Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Part 2 - Looking at the Brighter Side of a World-Wide Pandemic!

Recently, I posted Part 1 of my "Looking at the Brighter Side of a World-Wide Pandemic" blog. In this post I asked Alberto Nava, of Crazy Balloons, Chris Adamo of The Balloon Crew, Balloons Online and BalloonPro.co and to Greg Brown of BMTV, Balloon Market, and Signature Balloons to share one or two positive things that they have been able to bring to their businesses as a result of the pandemic. 

In Part 2, we visited three more balloon businesses, Luiz Carlos Da Costa Silva of Cenário Balões in São Paulo, Brazil, Adrain How of Give Fun in Singapore, and Joette Meyers Giardina of Balloon Coach and Party People Events, in Florida, USA.


Beautiful Personalised Balloons by Cenário Balões, 
 São Paulo, Brazil. 

Let's visit Brazil, where Luiz Carlos, addresses the changes that they have made to their business and business life as a result of the pandemic:

"2020 was a challenging year for all of us. It brought us many problems, but also new opportunities in the world of balloons. During this period, we noticed a huge increase in new entrepreneurs in the balloon market. At the same time, new customers have discovered the possibility of gifting and celebrating balloons. New niche markets have been discovered or rediscovered. We realized that the demand was very high, exactly in the hardest period of the pandemic. For us, especially, the pandemic was the trigger for making a planned decision a few years ago: Reinforce the performance in our balloon boutique and enter definitively for the distribution of Qualatex balloons in Brazil, taking advantage of the growing market. Finally, after 18 years, we made the difficult decision to stop decorating at parties and events. From now on, we will have more time for a well-deserved family break, but also to dedicate ourselves a little more to travel and share some of our experience with other professionals around the world. New times, new challenges. Let 2021 come! We leave it here, our wish for a world free of “COVID 19” and much success to all balloon artists on the planet!" - Luiz Carlos

Luiz Carlos Da Costa Silva

And now to Singapore, where Adrian How of Give Fun, in Singapore gives us an insight to business life during the pandemic.




"2020, what a year! A year where we all faced unprecedented setbacks, learning and re-learning, re-evaluating our priorities in life and business, appreciating the importance of togetherness while braving through the storm. While we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (COVID-19 vaccine has finally been developed and will soon be made available to everyone. Hurray!), what we have learned by persevering through hard times is definitely the highlight of the year for the business and myself.

We are working on Give Fun’s expansion project in Malaysia pre COVID-19 times. Due to the Circuit Breaker (a nationwide partial lockdown initiative by Singapore to contain Covid-19) and border control between Singapore and Malaysia, we were forced to choose a country to be ‘locked down’ and we chose Malaysia. That decision costs us a 10-month (and counting) separation from our business. We’ve clearly underestimated the damage Covid-19 can bring. The first few weeks were painful; when we temporarily shut our business down, worked out our finances, planned resources during downtime and many more things that we don’t usually worry about suddenly become ever-so-important. As much as I wanted to be on ground fighting the invisible battle, I found that being  physically away from the business and operation also means there’s only so much I can do. Things started to get better in the next few weeks, and the rest is history. 

Although everyone has been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic, learning to dance in the rain is probably a more sensible choice. Being separated from our business allowed me to sit down and rethink it - where we are now and where we are heading to next provided a greater clarity and understanding of the business, and it equipped us for the unexpected and plan for the next move, without distractions. Sometimes the vision is clearer when seeing things from a distance. All these may not have happened if life was ‘normal’. Well,  welcome to the new normal!  Also on another positive note, working from home for the past 10 months also means I’ve had more time to be with my children and seeing them grow, some perks that otherwise would not exist.

