6 deft business pivots inspired by Covid-19

The novel coronavirus is associated with grim tidings. No doubt, the crisis has disrupted businesses in an unprecedented manner but there are many bright spots; instances of gutsy pivots and smart business ideas that have won despite Covid-19 limitations.

These are stories of entrepreneurs who have embraced change and pivoted by developing new business models which are low cost, adhere to the current limitations and most importantly serve customer needs. And in doing so, not only have they become profitable today but also laid the foundation for a prosperous future.

Vending machines are back in style

Like most functional restaurants, Cheryl Wakerhauser, owner of Pix Patisserie in Portland shifted to takeout-only mode post-Covid. The switch kept the business running, but blocked Cheryl’s creative skills as a chef. So, she introduced a vending machine that gave her the freedom to present her dishes with a creative twist. Placed outside her restaurant, the vending machine serves customers 24/7 and accepts only card payments. This simple idea increased Cheryl’s profits above pre-Covid levels. Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, opening soon in Manhattan’s East Village, takes the vending machine experience a notch higher with touchless kiosks assisted by a PPE-clad attendant, placed inside a brick-and-mortar shop.

Reviving fitness with social distancing

Gyms and fitness studios were shut down post-Covid. In Toronto and California all it took was some plastic domes and pods to restart the enterprise. In Toronto, few independent instructors and six yoga studios pulled up a pop-up event organized by LMNTS Outdoor Studio where customers paid $25 per head to work out as a group at an urban park inside individual plastic domes roomy enough for a human. South Bay Fitness, in California placed customers in pods propped up with a metal frame-work and plastic shower curtains. They also offer classes via Zoom to cater to a larger audience.

Mobile Bars and Inner-Tube Pubs

In New Zealand, the pub on wheels, although a publicity experience was a great hit that sold out all its 27-min reservation slots, traversing approximately 900 miles in the summer months of June-July. The toolshed sized tiny pub allowed only 2 people at a time. Fish Tales restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland introduced donut shaped inner-tube tables on wheels with a hole. Patrons, having to stand inside the hole can move around with the table and the 6 feet distance is automatically maintained all the time.

Movies on boat

Drive-in movies are already a passé. Boat-in movies are scheduled to debut in 16 US cities through September. Beyond Cinema, an Australian company will offer “Floating Boat Cinema” to patrons in 12-24 boats, each of which can accommodate a party of 2-8 guests.

Drive-in Concerts

Promised as “Safe & Sound”, the July event held in Hamptons, accommodated 500 cars with tickets priced from $1000 to $25000. The prime idea of the event was to organize a public gathering while following social distancing norms. David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs performed in his DJ avatar, however, the show got negative publicity as concertgoers failed to abide by the rules properly. Upcoming concerts, for now, have thus been put on hold.

Professional services hit the road

Henry the Dentist, a mobile dental practice in New Providence, New Jersey, operates a fleet of 8 luxury dentistry vehicles along with one brick-and-mortar practice. Appointment bookings of the company in the past 3 months have increased by 31% as compared to the same period last year. Sperling Dermatology, in Florham Park, New Jersey made their business mobile in mid-June, in a 24-foot-long Mercedes. Complementing three traditional outlets, the mobile unit alone earned a revenue of $500,000 in the month of July.

Evident in all the 6 stories above, every business pivot is about agility and flexibility. To scale success companies must understand – to flourish in the new normal, quarter plans are their new annual plans. They must think about meeting the present demand with a long-term view and never hesitate to experiment and take calculated risks.

This article is an abridged version of an article by Joe Bargmann, which can be read in full here.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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