Sturminster Shop Closed Saturday 19th September. Potting Shed business as usual.



Learnings from a Locked Down business

Posted by Giles Henschel on

Here we are, some 14 weeks since we all locked down...
During those 14 weeks Olives Et Al has been operating throughout - observing social distancing, launching our lifeboat, Loaf & Larder, still producing and supplying Olives, Sauces, Dressings, Snacks & Nuts to the delis and farm shops which remain open. But what have we learnt?

With the Summer Solstice marking the half way point in this crazy year, it was time for a spot of reflection:

As business owners and employers of some 50 folk, Annie and I have had much to reflect on over the last 14 weeks - initially there was the same overall feeling of, "What do we do now?" which was rapidly replaced with, "Better do something bloody quick".

We lost 98% of our sales when lock down came into force - supplying into pubs, bars and restaurants accounts for a fair whack of our income and when the airlines all stayed on the ground another big chunk dried up. We don't supply into the big supermarkets so while everyone was panic buying we didn't see any uplift and since Olives have not yet been discovered as the miracle cure for Covid I reckon we would have been pretty low down the priority list anyway.

(Having said that, and so as you know - olives do have remarkable health properties and are both anti microbial and anti bacterial so you won't go far wrong if you munch a few every now and again...)

So, on the 20th March we set to and created our online grocery service to be able to provide the food and ingredients we already had access to out to the folk that really needed it - either because they were shielding or because they simply couldn't get slots for online deliveries from anyone else. We built the website in 24 hours flat and started delivering on the 21st March.

Since then, we've delivered over 1200 orders to all corners of the UK. Eggs to Kilmarnock, Olives to the Isle of Arran, Dressings to Truro, Snacks to Norwich and more rice, flour and pasta than we ever thought possible such was the insatiable desire to home bake. Anything within the immediate area we've delivered in person wherever possible - on many occasions within just an hour or so of receiving the order. We've driven well over 10,000 miles and had the most uplifting and amazing doorstep conversations - learning a lot along the way...

Firstly, Dorset is a pretty stunning county and I've discovered villages and places I never knew existed. Here's a few things we've learnt:
1. Most people we meet over the age of 45-50 would prefer to stay at home until a vaccine is discovered and has been proven to be successful.
2. The vast majority over the age of 60-65 have actively stated they will continue to stay home even as and when restrictions are lifted.
3. The universal feeling is that those who have changed their shopping habits and discovered the benefits of ordering from small businesses like us say they will continue to do so rather than return to the supermarkets.
4. There is a realisation that we do not necessarily need the choice of brands and products stocked on big shop shelves: as a regular customer said as I delivered to them for the 4th or 5th time, "who needs 15 different types of bleach or jam or coffee or tea?"
5. Some industry research came our way with some very interesting facts and figures: 75% of customers are visiting supermarkets less; 25% of shoppers feel anxious with nearly 33% of shoppers in supermarkets scared about the risk of contracting corona virus; amazingly, the more precautions taken by supermarkets resulted in more negative emotions and 50% of shoppers found supermarket shopping a negative experience. Interesting, eh?
6. People genuinely like our olives and appreciate what we are doing as a business to support and supply.

So - we'll keep on doing what we're doing for as long as you need us to do it - we just need to know what you want us to supply so please feel free to let me know: you can reach me at giles@olivesetal.co.uk - feel free to contact me!

What have you learnt? What do you feel?
If the things above are what we've discovered over the last 14 weeks please share with us what you've learnt and discovered. I'd be fascinated to know and would love to share some of your thoughts and feelings (anonymously, of course) with all the Loaf and Larderers and Oliveers out there - after all, we're all linked by one thing in common - us. If you're receiving this it means you are part of a tribe of people united by one thing - Olives Et Al - you all get these emails and, at some point, we've been in touch with each other in some way - whatever it is you do - lawyer, dentist, plumber, accountant, retailer, retired or whatever.

Wouldn't it be grand to build and develop this tribe? Let's stick together and sail on to the other side - whatever it looks like and whatever we find.

This is a Voyage of Discovery for all of us...

Let us know what you need and want from us and we'll adapt to you - it's the only thing we can do to help us navigate our way into an uncertain future. The one thing you can be sure of is that we'll be here for as long as you need us and for as long as we can continue to be of service.

If you've read all of this then thank you - most probably won't - if you don't like what I've written this time around then please don't unsubscribe just yet, maybe the next email will light your candle! And, as a reward for getting this far - use the code VOYAGER10 at the checkout and get a thankful 10% off your order...

Feel free to write to me personally at giles@olivesetal.co.uk and I hope we all get to see each other on the other side...

Thanks for reading