Besides, the pandemic also taught us to re-emphasize our roots again - to give fun. We listened to our customers, studied their needs and what they truly wanted, and spent a great amount of time in the creation process. In the span of 10 months, we’ve launched our widest Halloween and Christmas Collections. We have created an entire new product line of Balloons Centrepieces, Balloon Bouquet Boxes, Gift Baskets and more. We’re going back to our basics, to give fun and to let people spread their love and fun effortlessly, because sending love is not cancelled. These are the crops we reaped after rounds of Zoom team meetings, countless WhatsApp exchanges, discussion through phone calls & voice notes and refinements through emails. We are unable to be physically present under the new normal, but the silver lining amid the pandemic is that we can still achieve things virtually and remotely effectively. 

Design by Give Fun, Singapore

It is important to constantly look for the good things in life and be optimistic, a lot of things (and the good ones too) would not happen if life was normal. Ending the short sharing above with my favourite quote - Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning to dance in the rain" - Adrian

Our final stop of our journey is in the US, where Joette Meyers Giardina shares her story...

"In January of 2020, Party People Events was on a roll: Johnathon Gerber, CBA, had expanded his lease from 2,100 to 5,000 square feet to include a Retail Store front that was attached to his warehouse space so we could attract more local business. 
Party People Events is known best for our large installations at hotels and convention centers in Orlando about 45 minutes from our main workshop in Auburndale, Florida.

As the marketing manager, I was working 6 days a week to get the balloon shop up and running,  as well as attending chamber meetings and training staff. On March 5, we had a huge party with the Auburndale Chamber to celebrate the expansion. Then with social distancing, the team went to working from home.   

The down time in production allowed for the admin team to work on systems. Johnathon and Ginger built a new website,   http://partypeopleevents.com, that now has ordering online. It is something we had been wanting to do for a while but had not had time to do.
New customer management system, AllProWebTools is connected to our BalloonSuite.com website for the team to be able to clock in and out of work, put contacts in the system, assign account managers to customers and keep everything in one place, including staff training.
Now when I network at an event (online or in person) and have a lead, I can put the new contacts information in the system and assign to one of the team to follow up with a quote if needed.
Rather than calling the team member to see if they followed up, I can go into AllProWebtools from my phone or computer and see the emails, quotes etc between the team and client.




Johnathon then set up Task in the system so after an event books the task of creating packing list, pulling the balloons for the job etc. is all set in the system.

Having extra down time gave time to the admin team to put systems in place for growth that was always pushed to the side during the rush of being busy in production.
Our new website now has better SEO, and is all tied into the customer management program to increase efficiency and ready for the next step of growth.
I have also had the opportunity to met new people on Zoom Networking meetings that often were unable to attend many of the  face to face events.

On a personal note, I have been able to restructure my days to have more time to focus on exercise and health. Our family is in better shape than we have ever been, with the opportunity to prepare more fresh food than ever and do strength training.

As Balloon Coach I have found that there is amazing resilience in our industry. So many pivoted from large scale decor to yard art and deliveries to keep their business going. 

Where there is a will there is a way. I have seen several businesses grow and sell more than they ever have because they were able to pivot.

And other large businesses take the BREATHER and work on systems so they are ready to rise stronger than ever when it's safe for large gatherings again.

I love seeing how balloons are still being able to bring joy around the world during this wild time in our history." - Joette

 


 


This year has given so many businesses challenges that they never thought that they would encounter, and in many cases the opportunity to work on things that they never seemed to find time to do. Businesses have diversified, and made big changes to their operations, and many for the better, I suppose times like these is where the saying "every cloud has a silver lining" comes from. One thing that seems to be pretty consistent with everyone that I have spoken to is how many of us have been able to enrich our family and personal time during these crazy months, I know for sure that has been one of the biggest positives that has come out of this pandemic for me! 

My hope is that 2021 offers us all the opportunity to return to some sort of normality safely, and that our industry continues to grow and prosper in the way that it has over the past year! 

A huge thank you to all the contributors to this post, it was so enlightening to read their stories from around the globe! 

Wishing you all a very happy, safe and prosperous 2021! 

Sue
Follow me @suebowler