Covid-19 has changed all our lives to varying degrees, but businesses especially have had to adapt to the new environment.
REDnews spoke to four Westpac business customers that have innovated to keep running during lockdown.
Adlux: From skylights to face shields
When Adlux couldn’t operate their usual business of manufacturing and supplying skylights and roof windows throughout New Zealand during lockdown, they quickly decided to adapt.
They drew inspiration from an overseas supplier and pivoted their manufacturing into face shields, due to the shortage of supply identified.
“It was like the quick or the dead, if we didn’t get in quickly, we’d be following someone else,” Managing Director Clynt Church said.
That quick decision led them to start manufacturing the face shields during Covid-19 and they’ve already had orders for more than 100,000 units across New Zealand and received enquiries from America and Europe, including an order from France.
“The driving factor was to retain our employees in New Zealand and to employ new Kiwi workers during this time of uncertainty.
"We have worked hard to source all the materials required from New Zealand suppliers, because they too have staff to look after,” Church said.
By pivoting the company's workforce into manufacturing face shields, Adlux has not only retained their regular staff, but has also employed more than 40 new workers who lost their jobs during lockdown.
“We see housing and building being a buoyant industry as we come out of lockdown, so we also employed a new manager because we expect the demand for shields to increase during Level 3 and beyond,” he said.
Adlux’s face shields meet international health specifications and European approval standards.
Sidart & Sid at The French Café: From fine dining to takeaways
A 10-course tasting menu with wine pairing at fine dining restaurant Sidart is off the table during lockdown. As is a seven-course tasting menu from Sid at The French Café.
So, the owners of three Auckland restaurants Sidart, Sid at the French Café and Cassia have completely overhauled their strategy and business model.
“We have changed our entire model and created a new booking system, website for online orders and changed our health and safety measures for contactless payments,” Director, and Co-Owner Chand Sahrawat says.
And changing to pick up and delivery meals has already proven popular - on the first day of Level 3, the restaurants were sold out for dinner orders.
“On that first day of Level 3 we received 70 orders each for Sid at the French Café and Cassia, so we had to stop taking orders after that amount,” Sahrawat.
The other change of strategy is their menu during lockdown, as a $175 10-course tasting menu per person doesn’t exactly fit nicely into a takeaway box.
“We’re offering more home style dishes like coq au vin with bread, salad and desert for $45 per person (Sid at the French Café) and elevated Indian dishes such as caramelised duck leg, roasted kumara and makhani sauce with bread, rice and dessert from Sidart, also $45 per person.
“We’ve reduced the menu but also reduced the prices during this time,” she said.
By offering delivery services, the restaurateurs were able to retain their staff by redeploying some of them as delivery drivers and they’ve even accepted the assistance of a staff member from Auckland Tourism to help with deliveries.
Although the restaurant businesses’ profits will still take a hit, partially from the inability to sell alcohol off premise, they’re able to keep all staff employed and continue to offer delicious meals.
“Keeping our staff working during lockdown is great for their mental health, as well as for the health of our boutique ‘mum and dad’ suppliers that we support,” Sahrawat says.
Les Mills: From in gym workouts to digital fitness
The closure of gyms due to Covid-19 has had a huge impact on both Les Mills Zealand which operates the gyms in New Zealand and Les Mills International which licenses exercise to music classes to 20,000 gyms in over 100 countries.
“With clubs around the world closed and instructors unable to teach classes, it has had a massive impact on our business globally,” General Counsel for Les Mills International, David Christianson, says.
However, the lockdown situation ended up being an opportunity to accelerate their digital fitness footprint.
“We had already recognised some time ago that it was important for our club customers to be able to have an offering that included in club and at home workouts. This situation has really accelerated this trend”.
“We’ve given them the option of providing their members with an extended free period of use of our subscription video on demand home exercise service LES MILLS On Demand to keep members active and engaged while they can’t make it to the club.
“We also created a series of new workouts that use royalty free music that can be live streamed through the clubs’ websites or social media without the usual music rights restrictions.
“This has helped our 20,000 club customers and 140,000 instructors around the world continue to engage with club members while they are at home,” Christianson said.
Recognising the importance of New Zealanders staying active during the lockdown, Les Mills also collaborated with TVNZ so that their workout videos could be broadcast on free to air TV.
Their innovation came fast because they had already seen the impact of Covid-19 early on due to having a business in China.
“That early insight allowed us to start planning for what might be coming and how we would have to adapt worldwide,” he said.
Yazu Hair Salon: From salon cuts to Zoom training
Hair salons have been some of the hardest hit businesses during lockdown because of the physical nature of their services.
But some salons, like Yazu in Christchurch, adapted during the pandemic to retrain staff and sell hair products online.
“We couldn’t all come into work at the salon, so we set up education seminars via Zoom and our trainees used mannequin heads at home to be trained in colour and cutting techniques,” Yazu owner Kaye Briden said.
The salon also innovated their online presence to start selling hair products online during Level 3, which their staff now deliver.
Briden, who has been a Westpac business customer for 30 years, also now uses Zoom for online mentoring and coaching twice a week with her staff.
“Keeping up that coaching online has created a support network for us all and helps us to be kind to ourselves,” she said.,
"We take the approach that there will be new opportunities through this environment and have been looking at how we can recreate our environment so that it’s safe for our clients, while still luxurious.
"We will have new safety procedures for close contact appointments and continue selling products online.
“We’ve also been giving advice over the phone to clients, for example if they’ve had scalp problems - stress can cause flakey scalp,” she said.
Hair salons will reopen in Level 2.