There’s nothing like a global pandemic to change life as we know it, eh? But while social distancing meant simply staying inside for many of us, small business owners were faced with a tremendous challenge: how to continue “business as usual” through highly unusual circumstances.
We chatted to Judy Friedman, owner of BrickResales, about how her business adapted to not only survive, but thrive!
As a business owner, what was the biggest challenge COVID-19 threw your way?
The challenges have been huge and they certainly aren’t over. Before, our business mostly centred on public events selling pre-loved LEGO, so we have had to move from being a public events-based business to 100% online. The challenges have been letting go of old ways and being totally open to new ideas and systems. Then, of course, the busier we have become, the more new staff we have to train. As we are all learning together, it’s important to listen to everyone and consider everything suggested and shown.
What was your biggest learning through it all?
We had an existing online store that kind of floated along nicely in the background with little or no changes or maintenance required. Now we are all trained in (though still learning) all the back doors of our new life in e-commerce. Asking lots of questions, making loads of changes and listening to our customers has been massive. There is work to be done almost daily. We also listen carefully to our agencies like our social media and publicity team, our accountants, bookkeeper and advertising agency because we know they know their stuff better than us.
What is one way your business got creative in order to survive (and hopefully thrive!) during COVID-19?
The buzz word right now is PIVOT, and we have certainly lived up to this! We have gone from focusing 99% on public events to 100% online “virtual events” and daily sales.
How have the past few months changed your business strategy moving forward?
Everything has changed. We have to look at everything differently, and like I mentioned before, being open to change from the way we used to do things has been so important. The products are now being put together to be appealing online, as opposed to our customers coming along to our events and choosing every LEGO piece themselves. We still want to retire one day though, haha!
What does your new normal look like?
Normal ATM involves lots of time looking after our website and sitting behind a desk. We have two full timers constantly updating as our items (which are mostly one-offs) sell out quickly. We now photograph EVERYTHING and list it all online, so there are a lot more hours involved – then of course packaging orders at 2pm every day, which means all hands on deck. Our LEGO Team in our Operations Department are now focused on groups of items whereas before, they just needed to focus on one or two jobs at a time. We are needing much more from them, and again, it can change on a daily basis according to what sells quickly on our website. We used to finish around 1pm every day, and now we are working much longer hours – which is also fun and fabulous! All in all, we continue to do one thing and focus on doing it well.