here are some things to consider when companies pivot:

  • Examine existing inventory and expertise. Think about cosmetics firms that are making sanitizer, or high-end restaurants operating online storefronts to sell flour and meat to consumers. One Chicago restaurant is even making masks in pizza ovens. Think about what your company does and the skills of the workforce and put them to work in a new way to better need market demands
  • Engage with customers to retain their loyalty and interest. A study of 25,000 consumers across 30 markets showed social media engagement grew 61% over normal usage rates during the COVID-19 outbreak. Usage and engagement numbers are up on all major social platforms. That’s where people are gathering and communicating, and brands should take notice.
  • Share “insider secrets” about your business to keep customers interested in your brand. This could be a tour of your brewery’s production process, or a video showing how you create your award-winning salsa, or if you’re IKEA, the recipe to Swedish meatballs.
  • Manage the ways you discuss and handle your business in terms of the pandemic, quarantine, and customer concerns. Customers will notice tone-deaf messaging, which can impact their long-term loyalty for your brand.
  • Examine ways to shift payment models, for example, some food market halls such as Denver Central Market moved to a retail model by selling grocery boxes on-site and for delivery or like some drive-in movie theatres beginning to serve takeout.
  • Focus on helping people over selling. An example is Task Rabbit’s “Tasks for Good” program launched in 20 global cities that offers at-risk and vulnerable individuals with people to complete tasks at no cost.

Leveraging Technology

Technology and collaboration tools make pivots more efficient and feasible. NBA has been doing a great job at using technology to keep fans engaged. Despite canceled games, the league shifted to hosting

a monthly NBA 2K Players Tournament based on the popular video game, as well as a HORSE tournament with several NBA players, with prize money going to coronavirus-focused charities.

Besides using technology for engaging with your audience, internal communication tools are also essential. According to a Gartner HR study, 41% of workers are expected to be remote at least some of the time, a jump from the 30% who worked remotely before the pandemic. This shift will result in other questions about pivoting. Remote work itself represents a pivot for a company, as it will impact business models in unforeseen ways.

From Pivoting to Long-Term Strategy

Attracting customers during the crisis might require more than a pivot. At FanFood, a commission-free online and mobile ordering platform for stadium and live event venues, we have used a multi-tiered strategy during the crisis. With all events canceled, we made a swift pivot into restaurants, bars, cafes and breweries, since our plug-and-play tech solution can get these businesses started in no time.

We noticed that the demand for quick, easy and safe mobile ordering is rising across industries: from sports and entertainment to dining and hospitality. And we’ve been optimizing our product to meet this demand across sectors. That means we will soon be bringing the ultimate ordering experience to all “fans” — whether they are sitting on the couch at home or cheering at a crowded stadium.

As part of the pivot, we are also offering a Local Business Relief Package, which consists of 60-day free usage of our platform (with no revenue share) and $5,000 per participating business to drive orders. FanFood also partnered with Feeding America, to donate one meal per every order made on their app. No matter what your business is, it is important to understand the shifting times and how to best adjust to meet customer needs.


Written by Carson Goodale. Have you read?
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Carson Goodale
Carson Goodale, CEO and co-founder of FanFood, a Chicago-based tech company that offers concessions management and mobile ordering solution at sports and live entertainment events. A first-time veteran entrepreneur, Carson has been named “25 under 25” by Chicago Inno, and is an alum of Bunker Labs, Future Founders and 1871, and has been featured on Google For Startups. Carson Goodale is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.