It’s hard to believe that we’ve been living through a pandemic for almost two years now. As it did for many firms, March 2020 brought fear, confusion, and disruption to CHH CoNeX. Coronavirus and government restrictions changed the way we work, paused projects and at times, switched everyone’s mindset from growth to survival. However, it’s often said that adversity is the fuel of opportunity and despite these difficult times, we have recorded our most successful year-to-date. We are on target to reach an annual turnover of £17m at the end of this year, a significant boost from last year’s £10m figure. How have we done it? In this article, we wanted to share some of the lessons we learned.
- Diversify or die
One positive many businesses took from the pandemic was the fact that it accelerated diversification strategies. For us, it pushed us to put more focus on our managed service provision; even during nationwide lockdowns, field service teams still needed assistance on the ground to keep critical services running. This helped us to truly realise the potential growth within our business for managed services and we have since scaled up our resources in this area. In fact, managed services provision comprises 75% of this year’s turnover figure – its largest contribution ever.
Key to this diversification has been our role in the UK Government’s ongoing smart meter rollout. We were originally involved in providing more than 850 cabinet and integrated rack systems in the UK’s first phase rollout of smart meters across the North of England and Scotland, which then led on to us offering managed services to equip field service engineers as the continued to install and maintain the increasing numbers of smart meters being provided to the nation’s homes and businesses.
Field engineers can order all their vital tools, consumables and personal protective equipment (PPE) online from CHH for next day delivery. This enables engineers to spend more time in the field carrying out smart meter installations much more efficiently. Furthermore, as we continue to grow this area of the business, we are investigating opportunities to contribute to the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, since many of our contacts in smart metering will also be responsible for similar future projects.
- Pivot, quickly
We live in ever-changing times and just as the world evolves, so too must businesses. An effective business strategy is one that constantly changes; it should be a live and ongoing process that you continually revisit to take advantage of new opportunities and pivot your business in response to disruption. At CHH, we went into the pandemic with our eyes and minds open, with a willingness to explore new sectors, solutions, and innovations. We partnered with Pathogen Solutions on the development of its Medixair product, a portable air sterilisation solution that has been tested and proven to eliminate airborne viruses and bacteria as part of effective infection control regimes. It plays a key role in reducing the airborne spread of coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses when used in indoor environments. We have also been working on innovative new communications infrastructure projects that we are unable to discuss yet, but which have the potential to change the way we access information on our high streets in the future. These partnerships are proof of the opportunities that challenges can bring to businesses.
- Develop relationships
Collaboration has always been an important aspect of our ethos at CHH CoNeX. We recognise that the work you put into forming partnerships throughout the supply chain can truly pay off during challenging times. Throughout the past two years we have been involved in a lot of new projects, diversified into new services and entered new markets. None of this would have been possible without the partnerships we have formed over the past few decades of being in business. One of the major strengths of the UK SME community is the way that small businesses work together to compete on a global stage. Whether it’s our partnership with Medixair, the support we have been providing to field engineers in several industries, or just the encouragement that fellow business owners provide to us, we couldn’t have achieved growth through this challenging time without our partners.
While we’re celebrating our best ever year at CHH CoNeX, it’s not been without its challenges, and we are indebted to every person, business, and organisation that has supported us through an extremely difficult time. But hopefully our story shows that opportunity exists even in some of the darkest, most challenging times. As the world continues to get on top of coronavirus, and we all adjust to a new way of living and working, CHH continues to innovate and seek new opportunities, in new markets, with new and existing partners. None of us knows what the future will look like, especially following the complete disruption wrought by Covid-19 which saw massive global shifts that were previously unthinkable Black Swan events; major events that occur perhaps once in a lifetime.
One thing is certain, whatever happens, the flip side is that there are always opportunities.