Pivot. The business buzzword from the past two years. And the action so many businesses had to take to stay afloat over a challenging period.
So, what do the businesses that have thrived over this time have in common?
A few critical behaviours have been at play. They've identified new revenue streams, used existing assets to extend their service offering and have maintained relationships throughout their supply chain.
We spoke to two Bendigo Bank business customers who have reaped rewards following these steps.
Led by owner Rollo, Crittenden Wines are a family of grape growers, wine makers and wine distributors. Based in the picturesque Mornington Peninsula, the business operates a cellar door and wine club while supplying wine to restaurants, bars and bottle shops. The property is also home to three beautiful self-contained villas, popular with holidaymakers.
Out of the box revenue ideas
When COVID hit much of its usual trade, selling wine to restaurants paused due to lockdowns. One of their priorities was to keep their thirteen staff employed. So Rollo and his team got creative, developing new ways to keep the business running and revenue coming in.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride of shutdowns, re-opening and more shutdowns. We were lucky wine production and wine retailing were essential services, so we were able to continue operating. But we had to change what we normally do to keep going,” he explains.
Existing resources for new opportunities
A smart move was leveraging the power of its existing wine club called The Crittenden Wine Alliance. “Over the last six years, we’ve built up a fantastic wine club of very loyal customers. We started contacting them via phone and email. Many ordered wine for themselves and for friends and family who might have been facing a tough time during lockdown,” Rollo explains.
“We would take orders during the day and at the end of it, our team would jump in their cars and deliver wine to customers. It was just a fantastic the way the community rallied around to support us,” he adds.
Much like their own family-run business, Crittenden sells their wine through small, independent retailers. “Our sales team worked closely with our retailers throughout the pandemic. We've been supporting them through a difficult period. It’s been the key to re-building the business,” said Rollo.
With restrictions now eased in Victoria, Crittenden Wines is looking forward to a successful summer. The business has had a strong re-opening, in part due to the great relationships it enjoys with its local customers.
The cellar door was also refreshed during lockdown using local trades. The closed period gave the team the luxury of time they wouldn’t normally have to complete the update. Since re-opening, Crittenden has thanked its loyal wine club members by inviting them to exclusive events. There are lots of other great initiatives planned to help drive business growth and the wine club continues to thrive. “I'm confident the green shoots are there for a very strong summer,” he says.
Aumann’s is another dynamic business ready for a great summer and 2022.
Operating across four locations in Victoria, the garden and building supplies business has been busy through COVID. Demand remained high from landscapers and builders whose work continued despite restrictions.
Exploring new business opportunities
After the initial uncertainty of the pandemic, Aumann's adapted to life in lockdown by making changes to the way they ran their business. For instance, the team normally sell bare root plant stock during winter to retail clients. To keep the roots healthy and not go to waste, they potted the stock, which is now blooming and flying out the doors.
Founder Andrew Mackintosh also launched Aumann's Fresh Food during lockdown. Selling fresh fruit and veggies from the nursery car park, which qualified as an essential service. “This allowed the business to stay open when its main retail operations were closed,” said Bendigo Bank senior manager, Steven Bogaard.
COVID created opportunities
Aumann’s truck fleet has also been busy delivering landscaping supplies during the pandemic. It has kept staff occupied and employed, albeit on reduced hours.
With lockdowns over, Aumann’s is getting back to business. They're offering a brisk trade in popular products like planters and outdoor furniture.
“We stayed in close touch through the pandemic, not just for commercial purposes but also to make sure Andrew and his staff were ok. I’m so pleased to say the business is a real success story,” Bogaard says.
- Use existing customer database and focus on communicating new business products and services
- Get all hands-on deck
- Focus on relationships with retailers and stockists
- Down time can give you time to do the project you’ve had on your to do list for years
- Ensure a strong opening by communicating your new offer and product with customers via email marketing, social media or personal invitations
- Shift your product and service offer in line with new customer trends ie. With people not travelling they have disposable cash to spend on updating their homes or buying a nice bottle of wine