The corona crisis has elicited different reactions from different organisations. One could group them into three major categories – the traditional, the resilient and the innovative.
We could use the hospitality industry as an example study to understand how different organisations are coping with the reality of a shutdown.
Let us start with the most common response.
Kawaida restaurant, a regular restaurant located in down town Tom Mboya Street has been providing traditional meals to the hard working middle class in the City. It has noticed that the number of customers has dropped by eighty percent after just a few days into the crisis.
Their quick reaction is to scale down operations. They have fired all the casuals and sent eighty percent of their fulltime employees such as waiters, cooks and cleaners on unpaid leave.
This reflex action, the simplest of them all is likely to have been adopted by the large majority of the small and medium-sized enterprises, with the understanding that all employees will be recalled when the coronavirus returns to its maker.
This approach would work in the short term but may result in company extinction in the long term.
In other words, if the situation is not resolved within three to six months, the employees of the restaurant will find alternative sources of income or be poached by competing restaurants. Let’s call them Ujasiri and Ubunifu.
Ujasiri is the resilient restaurant while Ubunifu is the innovative one and are also located on Tom Mboya Street and serve the same clientele as the Kawaida
How does Ujasiri respond?
Unlike the Kawaida restaurant, it has decided to retain most of its staff despite the drop in the face-to-face customers.
To break-even, Ujasiri decided to go online and reach out to their old clients who are working from home but still miss that traditional food they used to take when working from town.
Using an online presence, Ujasiri has allowed its old customers to make and pay for their orders the previous day and with the help of some boda boda service, their orders are delivered to their doorstep.
Of course some old customers did drop off along the way, but Ujasiri is happy that new customers came on board, courtesy of their online presence and so the equation is balanced.
Ujasiri restaurant is indeed resilient and will weather the storm, irrespective of whether the virus is brought under control tomorrow, next year or beyond.
Finally, Ubunifu, the innovative restaurant has done exactly what Ujasiri has done by going online, offering home deliveries but with some extension to the offerings.
Ubunifu realised that whereas they had put their traditional menu online and their old customers were happy with that, they could also use the same channel to receive new orders that were previously not on their listing. In other words, they provided an online platform for any customer to have a wish-list of their best food items.
After a week of data collection, they analysed the wish list and realised they had sufficient interest to create a new line of food items.
Ubunifu is now re-organising its kitchen to service a new business line that was previously unknown, given their fixed, analogue methods.
As Kawaida holds its breath and faces imminent closure, Ujasiri is riding in the coronavirus wave, while Ubunifu is not only riding in it, but also smiling all the way to the bank.
After the crisis, Ubunifu will be digitally transformed and growing into a multinational entity. Ujasiri will survive but remain an SME while Kawaida will struggle for a while but eventually throw in the towel in the face of competition from the two competitors.
Which type is your enterprise?