When All Else Fails, Reinvent!
How do you reinvent your business in the wake of Covid-19? This critical question has kept many entrepreneurs awake at night, and it was one that coffee shop owner Adéle Smith had to answer.
Adéle owns The Daily Coffee Café in Kuils River and Willow Bridge Village in Cape Town.
“Before lockdown, the regular load shedding really affected us. Then Covid-19 came along. We saw an immediate drop in our business the day after the President’s first announcement on 15 March, even before the actual lockdown had started."
In the weeks that followed, Adéle and her husband focused their energy on resurrecting their business. “One of the advantages we had was that we have another business, ABC² Consulting, which helps companies strategise and find their purpose. We developed our own strategy in response to Covid-19. Some of the issues we looked at were: Where are we on the change curve? Are we in denial, still angry, or had we reached the acceptance stage? We also looked at our purpose and why we get up every morning. Our purpose is to create connections and bring people together through both the happy and sad moments. We are all about creating happy spaces. None of this changed, but when Covid-19 came along the way in which we did this had to change,” says Adéle.
Finding purpose in tragedy
Going through the process of figuring out how to resurrect their business, which was dependent on customers walking through the door to order coffee, was no easy task. “My mother-in law passed away the day after lockdown started and that was heavy-hitting. I come from a large, happy and crazy family. My husband comes from a big family, too. When loved ones pass away, we get together, eat and drink loads of tea. We couldn’t do this during the lockdown.”
In the midst of their sorrow, Adéle and her husband found inspirational ways to reinvent their coffee shop business. “The need for people to connect doesn’t magically disappear during lockdown. We created catering solutions for people whose family members passed away, preparing dinners for grieving families. We also offered catering services to families who were separated because of the lockdown, for example, children who were apart from and couldn’t get to their elderly parents, or couples who were separated geographically. We had one customer who was stranded overseas. He asked us to deliver a cake to his wife who was alone for her birthday. These were the connections we could still create.”
As an entrepreneur who is community conscious, Adéle launched an initiative called Frontline Friday. “We made a conscious decision to also redefine how we support our community and give back. There were so many people running feeding schemes. We looked at what we do best, which is make good coffee, and identified the need to do something for our frontline health workers who work long hours, often without breaks.”
After a few phone calls, Adéle and her team now serve free coffee on Fridays to medical staff at Karl Bremer and Kuils River Netcare hospitals, which are in close proximity to her coffee shops. “This has grown to such an extent that several other The Daily Coffee Café franchise stores have bought into Frontline Fridays. It all goes back to our purpose of creating a happy place in our communities,” Adéle concludes.
As lockdown restrictions ease, do your bit to support local businesses. Connect with The Daily Coffee Café via their website, Facebook (Kuils River and Willow Bridge Village) and Instagram (Kuils River and Willow Bridge Village).
Author: Alicia English