Pandemic pivot: how 3 businesses are responding to COVID-19

5 min read
Cate Barker

It’s no secret that the shutdown necessitated by COVID-19 has taken its toll on local businesses. However, some local business owners have been able to adapt their offerings to the strange new reality. Here are three who used GoDaddy’s tools and services to keep going during the crisis.

Related: Small business guide to surviving the global economic crisis

The Party People

The Party People, a party supply store located in Sydney’s South, has seen a lot in their 30+ years in business. The pandemic was a new one. Although the store is open, “sales are down 85% at the moment,” says co-owner Dean Salakas.

“With coronavirus, I feel like we struggled more than usual to be agile because there’s so much uncertainty.”

Mindful of the government’s social distancing guidelines which make big public gatherings a no-no, The Party People launched a Coronavirus Survival page on their website to respond to the sudden change in customers’ needs.

Pandemic Pivot The Party People

The page features three categories, two of which might surprise you:

  • Coronavirus safety & hygiene
  • Things to do at home
  • Baking

The staff came up with these categories after watching what people have been buying since the coronavirus struck. Tracking shopper behaviour also led Dean to add hand sanitiser and masks to his lineup — an unlikely offering for a party supplier. Thanks to a good relationship with a supplier, Dean is able to get a regular supply of both to sell, which has helped the store’s bottom line.

“It’s going really, really well and it’s making up some of the sales we’ve lost.”

His advice to other small businesses during this difficult time? “Listen to your customers and adapt your business accordingly. We built our survival section based on nothing other than customers coming in and picking stuff up. I didn’t know we were selling baking items until the staff noticed a pattern.”

By talking to customers and asking what they need, says Dean, you can adjust your offerings to meet them. And maybe even open a brand new revenue stream.

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Gertie’s Restaurant

Like most restaurants right now, Gerties’ Restaurant in New Farm, Brisbane is closed for in-house dining.

“Before this, we were doing really well,” says owner Edwin Chocop. “Business is usually very strong in March and April, but then suddenly we had so many cancellations and had to close up.”

As a result, Edward has had to lay off staff, while trying to continue supporting those employees who have no other means of support. That’s when he got creative.

Gertie’s started offering daily takeout deals that include an entree and a signature cocktail.

Pandemic Pivot Gertie’s Restaurant

Edward posts the deal of the day on social media, with a link to their website where customers can place orders.

The strategy has a double benefit. It not only avoids stock going to waste, but it helps the back pocket of Edward’s struggling customer base. “People within the community are having trouble — they have no income, they’ve lost their jobs, so offering a deal helps them and helps us.”

And by sending customers to their website to order and handling their own delivery, Gertie’s doesn’t have to pay commissions to delivery services which can be as high as 35%.

Fifty percent of Edwin's takeaway orders come from long-time patrons.

Some of his regulars call and place their dinner orders as they head out to walk the dog. When they stop by the restaurant 15 minutes later, their food is ready to go.

And the other 50%? All NEW customers — which is amazing, all things considered. While they’re not over the hump yet, they’re moving in the right direction. “Each week it’s improving,” says Edward.

Artist Donna Gibb

Queensland artist Donna Gibb has something to thank the coronavirus for — after all, it prompted her to launch her fourth business.

The first three include:

“I was about to revamp the entire wedding painting website,” says Donna, “and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit — essentially crushing the wedding industry overnight.”

”This gave me a kick up the backside to launch my art classes online, and quickly, using GoDaddy.”

Donna says she’s been thinking about this idea for awhile — in fact, she registered three years ago. (Not sure what a domain name is? Read this.)

But it wasn’t until the pandemic shut down her in-person events that she actually started offering online classes. Art Class Online with Donna Gibb offers webinars, Zoom workshops and one-on-one virtual sessions.

Pandemic Pivot Donna Gibb Artist

“Of course it’s been challenging and frustrating at times,” admits Donna, “but in the last few weeks I’ve had some really beautiful experiences in adapting the way I work.”

For example, Donna taught an entire art class from her balcony with kids across the road who joined in from their balconies. She followed this up with a class for their parents over the Easter long weekend — only this one included wine.

As for advice, Donna suggests we embrace change and try to make lemonade out of lemons where we can.

“Last week, I did a Zoom class online with my oldest student, Arthur,” she says. “If an 85-year-old can do this and adapt to change, everybody can.”

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