The infamous Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted many businesses and caused many shutters to close. In this issue of YES (propertY, peoplE, placeS), we spotlight a few businesses that have performed exceptionally well to survive the current unprecedented perfect storm that has shown no signs of abating. Here’s their respective strategies.
By Yvonne Yoong
When the pandemic hit last year, real estate was affected on a global scale. An emerging trend saw urban dwellers buying weekend homes away from the city. New York and Tokyo for instance, saw many of the city dwellers purchasing either weekend homes or a second home away from the city, opting to be close to Nature. In Malaysia, both primary and secondary transactions were still active with banks lowering their base lending rates to an all-time low. Meanwhile. first-time homebuyers were feted with a lot of incentives, making home ownership viable.
The AREA Group of Companies can be divided into three major businesses including the advisory segment whereby it is engaged by companies to set up funds to attract capital to expand their business and advice them on industrial strategies for their land banks.
Industrial development is another area as witnessed by AREA which is currently developing a 220-acre site in Kota Seri Langat to cater to increasing demand for managed industrial parks.
Thirdly, fund management / Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) with it running Malaysia’s only Shariah compliant private REIT with a focus on educational assets.
All three sectors have done well during the pandemic as companies reassessed their business models and started to pivot to industrial development and raise the capital to do the projects. AREA’s education REITs showed that the education sector managed the pandemic very well and in fact, grew its revenue in 2020.
With Covid-19 still ongoing, it is now clearer than ever – that it is no more “Business As Usual”. In “The New Normal”, the following questions must be asked and considered:
• What will the world look like/be like post-pandemic and what changes will the workplace/workforce face?
• Is permanent remote working part of “The New Normal”? And, what is “The New Normal”? How will businesses survive and, later on, thrive?
To address these concerns and more – it is about adopting a fresh mindset: One that is open to experiment, innovate, and is agile. Having a start-up mentality is a must now as “The New Normal” impacts operational processes at all levels. This includes managing and developing talent (re-skill/ up-skill) and reinventing what works pre-pandemic in order to be more resilient and embrace digitalisation as a viable solution in moving forward.
The pandemic has erased all lingering doubts about the neccessity of digital transformation. In a contactless world, the vast majority of interactions with customers and employees must take place virtually. With rare exceptions, operating digitally is the only way to stay in business through mandated shutdowns and restricted activity. It’s go digital, or go dark.
Thus, the digital mandate has been brought into sharp focus, accelerating the paradigm shift of digitisation and servitisation of the economy. This is evidenced by a marked shift in spending towards digital businesses.
Pre-pandemic, most of the commercial and retail shoplots were struggling to find tenants. Getting paid rental consistently every month was a challenge wth existing tenants demanding up to 50% discount in most instances while securing quality tenants was also the biggest hurdle for landlords besides delayed payment of rentals.
One of the reasons is the lack of footfall at commercial and retail outlets which dropped drastically due to prevailing concerns about Covid-19.
Since overall business revenue and rental payments have been struggling, some businesses have dropped their business revenue by 80% while many businesses have folded.
The question is whether there is still hope for retail and commercial outlets moving forward. There is a recent trend emerging whereby “shared revenue” may be a possible solution to revive the profitability of businesses that operate out of shoplots as well as retail lots.
With shared revenue, tenants do not have to pay rental and there is no tenancy agreements involved.
Thus, joint e-commerce business parnerships can be formed with landlords offering their premises to potential businesses to occupy and operate their business based on profit sharing schemes in a win-win situation.
As a developer viewing things through the eyes of its stakeholders, Triterra has always prioritise itself in being agile and adaptable to meet its stakeholders needs as best as it can. The Covid-19 crisis has created unfamiliar and unprecedented challenges. With that, Triterra is truly humbled by the extraordinary achievements with The MET Corporate Towers recording a healthy RM50 million new sales for the first half of 2021, thus securing it close to 88% of its overall sales to date. Moving forward, Triterra will focus on occupancy via its Occupancy Driven Campaign that is a value-added initiative surrounding its three core benefits of location, pricing, and concept. Businesses thrive on connections so the need of a business centre, offices and common grounds to break new frontiers are ever relevant. Hence, Triterra’s campaign to create “lifelong business excellence” is still on track despite the “perceived” headwinds that the entire market is currently facing.
In the case of future-proofing, it is through the in-depth understanding of the market that Triterra strives to play an important role in ensuring that the building’s spaces are not only relevant but are occupied so that it thrives with life and business opportunities benefit everyone.
In the midst of what will be the aftermath of an unprecedented global catastrophe, many people have come to the realisation that there are proactive and wise things to do in preparation for unforeseen events. These include protecting one’s health and staying strong as well as protecting one’s
livelihood and financial security. ASEA offers a product that is a gift for humanity and an enormous opportunity to any motivated and willing-to-be mentored man or woman who wants to have a better life.
Everyone has monthly residual bills to pay. But when one’s income stream gets abruptly decreased or stopped, stress and panic often happens and people’s financial current and future situations change, without warning. If they have no passive/residual income vehicle in place, they can find themselves burning through their savings, thus pushing back their retirement date by years.
This time, the unforeseen event was a global pandemic. But next time – who knows? It could be another pandemic or could there be a worldwide financial crisis? Thus, having that Plan B in place just makes sense. The problem is that most passive income producing vehicles require a large capital investment that most people simply cannot make. Some, however, do not.
