Covid-19: A Personal Experience

A Personal Experience.

by jaco le roux

director, copper wines & craft distillers

A Personal Experience of a Distributor of Boutique Wines and Craft Spirits /Small Business Owner.

Friday the 13th (how appropriate).
Rumours of COVID-19 became more serious.
An immediate drop-off in online customers and traffic on Copper Wines and Craft Spirits Website confirmed COVID-19 pandemic as a reality.

With immediate action my team and I started informing our customers of the situation and we tried to fulfil any outstanding deliveries to ensure our customers were prepared for the lockdown.

Monday 16 March.
A state of emergency was called and restrictions were implemented on the sales and transportation of Alcohol.
By 17h00 I felt the pressure mount when 8 New Clients orders that took weeks to negotiate had to be cancelled.

Wednesday 18 March.
Reality sunk in when 14 Scheduled meetings that took 3 months to secure had to be cancelled for the upcoming weeks.
I persisted nonetheless with a positive mindset to reschedule meetings for later in April and tried to focus on remaining calm during this period.
The announcement of a National Lockdown and State of Disaster together with a complete Ban on Sales of Alcohol and related products resulted in an immediate halt of all contractual negotiations and meetings related to my business.
I asked myself repeatedly: What now? Where to now?

It took me a day or two to work through my emotions and my thoughts.
I decided to lift my head and to stands strong and vouched not to let this pandemic get me down.
No matter how hard it may be I will keep on fighting.

First thing I did was to inform my landlords that I might not be able to pay my rentals.
I then had to let my staff know that I might only be able to pay of their salaries partially.
Of course this had a huge emotional impact on me, but I pushed through.
I still had some debit orders that bounced and this added further stress to the situation.
To date it is still an uncertainty if my company will survive post the lockdown or not.
I am still in the process of applying for various loans and financial assistance to enable the sustainability of Copper Wines and Craft Spirits.

It forced me to apply my thinking on what would be the next steps

I had to reinvent myself and my approach to business.
As much as it has been a very tough period, it has also been a huge growth phase for me personally and in my approach to business. I knew that it wasn’t only me in this situation and that so many restaurateurs, Bar owners, club owners and other Small business owners some of them close friends, was in the same position I am in. But on the other hand I was also very proud of the government and all the political parties working together and taking bold, proactive and decisive action.

I sat down and re-looked at my marketing strategies as that is all I can work on currently. I shifted the focus to Social Media platforms boosting my social media posts to get and retain top of mind presence with my existing friends, followers and customers. I am also trying to change the negativity with constant and exciting fun updates and product reviews and fun stuff.

These last few weeks has also been very powerful knowing that I can choose how I respond and react to this crisis. I have also realised that we have never been gifted with so much time to work not only on our Businesses but ourselves as well, this time gave me time to reflect and also brought me closer to my religion and to God.

This has been the perfect time for self-reflection and self-development. Too often we are so busy working that we do not work on our business and ourselves we miss out on so many opportunities to become better in business and in our personal lives and improve the clients experiences when dealing with Copper Wine and Craft Spirits, grow our sales, create demand for my clients products and so much more.
I do believe with my whole heart that, either way, we are all going to come out of this a lot stronger. It is your decision how you going to handle this pandemic and what you going to do.
Me? Well, I decided to keep on fighting to keep positive and keep my head up and high…

#StaySafe #StayPositive #KeeponFighting #StandTogether #Copperwines