Looking back, it’s hard to imagine that the global pandemic started over a year ago. In some sense, time has flown by, but in another it’s been a long and arduous road.
The pandemic has meant different things to different businesses – some have shown fleet of foot and adapted to change, others, mainly larger organisations such as airlines with their huge operating costs have had no such luxury, as there is no obvious or viable alternative to what they do.
One thing that is common to all businesses is that the pandemic has provided the opportunity or even forced companies to re-think how they conduct business. That well-worn phrase, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ is borne out in the proliferation of virtual meetings. We’ve become accustomed to seeing the inside of politicians and celebrities’ houses on our TV screens and whilst we probably all hanker after a return to face-to-face viewing, we must be grateful for the fact that the Internet is the one thing that has held up throughout this crisis.
From the ability to order online 24-7-365 to conducting Zoom meetings (other platforms are available) to virtual events, the Internet has met the challenge and arguably accelerated change that was already afoot.
So, what now as lockdown begins to ease and the shackles start to loosen? If you haven’t been preparing for a return to some form of normality, then you are in for a shock. It is likely that pent-up demand will see a surge in new business come early June followed by a levelling out as the summer progresses.
At RPM, first we met the challenge to equip many of our clients with PPE and Covid protective materials, so that they could continue to operate within the Government’s guidelines. In some cases, this is an ongoing requirement and is indicative of how we have adapted to change.
Similarly, we have broadened our service offering with the launch of Nettl of Swindon, which serves the SME market for website design and deployment, including e-commerce. This has helped offset the negative impact to our print, merchandise and event business.
We’ve also taken a long, hard look at how we do business and how we re-shape in readiness for the June lift-off. We’ve finally upgraded our long overdue Management Information System as we look to meet the quick, often instant customer demands for estimates, status reports and other vital pieces of information. This is beginning to bear fruit.
We are now in advance stages of completely refurbishing our office, factory and warehouse space. Whilst virtual meeting will continue to exist, especially where distance and travel is an issue, we firmly believe that meeting people face-to-face and the office environment are the best ways to form longer and lasting relationships, both with our clients and the wider RPM team.
Which is why we are focusing on a number of key phrases: “creating experiences” and “retail”. I’ve long held the view that print providers need to create experiences for their clients and think retail, putting the consumer front and centre stage. This has led to a complete revamp of our spaces and how we interact internally and with our clients.
We still have some way to go and right now we resemble something more akin to a building site, but I sincerely hope that by the time we are allowed to mix in the way that we were once accustomed to, that we can welcome you to our home.