British Columbia

Some businesses find ways to thrive as COVID-19 forces them to change their business models

Some businesses have been more successful than others finding ways with new business practices to maintain the same level of success they did pre-pandemic. 

Changing menu, offering customized service helping Kelowna businesses maintain profit

Nikki Hunter's shop, The Green Vanity, is closed, but she's using it as a warehouse while she continues to run her business online. (Nikki Hunter)

Businesses around the world have found ways to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic and new health guidelines for keeping patrons safe, but many aren't able to maintain the same level of revenue as they did pre-pandemic. 

Some business owners, however, have found ways to maintain the same level of success with new business practices. 

Ross Derrick, owner of The Table Café at Codfathers Market in Kelowna, B.C., is one of them. 

When the pandemic hit in March, he switched to takeout only, and his revenue dropped by 40 per cent, which he says in the restaurant business, is dire. 

He was losing revenue on high profit items like alcohol sales and lobster. But his fish and chips and fish tacos were still popular, so he started using those as a promotion to bring in new customers. He ran a campaign so people could buy themselves a meal and buy a meal for a health-care worker for $18.

"We don't make any money off of it, but it actually started bringing people in the door," he told Daybreak South host Chris Walker. 

Now, most of his customers are buying from the restaurant for the first time, which is helping him broaden his customer base.

The newfound popularity of those types of takeout meals over lobster and mussels meant he also had to switch up kitchen equipment. He did a $5,000 kitchen renovation so his staff would have what they needed to meet the demand. 

All those changes meant April's revenue was on par with what he did last year. 

"I think [that's] a raging success considering everything that happened last month," he said.

Switching to multiple virtual platforms

Like Derrick, Nikki Hunter had to make some changes to her business, the Green Vanity, in order to stay afloat. Not only has she stayed afloat — she's maintained the same level of sales that she did compared to spring of last year. 

Her shop, which specializes in holistic beauty experiences and retail products, relies on people coming in to talk to staff about their needs. 

As things began to close down, she quickly switched her business to primarily online. She did run an online shop before the pandemic, but she said it accounted for about five per cent of her revenue. Now, it's her priority. 

"There's so many wonderful platforms out there for people to pivot and use and I've just been dabbling with whatever works for my clients," Hunter said. She's been using Facebook, Instagram, email newsletters, phone calls and video chats to connect with customers. 

She credits her approach to business for her success — she says she doesn't oversell to people and wants to make sure they're buying products they actually need and that align with their values. 

"We're making change now. We're learning to do things in a different way and building that trust," she said.

With files from Daybreak South and Christine Coulter

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