We may not have seen the pandemic coming, but it’s safe to say businesses worldwide rose to the many challenges it presented — the Fergus Falls business community included! From implementing online ordering and curbside pickup to drive-through meal services, the Greater Fergus Falls team was proud to watch local businesses pivot in the face of uncertainty.
Although we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, many of us are starting to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Now that the dust has begun to settle, Greater Fergus Falls is taking a step back to examine how the pandemic has changed the way businesses operate.
Keep reading for three major changes companies are implementing.
More Businesses are Prioritizing Sustainable Growth
When it comes to success indicators in business, growth tends to rank pretty high. After all, achieving long-term growth is a goal many businesses have. That hasn’t changed, of course, but companies have begun to re-evaluate how they accomplish that growth.
Before the pandemic, many businesses prioritized growth over everything else. So much so that they were willing to pay up to five times more on new customer acquisition than customer retention. “The problem with this mentality is that it leaves you vulnerable to big changes in the market (like a once in a lifetime pandemic),” says Inc.com contributor, Heidi Zak.
Now businesses are refocusing their efforts on sustainable growth practices that increase both profitability and longevity of the company.
“The goal, especially right now, isn’t to maximize growth rate, as much as it is to ensure the business is still alive and well a year from now,” notes Zak.
One of the easiest ways to do that is to utilize the untapped potential that an existing customer base has to offer. Focusing on customer retention strategies reduces profit margins and builds loyal customers.
A Greater Focus on Digital
Consumers were unable to shop in person for much of the pandemic, so they relied on online channels more than ever before. The higher demand for online solutions meant companies had to adopt new digital technologies quickly.
Businesses found themselves turning to technology to help them market and sell their products and services and engage with their customers. From brick-and-mortar stores setting up online shops to virtual doctor’s appointments, most industries found a way to adapt to the time. That said, digital transformations weren’t only necessary for customer-facing operations. Adopting technology like Zoom, Microsoft Office, and Slack also made it possible for employees to communicate and work collaboratively from home.
Even as we come out the other side of the pandemic, businesses will likely continue to prioritize digital strategies going forward. Businesses are placing more value on digital marketing, in particular, to increase sales, create brand awareness, and build customer loyalty.
Remote Work is Becoming More Common
Stay-at-home orders resulted in a widespread experiment in remote working. To the surprise of many, the shift to telecommuting yielded positive results for many companies. A recent survey by PWC, revealed that 83% of employers believe the transition to remote work has been successful for their business, with more than half reporting improved employee productivity.
“Some people may never go back,” says Jason Thomas, the managing director and head of research at the Carlyle Group. “In the future, work arrangements will be optimized based on what works best for the employees and the business rather than the expectations that have been inherited from a different time.”
With the ability to work anywhere with an internet connection, employees are no longer confined to living where they work. This renewed sense of freedom has contributed greatly to the rural rebound we’re seeing in the region. Workers who want to achieve a better work-life balance are looking to rural areas that offer a more laid-back lifestyle and better quality of life.
Remote work doesn’t just benefit employees, though. In addition to spikes in employee productivity, companies that offer remote work have an easier time with employee recruitment and retention. A shift to a fully remote or hybrid workforce can also increase a company’s bottom line. According to Global Workplace Analytics, “employers can save an average of $11k/year for each halftime remote worker.” Those savings can then be earmarked for things that contribute to growth, such as workforce training opportunities, recruitment efforts, and marketing campaigns.
While these are significant changes, it’s very likely the business landscape will continue to evolve as things get back to normal. If you have any questions or need some business support, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Greater Fergus Falls team!