For people in 33 international countries, ASEA – an 11-year-old US-based global company is one of those solid and limitless opportunities that require almost no investment.It has a patent (and IP) protected health and anti-aging technology (“redox signaling “) that is a category-creating breakthrough. For the human condition (physical and mental), the implications of this technology are limitless as are the implications of the opportunities it has created entrepenurially speaking and healthwise.
While there are six most common reasons that drive people to investigate ASEA (www.Minutes6Reasons.com), many don’t clearly see the opportunity until they’ve experienced (or witnessed loved ones experience) the technology, themselves.
All of the redox technology product is produced in an FDA (Food & Drug Administration) registered production facility in the US which is then shipped to over 20 global distribution centres. In 11 years, ASEA has generated over USD1 billion in revenue since its launch with increased revenue annually including the year of the global pandemic. It also carries no debt.
The company has now entered the Asian market. Both the product and the opportunity are now available in six Asian markets (Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines), with many others scheduled to open soon. The pandemic has not stunted growth but has instead resulted in a remarkable growth trajectory for ASEA to expand its wings as greater emphasis is placed on healthcare and boosting the immune system in the wake of the global pandemic where health is truly the wealth in “The New Normal”.
The lockdown affected everyone globally. Caught in this predicament, no one was able to help anyone else as everyone was in the same dilemma with businesses stopping operations while some projects were put on hold. This has never happened in a lifetime whereby it’s a first ever situation whereby communicaton becomes a big challenge while various Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) came into place with the uncertainty.
As business owners, the uncertainties need to be overcomed by focus so far and positive thinking. Hence, the importance of extra knowledge to bring the business forward coupled by extra skills are fundamental while utilising the online platform.
“The New Normal” situation forces everyone to change and with Work From Home (WFH), the firm pivoted to ensure online coaching for the entire team. This was also the time the team’s skillsets were honed. As a firm, innovation was key, with the firm branching out to create its own bespoke furniture range which will be launched very soon.
As a branding and marketing firm, we were badly hit by Covid-19. With high running cost and clients temporary halting projects, we really hit a brick wall. Bills were piling up and the account balance was running low. However, there are always opportunities in despair. When things get tough, you just need to work extra harder. That was when I started to revisit my clients and friend’s businesses, looking for that one open door. After countless knocking, it was then that I stumbled upon the lighting company which has just introduced high tech UV-C sterilising lamps but was unsure on how to market it. After many meetings, UVPRO Malaysia was born. In essence, we combined the expertise of two companies, one with technical and another in marketing expertise.
Combining sanitisation plus branding as a socially responsible business to combat Covid-19 was relevant.
Soon, enquiries and schedules for installation. Though we can’t fully claim we have emerged as a winner during the unprecedented storm of Covid-19 crisis we are definitely on track to do so. With proper marketing and education, the business of UV-C sterilising will continue to flourish. We have been able to ride out this tough Covid-19 economic crisis, thanks to the qualities of being able to adapt, change and combine resoures. Opportunities are always out there if you just keep looking and don’t give up.
Being in the nail industry, we were among the first business operations to be closed and the last to be allowed to open throughout the Movement Control Orders (MCOs). Weeks led to months and we were unable to operate while having fixed costs such as rental, utilities, loans and staff salaries. It was a stressful time which put a strain on the financial part of the business. However, with good planning and willingness to adapt, we managed to turn this crisis into opportunity. The first action I took was to discuss with my acountant regarding the state of my finances to understand what needed to be paid, what can be renegotiated, and what kind of leeway could be leveraged upon by the government.
Secondly, we did not stop communicating with our customers but built a stronger bond with them than before. Besides sharing tips on how to care for their nails from home, we sent them products for home maintenance, promotions that they can purchase now and enjoy later, and even new implementations that we will execute to create a safe salon for them.
We also utilised technology and excess time during the MCOs to upskill the team’s skillsets via Zoom online classes. Overseas training for certifications such as treating geriatric and diabetic patients’ nails were also conducted.
POSH decided to raise the barin sanitisation by utillising high tech UVC lamps by UVPRO Malaysia to destroy all germs, bacterias and viruses every night before reopening our doors the next morning.
The beauty industry took a major hit during the pandemic last year as health, beauty and wellness centres were forced to shut down completely.
Ozmosis too wasn’t spared as it also suffered a major loss during lockdown by virtue of it being closed. During the extended lockdown, Ozmosis was forced to stretch every dollar of its resources to keep things afloat.
Ozmosis acknowledged that though entire industres were impacted by the pandemic, its staff remained faithful, supportive and understanding, in accepting all the challenges as an operations, and what it was trying to do to stay afloat and relevant.
Ozmosis took advantage of the time off to improve its services internally by learning and imparting online training to its staff focussing on the intricacies of oil blends, homemade beauty therapies, and etc.
Admittedly, 2020 was a tough year, and Ozmosis had to do lots of cutbacks. In fact, Ozmosis even had to close one of its beauty centres.
However, it will continue to strive to serve its clients better by doing everything it can to stay afloat, while maintaining the safety of clients and staff by adibing to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place.
* Information and opinions expressed are those of the interviewees and are accurate at the time of the interview.