With non-essential businesses ordered to cease operations under the Movement Control Order, it’s been one of the toughest times if not the biggest challenge for most companies. The situation has forced businesses to pivot and adopt new strategies almost overnight. We speak to a few friends of Prestige about how they’ve shifted business models and the impact it has created.
Alex Toh, Executive Director of China Pottery
As business owners, we are all facing the same situation together. Nobody is spared from this crisis because we are all interconnected in a globalised economy. At this moment, it is very important to stay calm so that we do not cause further panic to the market. It is also important to constantly update ourselves with latest news to plan for the next course of action.
Protecting human resources is an investment as your employees are the most valuable asset in the company. If you downsize now and things return to normal in a few weeks, you’ll be wasting time recruiting and training new employees instead of focusing on sales recovery.
I’m glad that China Pottery has a lean, committed and dynamic workforce that is flexible and easily adaptable to change.
Our team is working remotely from home as we are broadening the scope of our e-commerce channel, because we anticipate the consumer behaviour shifting to an online market. We think it’s better to be transparent with the situation as most of them are very aware that businesses are struggling and suffering losses. With our suppliers and customers, we’re using this opportunity to offer our assistance.
From a business perspective, things will be ugly in the short term as we can expect the economy to recover slowly, with an increase in the rate of unemployment that might also lead to other social problems. Ultimately it’s time for us to look into restructuring internal systems, straighten value chains, adopt new technologies, and review all cost control measures to reinvent ourselves and prepare for the future. When the sky is clear again, we will come out of a stronger team than we were before.
Sandy Tan, Chief Executive Officer of Optimax Eye Specialist
Covid-19 has really changed the way we live. From social distancing to working from home, hygiene practices and public sanitisation to the highest level. As a healthcare provider, we are activating our group’s sustainable crisis management plans which include medical professional and staff rotation at all our outlets. At our headquarters, we have split our support staff to groups and we work on rotation as well so that we have minimal staff on site, while the rest work from home to support the operation.
We have urged our staff and stakeholders to have minimal contact with each other and carry out all necessary communication via emails, while meetings are held over video conferencing.
With our patients, we have a strict policy of checking and recording their movements for the last three weeks, as well as their health condition, before allowing them to have a consultation with our nurses and doctors. We’re also working on video consultations for less severe patient cases.
Kuhan Pathy, Co-founder of Masala Wheels
The Movement Control Order has affected Masala Wheels’ revenue, but we have taken two steps to improve. The first step actually began early this year when we began to move towards technology, so most of our food orders have been coming in online through GrabFood, Foodpanda, Oddle, and even StoreHub. Doing so has helped us cushion the impact of the MCO.
The second step is an initiative called ‘Food Without Borders’. Our priority is to keep delivering meals to our beneficiaries which include hospital frontlines, refugee communities, urban poor homes, welfare homes and enforcement officers, while also paying our staffs’ salaries. Our staff comprise of youth at risk and by pricing each meal at MYR5, we’re able to keep them with us so they do not fall back into social ill traps. Food Without Borders started with 240 meals raised and today it stands at about 8,900 meals. It’s a charity within a charity that allows Masala Wheels to stay afloat as a social enterprise.
Aaron Patel, Founder of iHandal
The core of our business is building and delivering physical products and solutions. When the Movement Control Order was announced, it came as a surprise to us and brought all our operations to a halt. Moreover, as a bulk of our projects are regional, teams had to be pulled back as other countries were imposing their own lockdowns too.
It was a steep learning curve getting our teams prepared to work productively from home, to be able to add value and help us make the best of the time given. Right now what we are focusing on is improving our products and processes, up-skilling ourselves, and dresses the changing needs of our clients — all while adapting to work in the “new normal”. We believe there will be an increased demand for solutions like ours as businesses focus on survival and recovery first, by reducing their costs. We plan to be ready to help them.