Growth and Expansion
How Russell Bedford Brazil grew through the pandemic
Willian Reinaldo, head of development at Russell Bedford Brazil, explains the six steps that helped the business to achieve growth during a global pandemic
ovid-19 sent shockwaves through economies and industries all around the world. Some businesses did not survive; others grasped the opportunity to reinvent themselves.
Russell Bedford Brazil did just that, harnessing the power of the global Russell Bedford brand to grow its business beyond pre-pandemic levels.
head of development, Russell Bedford Brazil
1. Form a committee of all your talents
The pandemic threw up a chain of events that no business had ever experienced before. When this happens, there is no training manual, and no single person has all the answers.
In the absence of any knowledge or experience, it makes sense to bring people together to work through the various scenarios and agree a way forward. To be a success, the group should:
- Meet weekly;
- Record everything it agrees;
- Allocate an owner to every action.
This is how you create knowledge and experience where none previously existed. Russell Bedford’s centres of excellence, where staff can engage with other like-minded professionals, can also help here.
2. Reduce costs
When times become tough, fee income may suddenly reduce and unfamiliar situations may present themselves.
When this happens, how you manage a business’s finances is not too dissimilar from how you manage domestic finances: you cannot spend what you do not have. For your business to live within its means and survive you must cut unnecessary costs and reduce waste, focusing only on what is essential.
Defining what is essential and what is unnecessary can be subjective. However, by using the committee we discussed earlier to conduct an objective review you will quickly identify these costs.
3. Invest in new products and services
Having cut costs to deal with a fall in your traditional business income, it may be time to adapt your offer to prevailing business conditions and invest accordingly.
However, what should you invest in? After all, you do not know when the pandemic will end, or what new business scenarios are merely temporary and which ones may become permanent.
The answer may lie in the fundamental economic law of supply and demand; you need to understand:
- how other businesses have adapted to the crisis
- how their needs have changed
- how you can develop new products and services that the altered market wants and needs.
In doing this you must accept that what was successful before may not be what clients want now – nothing is sacred, and anything is possible. In our case, being able to use the Russell Bedford brand and logo added extra weight to our marketing activities.
4. Be transparent
Understand that any action you take will have an impact – if it does not you should not be doing it.
By impact I mean a change to the way you and your business thinks and behaves. Your business succeeds because of its people and the pandemic is a difficult time for them as well as your business, so:
- Take an active approach to HR;
- Explain why you are taking difficult decisions;
- Show leadership and your people will understand.
Your business and your people are in this together, communicate clearly and honestly and they will appreciate that while your business needs them to survive, equally they need your business to survive.
5. Be flexible
The pandemic may have created a scarcity of opportunity in the jobs market, but do not use this as a lever to engage your people. This is both damaging and immoral. For your people to engage properly, they need to understand the context in which they are working – the more you tell them, the more they will understand.
Value your people in more creative ways. Difficult times may prevent further financial rewards but not all benefits need to be financial; reward your people by being flexible, and in ways that make their lives easier.
Allowing people to work from home is the most obvious example of flexibility during the pandemic.
6. Look after your clients
Keeping your existing clients is just as important, if not more so, than finding new clients. Any reduction in demand for your services can mean new clients are scarce so building better relationships with your existing clients should be high on your agenda.
Use your existing client relationships to fully understand their needs and adapt your offer to meet those needs. Further, add new services to meet needs that didn’t exist before the pandemic.
Do this and you will have satisfied clients, loyal clients, and more fees. You will also enhance your business’s reputation.
This approach works – as of August 2021, Russell Bedford Brazil surpassed its performance for the whole of 2020 and is projecting turnover for 2021 to be 25% higher than pre-pandemic 2019 levels. However, do not underestimate the effects of being part of the global brand that is Russell Bedford.
Operating under the Russell Bedford brand gives our business authority and influence, both with domestic clients and those operating internationally. The support on offer is invaluable – Russell Bedford’s experts were delivering online technical webinars before the pandemic made this approach normal.
Knowing that the marketing and technical support we receive from Russell Bedford would continue unimpeded through the pandemic was thoroughly reassuring.