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For these businesses, pivoting important for survival

Efrain Larenas, owner of E-Class Personal Fitness Training in Jessup maryland, used to offer classes and training sessions in person. Now he offers the classes digitally. (April Chen)

Efrain Larenas, owner of E-Class Personal Fitness Training in Jessup, Maryland, used to offer classes and training sessions in person. Now he offers the classes digitally. (April Chen)

Many businesses have had to close their doors due to the pandemic or have been forced to become more creative in their approaches to marketing their services and products to customers.  The businesses that have survived are those that have successfully figured out how to pivot.

One of those business owners is Efrain Larenas of E-Class Personal Fitness Training in Jessup, Maryland. Before the pandemic, he offered all of his classes and training sessions in person, which at its shortest distance was at least a 20 minute drive to the Maple Lawn Community Center in Fulton, Maryland. At first, when the gyms closed, he took his classes outside, but then cold weather set in and he had to change his model once again. He has just as much success using the digital models.

Larenas said, “I would say 90% of my business is online. It’s an amazing blessing to be able to do things on the different online platforms including Zoom, Facetime, Google Duo, etc.”

Efrain Larenas' fitness class. (Submitted screenhot)

Efrain Larenas’ fitness class. (Submitted screenhot)

He said his business hasn’t missed a beat despite gym closures and the fear of working out inside a closed space. “I actually see just as many people as I used to see virtually as opposed to in person,” Larenas said. 

When asked about the future of his business once the pandemic is over, he said, “Absolutely, I will use those platforms going forward. I have some clients who have health-related issues, and they do the workouts online—some of which are 75 years old.”

Efrain highlighted mental health and immunity as the top reasons to keep exercising despite the pandemic. “My group classes have doubled in size because people can roll out of bed at 6:45 and exercise, but because no travel is involved, I can train those that like the 5:30 a.m. training,” he said.

Another business which has been able to survive amid the pandemic is Hudson Coastal, a restaurant in Maryland. 

At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, owners Brad and Tricia Hudson never thought that it would last beyond a few weeks. They began work on a new social media strategy, with frequent video posts.

“When we went to daily one-minute updates about the fish of the day and a joke, we really got a lot of traction because we posted on several Facebook groups and a foodie group local to the area as well as on Instagram,” Co-owner Brad Hudson said.

Co-owner, Tricia Hudson emphasized, “It more or less started with how we were protecting our employees and guests.” 

“Social media has been such a success for us that we have not needed other marketing,” Brad Hudson said.

Brad and Tricia Hudson, owners of a seafood restaurant called Hudson Coastal, saw their informative and humorous social media posts take off during the pandemic. (Photo submitted by Heather Soskin Photography)

Brad and Tricia Hudson, owners of a seafood restaurant called Hudson Coastal, saw their informative and humorous social media posts take off during the pandemic. (Photo submitted by Heather Soskin Photography)

The business even had enough community donations to provide meals for hospitals and first responders and continues to give back to those nurses, doctors and paramedics that are saving lives and oftentimes are so backed up with patients that finding time to eat is a luxury.

Other changes the restaurant has made to remain successful include redesigning their raw bar area for takeout, changing the location of their computer systems and phones and crafting better to-go packaging.

They’ve had requests to continue the updates beyond the coronavirus pandemic and see themselves doing so to keep their followers and customers informed and engaged. 

Hudson Coastal also wanted to show customers they were investing to improve the safety of indoor dining, so they installed an ultraviolet air filtration system that filters roughly 99% of impurities, Tricia Hudson said.

Hudson Coastal also offers curbside pickup.

Not all business pivots work, but these two businesses have found their innovative changes to be sustainable, helping them to stay afloat.

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