It’s often said that there is opportunity out of crisis, you just have to see what it is.
For my friend James Goody, this has come from the surge in working from home – and the feeling that this is going to become the “new normal” for many.
James has run his own very successful refurbishment, painting and decorating company for more than 30 years, now based in the Essex countryside.
He keeps considering early retirement but is a true entrepreneur and enjoys the challenge of each new project.
He shut down for a few weeks at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, but pressure from his clients (and workforce who needed the money) pushed him to get back to work as soon it was realistic to do so.
And the new opportunity? More and more potential clients now want a home office built.
Many have been struggling to do remote working with children in the house: we have all seen those Microsoft Teams and Zoom calls interrupted by kids in the background.
Others want to convert the spare bedroom into a proper office with the right office furniture, fast broadband, so they can stop using the kitchen table.
New business line
Companies that specialise in garden shed offices are quoting at least a six-week backlog, so James is getting a ton of inquiries for him to come in and do the job.
It’s a whole new business line and James, whose company carries the strapline Decorators of Distinction, is ramping up to be able to service this new offering.
It is a classic case of opportunity springing up from adversity and a great example of how all firms must show flexibility, ingenuity and customer-focus to take advantage.
Similarly, often high-end restaurants are rapidly becoming adept at producing great takeaway meals to keep their businesses going and keep their brand alive.
My favourite Spanish chef Jose Pizarro has transformed his Bermondsey Street venues into almost a street party atmosphere with vac-packed meals, takeaway tapas and a cocktail bar as locals desperately seek some fun as the lockdown eases.
My bet is that Jose – and many other restaurant owners – will continue to sell takeaway food even when they are fully back up and running. It’s a whole new business line that will continue to be popular.
In the world of property auctions, online bidding – as part of their events in hotels and other venues – has been growing over the past few years.
But Savill’s, and others, have accelerated into holding online-only auctions due to Covid-19, with stellar results.
Savill’s reported that their three live streamed events have brought an average sold price of £100,000 higher than ballroom events, with the June one seeing £22m raised and 78% of properties sold.
It demonstrates that new business methods – forced upon them by the crisis – could actually be better than the old ways.
Going back to James and the home office offering: he has quickly become an expert at what is required from his customers as he expects many more projects to come through.
“We are always alive to the trends in the market,” he said. “It looked like our business would be dead for a few months when the lockdown first started, but now we are working harder than ever.
“We are ready and able to create great home offices for people who know they will be doing this for a very long time, if not forever. It’s a great new opportunity that I wasn’t expecting at the start of 2020.”