How COVID-19 Caused Record Breaking Sales for a Company…and Then Brought It to Its Knees: A Tragic Lesson in Business Continuity Planning

With the COVID-19 pandemic, business continuity is top of mind. But when we think of “business continuity,” we relate it to how we prepare to continue doing business during or after a disaster of some type, like a hurricane or power outage. This is a story that shines a light on another reason we all need a good business continuity plan: continuing to do business when something good happens. Confused? Read on…

Like most people these days, I’ve been looking for ways to increase my physical activity and spend more time outdoors to prevent cabin fever. So, I used COVID-19 as an excuse to finally buy the beach cruiser I’ve always wanted. Yes, one of those colorful bicycles with balloon tires and a basket that hangs from the handlebars. (Don’t judge. I’m not athletic.)AKA Business Continuity Planning

Everyone else must have had the same idea because I could not find a single bicycle, new or used, to purchase from the typical outlets. (Drat!)  Determined and persistent with my search, I found a manufacturer with hundreds of great reviews that sells direct to consumers through their website – and my favorite color (teal, if you’re wondering) was still in stock! Sweet!

I was even happier to learn that the bicycles are made in the USA by a small company with an inspiring back story.  It started in 2005 from the CEO’s garage before moving to a warehouse in Torrance, California. Since then, the company has grown to 40+ employees and approximately $8 million in revenue.

Supporting a smaller domestic business made it easy to justify my less than essential purchase. I couldn’t place my order quickly enough.  According to the website, I’d be sporting my new ride in 7 days.

Still waiting

Fast forward 4 weeks … and I haven’t received my bicycle. ☹  I am aware that COVID-19 has caused all sorts of operations to slow down dramatically, and I understand why, but I expected to have received a shipping notification by now because I ordered an in-stock item. The site had explained: “Standard orders generally ship within five business days, and in most cases, you will receive your order in about one week.”

So, I emailed an inquiry to customer service.  The auto-reply I received was both impressive and sad. It was a lengthy and very apologetic message from the CEO that explained:

  • Their customer service resources are completely overwhelmed and can no longer keep up with the volume of incoming emails, which has increased 300 percent, from 200 to 800 per day.
  • Replies to customers with orders have been prioritized but are AT LEAST FIVE OR MORE BUSINESS DAYS behind. Yes, days – not hours.
  • They have hired additional staff, but they cannot scale fast enough to meet the unexpected demand.
  • Their 15-year-old inventory system failed, causing them to sell inventory that was out of stock.
  • They stopped accepting new orders on April 17th so they can fulfill existing orders and do not expect to resume new sales until at least May 1st.
  • They hope to re-open the phone lines and re-open the site for business one day soon, but not until they can provide the exceptional, individualized service customers deserve.

Whoa…what a business dream come true and a nightmare all rolled into one!  I can picture the staff popping champagne bottles when the orders started to roll in. Now, they must be ripping their hair out, wondering how much damage will be caused by the inventory, staffing, and customer services issues. 

Can you imagine having to TURN AWAY SALES FOR WEEKS during what could be the best year in your company’s history—especially during a time when many businesses are experiencing the opposite??

What could have made the difference: a scalable CRM and ERP platform to support business continuity

Sure, I’m disappointed that I might never receive my bike. But more than anything, I feel bad for the business.  Instead of being angry like some customers might be, I want to help them.  With 30+ years of expertise in implementing CRM and ERP solutions, I know AKA Enterprise Solutions could get them back on track and ensure a tragedy like this never happens again. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like they could take our call right now, even if they wanted to.

This is a prime example of how important it is to ensure business continuity–that your company is equipped to not only survive tough times but also thrive during the good times, too.  With the right CRM and ERP systems in place – a scalable cloud solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 – you’ll be prepared for wherever your business takes you.

COVID-19 is a smack-in-the-face reminder of how unpredictable business can be. Contact us for help with a business continuity plan that will empower you to capitalize on business spikes AND weather the downturns.

Not convinced now is a good time to start a project or need help justifying the investment? Read 3 Reasons Why the COVID-19 Era is the Best Time to Move Forward with Your CRM Software Project

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Contributor: Amy Spencer

Amy leads the marketing team that is responsible for go-to-market strategies, messaging, and demand generation for AKA’s financial services and life sciences practices, as well as the company’s cross-industry offerings. She is also responsible for the processes and systems, such as marketing automation and CRM, that the team employs to align marketing with sales for a greater impact. Amy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from The College of New Jersey and has 25+ years of experience driving the marketing strategy and execution for technology and professional services firms.

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