APU Business Original

Changing Business Models during COVID-19 May Equal Survival

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The COVID-19 pandemic caught our leaders, organizations and businesses by surprise in early 2020. The impact was particularly hard for some smaller businesses. Owners and managers of these businesses came to realize that in order to survive and remain viable, certain changes to the way business was previously conducted would be necessary.

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As our country and business starts a new year in 2021 and becomes more hopeful with the rollout of numerous vaccines to combat COVID-19, it is not surprising to find that some organizations literally did have to transform into something else. Others had to provide unique services that they had never before offered, in order to survive during the pandemic that has gripped both our nation and the world.

However, Americans are resilient and innovative; they also possess a spirit of survival. To this end, many organizations have reinvented, transformed and consequently survived the pandemic.

The only way you survive is you continuously transform into something else. It’s this idea of continuous transformation that makes you an innovation company. — Ginni Rometty, business executive

How Essential Businesses Adapted to COVID-19

As the pandemic grew, essential businesses — Walmart, Kroger, Aldi, Meijer and others — began to offer both delivery services and curbside pick-up services. Now, customers can either order online via the store’s website or download and use an app to place orders and schedule pickup and delivery times.

Walmart is one organization that is always looking for opportunity. Its leaders took a look at Amazon’s business model and realized that change was needed to their e-commerce services in order to remain competitive. Now, online orders can be placed by Walmart shoppers. Customers can either have the order(s) delivered to their home or arrange a curbside pick-up time.

This move provided an edge for Walmart when Amazon was the go-to business earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, “Their investments and the commitment they’ve made to online are paying off. They’re a very strong No. 2 player to Amazon,” noted Phil Wabha in Fortune.

How Places of Worship Changed Due to COVID-19

For a period of time, most churches and other places of worship closed their doors and services were suspended. Even when services resumed, safety protocols were put in place. Attendance at most services was negatively impacted because many congregations did not yet feel comfortable returning to worship, especially those worshippers in high-risk categories.

But the creative spirit was definitely apparent as some of these religious organizations took to the airways to broadcast their message via Zoom, radio, television and other media. Drive-up worship became common; this relatively new and creative way to get the message to worshippers helped to satisfy the spiritual needs of some churchgoers.

Drive-in movie theaters became the place to meet as church members were encouraged to attend church in the parking lot of a drive-in movie theater. Perhaps this trend of outdoor worship will continue; according to pastor Bob Whitesel, “the outdoor venue allows people who are susceptible to illness to worship in a safe environment.”

How Wineries Converted to Marketing Their Wines Online

Writer Barbara Barrielle noted that online wine tastings have become popular. “Almost across the board, wineries are offering online tastings hosted by members of their staff. Sometimes, the experience is even offered with the winemaker or winery owner.”

How does this type of online wine tasting work? Wine lovers organize a party with wine-loving friends and family members. The winery provides wine-tasting kits for about $20 for two-ounce samples of five wines. It’s also an alternative way to socialize with wine-loving friends and family, learn about wine country, and taste some good wine. 

Restaurants Are Now Offering Meal-Preparation Kits and Groceries

In an Insider article, Irene Jiang mentioned that some restaurants now offer meal prep kits. She noted, “Shake Shack released a meal prep kit for its famous burger, and Chick-fil-A released its Chicken Parmesan Meal Kit nationwide.”

Since grocery stores are seen by some as places of risk, families find cooking at home the safer alternative. Meal-prep kits fill a need for individuals and families to minimize exposure.

Dog Grooming Salons Have Had to Get Creative

To keep their small businesses profitable, many dog grooming salons are offering curbside pickup. Some groomers have even had to hire an extra person to meet and greet the dogs at their cars and return them to their cars after grooming. This way, these businesses are prospering and even hiring new employees.

These businesses are just a few examples of the creative ways that organizations have discovered to remain viable during these tough economic times. They are proof that American businesses are among the most creative and most transformative organizations.

Being resilient and transformative is the nature of the business environment right now; it is a time where businesses are continually re-inventing themselves. As a consequence, some businesses’ financial results are stronger than the pre-pandemic era.

Carol Pitman is a faculty member with the School of Business. She has spent her entire career as an accounting and a human resources management team member, both at the manufacturing and the corporate level. Carol has been an adjunct faculty member since 1998.

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