This story told by Bernadette Taggio was published on the ProctorGallagherInstitute website in English.
I translated it in French and add it for you because I think it’s a very nice story.
I also think this kind of story can help you understand how to integrate the fundamental laws of personal development into your personal or professional life.
Here’s the story below:
Running a small business in 2020 is DIFFICILE.
Running a small retail business in 2020 is much more difficult. And running a small service business in 2020 may seem IMPOSSIBLE.
My mother and I own and manage King’s Crown, a men’s care company in Toronto. We offer men a selection of internationally sourced skin and wellness products in our studio and on our website.
Our website was launched in 2014, and our first treatment salon, which offers everything from haircuts and beard care to hand and foot care, opened in the prestigious Bayview Village in October 2015.
Like any small business, we fought for what we had, doing our best with every interaction with the customer. We had a few bumps and bruises along the way, but, for the most part, we won!
Then, in November 2019, we opened our second studio on the 5th floor of the Hudson’s Bay flagship store on Queen Street. We had two studios and an online business.
We were growing!
But by early March 2020, the writings were on the wall: COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, and it could be deadly.
On March 16, before the government’s closure order, my mother and I made one of the most difficult decisions to date. We had to temporarily close the studios.
Could our competition intervene and take our customers? Perhaps. Could we lose a lot of business? Of course. At the end of the day, we knew that to protect our employees and customers, it was the responsible decision to make.
With a heavy heart, we have laid off all our employees. We helped them apply for the necessary government programs and supported them in every way possible, including covering 100% of their health benefits and writing letters to their landlords to help them apply for a rent reduction. We stayed in touch and made ourselves available to support them and their families.
On March 19, both studios were closed and we had no idea what was coming. At first we thought it would be for a few weeks, and then we could reopen everything. But at the end of the week, we knew it was much bigger than we had imagined.
We continued to communicate with our customers via email, phone and SMS. We were trying to keep everyone informed and see if they needed help.
Customers told us they needed hand sanitizer and disposable gloves to keep them and their families safe. As these products were already basic items in the studios, we knew where to find them. We called our suppliers and made sure that these products came from.
We put the products on our website and started emailing our customers to let them know what was available. We sold one-litre hand sanitizer bottles, disposable gloves and masks online and shipped them all.
We attached a handwritten note to each order thanking our customers for their support. We also included free samples of other products they might like, to see a smile on their faces amid the chaos.
There was a bit of money coming in, but nothing compared to what we used to do. Our commercial rent (not to mention other expenses) was on the horizon, and our employees were still laid off.
At night we had tried to find out what we could do to survive – we were in survival mode, and it wasn’t fun. Between online orders and the preparation of the opening of the studios, we worked harder than ever, with little efficiency.
In June, after three months of closure, we were finally given the “green light” to open our doors, and we did! We rehired everyone and worked harder than ever, disinfecting surfaces every 15 minutes, and before and after each customer.
The service areas were either six feet apart or we had custom partitions to divide stations that could not be separated. We ordered disposable capes and made sure every customer had a new one. The price of gallons of alcohol (a common disinfectant) had more than doubled, and we were using hand sanitizer more than ever. The cost of doing business had skyrocketed.
After about three weeks, business fell. Customers did not come as often, as many still did not go to the office. We were open, but we were still in survival mode, with no end in sight.
After another discussion about “what are we going to do,” my mother had an idea: why not call Bob Proctor to see what he has to say?
Bob was one of our long-time and much-loved customers. I was already in contact with him to organize and reorganize his haircut, making sure he had a reserved place as soon as we could open. So I called Bob with a little request: I’m having trouble and I need help, can we meet?
To my surprise, Bob agreed. He graciously gave me an hour of his time. Bob’s reaction was simple: you draw what you focus on. Find the bright side and focus on it.
At first, it seemed crazy. There was nothing good that came from COVID-19- NOTHING!
However, on reflection, I began to find several gold nuggets in my situation.
To name a few, I was able to have dinner with my partner every night – a luxury I had only once or twice a week before. This allowed me to focus on e-commerce and relaunch it. We have reduced all our expenses and found new and innovative ways to save money.
This fight is not over, but by taking control of my thoughts and focusing on positive things, it helped me to “overcome the storm” and stress!
We are grateful to Bob and our employees for maintaining their trust in us and all the customers who have shown us immeasurable support by “small business” and supporting local businesses. We pay and do the same, choosing to spend our money with local businesses that feed and build our community.
What I am sure of is that it will pass, too, and I will be stronger because of that. I will always remember the power of good mentors, positive thinking and, of course, the scratches and bruises that allowed me to open up and learn valuable life lessons along the way.
What did you do during the COVID-19 period?
Have you been able to see the positive side and focus on it?