Finding new markets and channels

While the medical crisis rages on and variations of lockdown and quarantine are in place, business survival is not guaranteed. Besides taking on additional debt or government support, many companies will be forced to look for new markets and channels to bring in additional income.

In this post, we look at the story of West Midlands foodservice company MKG, a BuddyCRM customer, and how they were able to find additional sources of revenue to keep the company operating during lockdown.

In late March 2020, an economic lockdown was mandated by the UK government (in line with many others around the world). MKG was immediately affected as its daily business of supplying food and drink to pubs, restaurants, clubs, schools and care homes was 90% shut down. Government advice was to furlough staff and stay at home.

For the food industry, this had massive implications. Supermarkets were inundated with huge demand for food that they typically didn’t provide as 40% of food is typically eaten outside of the home. With pubs, takeaway shops, cafes, and restaurants closed, the supermarkets were unable to deliver the quantity of food required and empty shelves were the norm for the first month of lockdown.

Meanwhile, companies like MKG Foods, who supplied the out of home eating sector had lost their demand completely but had plenty of food

But shutting down for a food distributor simply wasn’t an option. Meals at care homes and school meals for the children of key workers would continue so MKG needed to continue providing their delivery service. These reduced deliveries though would still mean a massive hit economically unless they could find additional markets.

An overnight decision was made by the directors of MKG to pivot from strictly business to business to domestic customers by starting home delivery and to reduce stocks by donating excess to the charity food banks.

Noting the empty supermarket shelves in the media, MKG’s Sales Director, Philip Mayling, rang the Birmingham Mail to let them know that they had food and were preparing home deliveries. One article in the paper was enough to set the domestic delivery market in motion – demand was so great the website crashed (typically dealing with visits in the hundreds per day, suddenly it had thousands per minute!).

Pivoting quickly from business-to-business to direct to consumer isn’t easy. Getting the word out through social media channels was begun, setting up ordering systems both online and off, new logistics, and accounting practices were different for domestic consumers. Even the products are quite different!

From this decision to supply the domestic market came other enquiries, including the local council that was preparing to provide meals to the vulnerable, those most affected by lockdown.

Marketing the new service meant leaning heavily on BuddyCRM, which MKG also have linked to their inventory and accounting systems. BuddyCRM is the hub of all activity within MKG and they needed to onboard domestic customers quickly and reach out to them through email marketing in the coming weeks. With many staff furloughed, MKG was able to shuffle duties and accounts between those remaining and reach out to more councils on the customer database to notify them of the service they were providing. From a strict method of managing customers, BuddyCRM became a key point of use for PR and influencer outreach. Letting the industry know what they were doing by utilising the contacts they had.

When lockdown ends and pubs, schools, and restaurants are able to open again, MKG will still be able to use their historic data stored in BuddyCRM to start servicing those customers again. Even if salespeople are hired or replaced that data is easily transferrable within BuddyCRM.

“We’ve been using BuddyCRM to manage our wholesale relationships,” says Philip, “now we’re using it to delve deep into our contacts and find new markets. We are communicating with our new customers relentlessly to build trust in our delivery service and that wouldn’t have been possible without BuddyCRM.”

Although they’re still in close communication with their largest customers, their smaller accounts have been put on hold for the time being until lockdown laws are eased and allow re-opening. In the meantime, MKG has utilised the software developers at BuddyCRM to create Pub Order, an app that will allow guests to order from the table instead of queuing and will enable social distancing within pubs and restaurants. Offering this FREE to customers and to the pub and restaurant managers, MKG is using BuddyCRM to communicate the app launch to their smaller customers.

BuddyCRM has become the heart of this customer’s business. Can we help you and your business find new markets and channels to operate in?