Over 200 of our management consultants have offered to support small businesses (especially those hit hard by COVID-19) in the following ways:
- Improved cash flow forecasting
- Retail store reopening planning
- Review of operating procedures
- Shift to e-commerce friendly business model
- Communications planning
- Grant / loan applications
- Any other way we can be of help!
More information on pandemic best practices
Annette Stanley and Diaz * Schloss
One of the first COVID-related requests Umbrex received came in mid-March from Karen Schloss, owner of Diaz * Schloss Communications. Karen’s firm handles public relations for the food, beverage and hospitality industries, which were undoubtedly hit hard by the pandemic. By March, her business had already slowed dramatically, despite the fact that bills were continuing to pile up, and she needed help re-energizing her offerings and cash flows.
Umbrex matched Karen with Annette Stanley, Principal at Gaillard Consulting, knowing that she would be both an expert in planning strategic responses, as well as a sounding board for Karen during this tough time for her business. The two jumped on a call in late March and quickly identified her biggest challenges: retaining clients and maintaining staff levels. Because Diaz * Schloss Communications had recently experienced a decrease in billable work, and did not anticipate a return to normalcy in the immediate future, Annette knew that the key to business survival was to focus on Diaz * Schloss Communications’ existing clients. Annette partnered with Karen to devise a clear and actionable strategy for the path forward.
The strategy consisted of the following elements:
- Reach out to current and former clients to offer pro-bono and/or reduced fee services
- Reach out to clients in adjacent industries outside of Diaz * Schloss Communications traditional client demographic
- Consider negotiating with clients to exchange goods and services in lieu of payment
- Continue creating content for the local newspaper to bolster the Diaz * Schloss Communications brand image as an industry thought-leader
- Develop a calendar and establish a cadence for client engagement
Over the next several weeks, Annette and Karen spoke regularly, checking in on the health of the business and continuing the conversation on new and evolving challenges. Diaz * Schloss Communications slowly began to rebuild — first with pro bono work, then with alternative payment options, and eventually with billable client work.
Annette has never been happier to push a call than when Karen asked to postpone their fifth meeting – Karen was just too busy with work.
Mike Wittenstein and Morris Brothers
Morris Brothers, a family-owned graphics and signage company, reached out to Umbrex for pro-bono advising, hoping to re-examine their business model and adapt to the changing environment. With COVID wreaking havoc on the event industry, Morris Brothers was struggling to keep their corporate events and trade shows business afloat and were, therefore, eager to redirect their services and products to the online sales market. Although they expected competition from larger players, they knew that they could differentiate themselves by providing the same product, but with the assistance of experienced and qualified personnel.
Umbrex paired Morris Brothers with Mike Wittenstein, whose independent consulting firm, Storyminers, specializes in repurposing existing content to add revenue streams, identifying valuable market segments, and highlighting value propositions to customers. Mike virtually met with the team to explore alternative product offerings and markets. Through their discussions, Mike helped Morris Brothers that they needed to be selling experiences, not just signs. He helped identify opportunities where Morris Brothers could better serve the community, ultimately landing on the burgeoning market of personal milestone signage, such as birthday, graduation, and other celebration signs.
With Morris Brothers’ strong expertise in the field, they could act as advisors and consultants to their clients, setting them apart from some of the larger players in the industry. The team developed an action plan to better understand this new customer segment, ultimately emerging with prototypes and a game plan for quickly entering the market. Together, Morris Brothers and Mike Wittenstein found a way to turn COVID-19 from a challenge into an opportunity.