Pivoting Through Covid-19 – AGHA Feature
Australian Businesses Beating the Pandemic
For some, the initial shock and impact of COVID-19 on business in Australia was a devastating reality. For others, the pandemic was used as a chance to thrive and pivot in an environment they never thought they would overcome. CEO & Co-Founder of Enjoy Living, Lisa Carrick did just this and has shared her story on how, as a wholesaler, they pulled through one of the toughest years they have ever experienced.
It certainly was not the year we planned to mark our 10 years of business. We had BIG product plans, had just come off the most successful Trade Fair in Sydney and were finding our stride when life as we knew it just literally stopped in its tracks mid March. After the initial shock of it all, which lasted about a week, I reached out to a few trusted wholesalers and retailers in my network. We took some comfort in the knowledge that everyone was sailing through the same storm, but soon realised that not everyone was in the same boat. If we were to weather it, we needed to shift our focus pretty quickly to the end game – what life would be like after Covid. We needed to regroup to ensure all our community (staff, agents, distributors, contractors and retailers) could get through this together.
Given my corporate background with Coles-Myer, I pivoted like most had to do, and decided to focus on strengthening our infrastructure. If we could not grow sales as forecasted, then we had to reduce costs, which meant everyone working on the business, rather than in it. Every action we took had the sole purpose of adding value directly or indirectly to our community of retailers who had supported us. We focussed on how our business should look once we came through the other side. With some incredibly loyal staff and fortuitous meetings of the minds, we formed new long term and mutually beneficial strategic alliances, worked on rebuilding the brand and website from the ground up, put in place systems and processes that removed duplication, and streamlined the business as much as we could.
On the flip side, we took the “saved spend” on trade fairs and travel and invested most of these funds back into marketing and advertising. We continued with our pre-Covid plans of engaging a Brand Manager and Social Media Specialist (both of whom have become so integral to our business that in hindsight I wish I’d done this years ago), we reduced our free freight threshold from $500 to $200 and widened the free freight elivery area from capital cities to Australia-wide. We removed all credit card surcharges, continued to offer trading terms, and built a web page dedicated to showcasing our retailer’s logos with links back to their websites (if they had one) to encourage consumers to buy local.
Since May, we have never performed better. Focusing on everyone else to ensure they would realise their goals meant we would realise ours by default. We built a culture of celebration where every month we find a reason to celebrate the achievements of so many in our village who have truly banded together. There’s no doubt that the homewares industry is a beneficiary of the reallocation of consumers discretionary spend. As families were being forced to spend more time in their homes, and with lighting being such an integral and cost effective way to change the ambience and mood, we were in the right place at the right time to be of service.
With two new containers arriving next month with close to 200 back orders (think our new Weather and UV resistant candle, perfect for outdoor entertaining at Christmas, our new wax covered Maxi Tea Light that in a world first takes 2AAA batteries, our stunning Christmas Trees and our functional and elegant Tapers), we are quietly optimistic about the second half of the year, and grateful for the way in which Australians have fallen in love with our products.
– Lisa Carrick, CEO & Co-Founder, Enjoy Living