skip to Main Content
How NOT To Crash During A Pandemic – Hardest Hit Businesses Share Their Strategies

Small businesses around the world have taken a serious knock during the COVID-19 pandemic. And that’s especially true for the hair, beauty and restaurant industries in SA. So, what business strategies are they using to survive this?

Go Hustle writer Ondela Mlandu spoke to Sorbet Group CEO Linda Sinclair and Megan Kritzinger, owner of Stellski Coffee Bar, about how they’re fighting to stay afloat. Plus: Relief measures they’ve tapped into for their employees during the national lockdown.

Sorbet Salons‘ strategy: focus on your people

Sorbet is a homegrown, proudly South African brand and a nationwide beauty therapy hub with over 200 stores countrywide. The Sorbet brand started as a family business some 15 years ago. Sorbet is part of Long 4 Life, a listed company with a national footprint across South Africa.

1. Protect employees

Sorbet is in daily contact with the franchise owners, sharing the experiences of hardship and fear from employees who now have a significantly reduced income.

“The response from employees to the relief measures has motivated us to continue engaging the government about a responsible re-opening of the industry,” says Linda. “This is much more than just us going for manicures and hair treatments. This is about the thousands of women and men who have been really hard-hit because they can’t earn a living.”

While hygiene and safety protocols already form part of the normal course of business, says Linda, additional hygiene protocols will form part of continuous training for all franchisees and employees when door open again.

2. Keep engaging with clients

“Since re-opening on 23 June 2020, our stores have been sufficiently busy particularly Sorbet Man stores as well as Sorbet stores for treatments such as manicures and waxing. Stringent social distancing measures are in place. The staff is working on a rotational shift basis. The Sorbet team is conscious not to book too many appointments at once so as to encourage safe social distancing and ensure the highest of hygiene measures. We have found that our guests are satisfied that the additional stringent hygiene protocols we have implemented which allow them to enjoy their treatments in a safe salon environment,” says Linda.

3. Now is the time to build team morale

“[At Sorbet], we put people before profit,” says Linda. It’s a philosophy that stands them in good stead during the tough times.

The Sorbet Group employs around 3 500 workers, mainly from previously disadvantaged and poorer communities. They’re skilled labourers, trained as either beauty therapists, nail technicians, hair stylists or barbers.

“Our employees are often the sole breadwinners in their households, and their financial responsibility, therefore, extends to their broader families, comprising around 20 000 people,” says Linda. “We believe in being in constant contact with all of our stakeholders and in taking on a positive, agile and ‘can do’ attitude.”

View this post on Instagram

Here’s a hint of what we’re looking forward to 😉, what’s yours? #GetThatFeeling

A post shared by Sorbet (@sorbetgroup) on

4. You have a responsibility, so be resilient and adaptable

“Start with people and build your business around it – whether these are your clients, employees or the community you work in. This pandemic is showing us that we need new paradigms and ways of doing business.”

The beauty industry plays a crucial role in empowering thousands of South Africans with a career and the opportunity to earn a living – this is a responsibility Sorbet doesn’t take lightly.

5. Tap into relief measures for employees

The Sorbet Group provided R7 million during May and June to approximately 3 500 employees in the form of food vouchers. Employees receive vouchers to the value of R1 000 a month for two months – this will be re-assessed along the way, depending on lockdown status.

READ MORE: “The One Piece Of Advice I’d Give My Younger Self” – Girl Bosses Dish Life And Leadership Lessons

Stellski Coffee Bar‘s strategy: just keep on doing what you’re good at

Stellski Coffee Bar opened in August last year – and then COVID hit. “Opening a coffee bar and launching a coffee brand in a very competitive market and a tough economy has been challenging, to say the least, but our hard work has paid off. We’re proud and grateful to have built an incredible, loyal customer base in such a short period of time,” says Megan.

1. Educated yourself on the “problem”

When the President declared a national state of disaster, Megan and her team immediately educated themselves on the coronavirus. “Understanding the hard facts on how the virus spreads and who is most at risk allowed us to educate our team and implement reasonable precautionary measures to combat the spread of infection.”

Aware that their team’s livelihoods depends on monthly salaries, they remained for business in whatever form they could in compliance with governments regulations.

2. Figure out what you can still do, and reinvent your brand from there

“When Level 5 Lockdown was introduced, we had no choice but to close Stellski Coffee Bar,” says Megan. “But… the production and sale of ‘coffee’ was classified as an essential goods item under COVID-19 regulations. This was a great opportunity for us to get our exclusive Stellski Coffee Beans into our loyal customer’s homes.”

They sent out emails to clients. They also improved their website to allow for the purchase of vouchers and to order their Stellski Coffee Beans online. “I personally hit the road delivering our beans to our customers’ homes from the 26 March until 1 May when level 4 was implemented,” says Megan.

“On 1 May, our small team got back together at Stellski Coffee Bar and started delivering not only our beans, but our hot coffees and toasties,” she says.

“During this time, we used our social media platforms to create educational videos about our beans and the workings behind the espresso machine” – constantly engaging and sharing knowledge with their followers.

3. Remember why you started your biz in the first place

Adversity can make you question your belief both in yourself and your product. “[But] I knew I had created a great coffee brand that is unique and can make a positive difference to this world,” says Megan. She owed it to her team to stay strong.

“I also reflected on why I created Stellski Coffee Bar and my vision for a coffee brand that spreads joy! It was during this dark time that I became more motivated in my belief that South Africa needs Stellski’s bright, bold, positive, fun vibes,” she says.

4. Show up every day

Megan fundamentally believes it’s what you do, not what you say, that builds character and gains respect. “[So] I kept showing up every day, working extremely hard, trying new things and showing the team that I was fully committed to them, the business and its long term [survival],” she says.

5. Trust yourself (and your team)

“Optimism, resilience and action will get you a lot further than negativity and complacency,” says Megan. Stop listening to everybody else and trust in yourself.

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

×Close search