ADAPTING THE BUSINESS TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE IN TODAY’S NEW SCENARIO
Arbegui is a family business dedicated to “Special Transports”. Its owner and CEO, Julen Arzadun, tells us how Covid-19 has impacted on his business and provides us with a few pointers for adapting to the “new normal” brought about by the pandemic.
Erhardt Proyectos. How have you been affected by the pandemic in terms of the market?
Julen Arzadun. The state of lockdown due to COVID-19 put a stop to several international contracts and domestic operations that were non-essential because of the travel ban between the Spanish regions or autonomous communities.
Nevertheless, it provided an opportunity to reinforce our dealings and strengthen our understanding of those clients whose business was considered essential and could not interrupt the provision of their services. We managed to step up the plate in an unprecedented situation and become a key ally and support for ensuring their businesses did not suffer.
EP.- What internal changes have you had to make?
JA.- We have had to learn to deal with clients digitally, which was unthinkable in a face-to-face sector such as our own. Although it is more convenient, dynamic and economical than travel, nothing can replace the physical interplay between people.
We will continue to use videoconferencing as another support for facilitating and guaranteeing communication with clients and monitoring those operations entrusted to us, but this will not replace personal contact whenever possible.
Like our suppliers and customers, we have also decided to resort to home working, which has involved the immediate adaptation of admin positions and operating work processes.
We have also been greatly assisted by the digitisation process we launched in January because all the key business paperwork is available in the cloud, so we have been able to continue working from home, guaranteeing our clients receive the same level of service, and avoiding the temporary closure of the business.
We have reinforced our prevention and safety protocols according to government guidelines, and we have introduced half-day working for teams on the ground, with no in situ deployment of their members.
EP.- What are your keys for adapting to the “new normal”?
JA.-We could sum them up in the following five points:
A CHANGE OF MINDSET
The firm’s management is working with staff on the acceptance of the change brought about by the pandemic, as there is no way back. We understand there is a need to speed up everyone’s adjustment to this new reality.
To do so, we have considered it expedient to extend our management system to include the working methods and protocols put in place during COVID-19 in order to “normalise” them through our everyday work, reinforce communication through the benefits and opportunities the change has ushered in, and incentivise the training required to make the most of the technologies acquired.
DIGITISE NO MATTER WHAT
We firmly believe that digitisation is not an option, but instead a necessary step for being in a position to fulfil our clients’ changing requirements whenever these may arise.
We will continue interfacing our systems and digitising processes to ensure internal traceability and services of the utmost value for clients, such as track & trace for special shipments, which we have already introduced.
WORKING FROM HOME IS HERE TO STAY
EWorking from home is not going to go away, and we will be using it, together with physical presence, to be more efficient and enable clients to enjoy continuous access, contact and support, regardless of where we are at any given moment. Furthermore, this will help us to strike a better balance between work and home life.
LEAVING OUR COMFORT ZONE
Protocols and processes make us feel secure and structure our work, but they sometimes stop us from being as flexible and adaptable as clients require. We are reviewing the way in which we respond and operate in order to discard anything that impedes us from responding to a client in a personalised and dynamic manner at any given moment or to comply with their requirements and timeframes.
FOCUSING ON THE CLIENT
This has always been the case, although now more than ever. We will continue to put our clients and their needs, which are increasingly more volatile, at the heart of our business, working side-by-side, like a partner, knowing how to satisfy their needs in special transport.
EP.- Thank you Julen