One Year Ago – Pandemic Mode
Consider that it was just about this time last year when the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the United States declared a State of Emergency, and that 2020 started to turn into what would become a highly disruptive year.
Challenging? You bet.
Bankruptcies were declared from a variety of industries by companies in 2020—Ruby Tuesday, Hertz Rental Cars, Stein Mart, Gulfport Energy, Briggs & Stratton, Guitar Center, Neiman Marcus, Century 21, Gold’s Gym and many more. These were among hundreds of large, national companies—along with countless smaller local and regional businesses—that filed for bankruptcy protection amidst the pandemic.
Business leaders are tasked with reacting to challenges and reassessing their business plans in the best of times. But 2020 was unprecedented in modern business history. If you were a business dependent upon travel—like hotels or airlines—or physical visits from customers like a retail or restaurant business— it is easy to understand why the past year was difficult—sometimes terminally so.
But some business operations did adapt and react. And now, these businesses are not only looking at greater success upon full recovery from the pandemic, but in some cases had an extremely successful growth year in 2020 itself.
Target Corp. Got Much Bigger
Minneapolis-based retailer Target reported solid end-of-year holiday sales increases—but this was just the feather in the cap of the pandemic year in which the company increased revenue with record growth— a 20% increase for full fiscal 2020.
While department stores and apparel retailers were forced to close to in-store shoppers, Target was able to benefit. In the early days of the pandemic, Target remained open, selling essential items like food, clothing, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.
However, more essentially to Target’s success was its earlier investments in online services, which were able to offer continuing benefits throughout the year. Instead of focusing on building online fulfillment warehouses as is typical for e-tailers, Target took a different approach. They established their already existing retail stores as the hubs for shipping online orders. Through a combination of ship-from-store, same day delivery or pick-up options including same-day curbside, Target not only drove sales, but profits: it costs 90% less for Target to fulfill an online order with store pick-up than fulfilling from a warehouse.
As Target CEO Brian Cornell said, “Following years of investment to build a durable, scalable and sustainable business model, we saw record growth in 2020.”
Financial Advice from the Backyard
Business innovation doesn’t happen only inside of the Fortune 500 list of companies.
Belva Anakwenze is the Principal of Abacus Financial Business Management, a minority and female-owned business management company. Or, as she refers to herself—in deference to her Los Angeles location and focus on helping those in the entertainment industry-- the “Leading Lady” of Abacus.
She and her four employees have had to assemble office space from available areas in their homes over the past year, with kitchen tables, back porches and bedroom nightstands serving as a makeshift workspace and the backyard sometimes serving as a socially-distanced conference room.
Pivoting is nothing new for Anakwenze. She had earlier focused on a client base of professional athletes, but observed they were not typically the best at following her financial advice. It was then that she began to focus on entertainment industry talent. Actors, directors, producers, and writers and others work with Abacus on their everyday financial affairs, planning and investing. The entertainment industry’s long shutdown from the Coronavirus meant lower profits and slower growth in 2020 than expected. But Anakwenze is still taking on new business.
“We make money when they make money,” Anakwenze said, referring to her clients. “We’re just trying to stay as nimble as we possibly can.”
Abacus assists their clients with financial reports, bill payment services, financial planning, cashflow management, and more. All these services can be provided by remote means, providing high value to high earners who are looking for expert help.
Or, as succinctly stated on the Abacus website:
“We know people in the entertainment world are not accountants and don’t want to be.”
Growth in a Pandemic? This Business Was Able
According to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, almost half a million Black-owned businesses have had to close due to COVID-19.
William Berry started Able Business Services, a Facilities Management, Commercial Cleaning and Janitorial Supplies business two decades ago. The Miami company was founded with a dedication to not only providing superior service but providing opportunities for employment and growth for staff as well. Berry used his education and experience in the field of vocational rehabilitation to train and hire special needs persons and disabled US Veterans.
Today, Able is not only surviving, but thriving. Over the last year—in the middle of the recession and global health crisis—Able Business Services has hired 200 new employees for a total of 420, and increased revenue by 70%.
“It’s extremely gratifying that I’m in a position where I can give jobs and opportunities to people,” said Berry, “so that they can support their families and pay their bills.”
Berry cites diversification of his business model as key to the recent growth. He adapted quickly to the new normal of the Coronavirus environment, becoming certified in COVID-19 pathogen eradication and positioning the company to earn new contracts.
Able Business Services provides cleaning for various sites for Miami-Dade Water & Sewer, the City of Miami, Miami-Dade Transit and others. And, by including landscaping, chemical blending and propane dispensing, Berry has been able to land other contracts—including Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation—allowing his business to further expand.
Adapting, Reacting and Surviving
Change is the only constant. But sometimes the rate of change is more drastic, more rapid, and necessitates a much greater reaction and adaptation. Acknowledging the situation, considering potential activities and outcomes, and taking prudent, decisive action to meet the challenge can make the difference between survival, or not—and can reap unexpected, greater rewards.
Redline Media Group knows first-hand what it meant to pivot, adapt and react for ourselves and on behalf of our Client-Partners in 2020. Remote-worksite integration for Team Members, establishing enhanced COVID compliant in-office safety protocols, and engaging new means of communication in a pandemic-stricken media marketplace, are just some of the challenges embraced and overcome.
Furthermore, we strategically developed communications on behalf of brands in 76 countries with dynamic messaging for differing sets of laws, protocols, and customs. We have supported our Client-Partners’ efforts to successfully message the pivots made by their own businesses, whether shifting from in-restaurant dining to delivery and takeout; demonstrating and selling vehicles via online channels exclusively, or messaging the sanitization measures undertaken by the service industries that we represent to ensure customer peace of mind. We are grateful to have played an integral role in the development of the industry-leading Safe + Sound program with Hard Rock International, as well as the job that we have executed, assisting our Client-Partners with achieving their goals of staying relevant, and remaining in-demand, as they continue their records of success throughout this pandemic, and beyond.
It’s a great time to consider what changes the recovery from COVID-19 may necessitate, and to start planning now, to get ahead of the curve. Redline Media Group is ready, and taking action in anticipation of our collective recovery.
It’s underway. It’s already begun.