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 Luke Newman, operations manager at Dracula’s, about how their business adapted to not only survive, but thrive!
As a business owner, what was the biggest challenge COVID-19 threw your way?
Apart from the obvious financial challenges, I think the biggest challenge has been not having all the answers all of the time. With the rate at which things have been changing, we’ve had to work diligently to ensure we are up to date so that we are in a position to inform our staff and customers, and answer their questions as they arise. Dracula’s has been running for four decades, so it’s rare to come across a situation like this that we haven’t dealt with in some way or another over that time.
What was your biggest learning through it all?
Communication is key. I was shocked with the number of suppliers, customers and staff members who came back to us with thanks for the way we have been keeping them updated throughout this time. With social media and the speed at which the news cycle moves, it can be hard to keep track of how everything affects you. We aimed to provide succinct, clear information as it applied to anyone affected by our suspension of performances.
What is one way your business got creative in order to survive (and hopefully thrive!) during COVID-19?
We do almost everything in-house, and designing and creating the costumes that our cast members wear on stage is one of those things. So, our talented seamstresses got creative and designed some washable cloth face masks. They are being sold on our online store shopofhorror.com.au and have been really popular, especially as we come out of full lockdown conditions! We’ve also taken this time to do a lot of venue maintenance and upgrades which would normally be impossible with our regular show schedule.
How have the past few months changed your business strategy moving forward?
Having our entire operation paused for such a long time has really given us an opportunity to look at what we do, focus on what we’re happy with, and identify areas where we would like to see improvement. In terms of the year ahead…there have had to be some pretty major adjustments to the calendar, and that’s just something that is out of our control! We’re looking at some exciting projects for 2021, and that’s really keeping us motivated at the moment.
What does your new normal look like?
Part of our new normal is ticking all the COVID Safe boxes, while maintaining the full Dracula’s experience. Until the borders re-open, and we start to see some tourists coming back in, we’ll be relying solely on locals. So, if you’ve missed a celebration over lock-down, or haven’t been to Drac’s for a while…what are you waiting for!? Drac’s is Back from July 10th 2020!