Changing times call for adaptability. Business leaders continue to think of different ways and implement measures to ensure that their companies will survive and eventually thrive in the “new normal.”
I managed to get some insights from a few business leaders about the current status of their businesses. My friends CIE British School founder, president and CEO Prof. Nelia Cruz Sarcol,The Bellevue Manila managing director Patrick Chan and Lexus Manila Inc. (LMI) president Raymond Rodriguez told me about how they will adjust to the new normal, and what will change about how they run their businesses moving forward.
Johnny Litton:How will your business adapt in the coming weeks to the “new normal?”
Prof. nelIa Cruz-Sarcol:The board of trustees and I, together with the administrators of the CIE British Schools, with campuses in Makati, Cebu, and Tacloban, were already closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in China and in other countries to make sure that we could protect our students, parents, guardians, faculty, and staff, as early as the fourth week of February. As the CIE president, I made a decision to adapt and transition to a full distance education via online learning mode for the students and a work-from-home scheme for the teaching and non-teaching staff even before the enhanced community quarantine starting March 9 for CIE Makati, March 16 for CIE Cebu, and March 17 for CIE Tacloban. The faculty and support staff of CIE are prepared because of their annual training in the CIE Teachers’ Summer Institute, where they are always given refresher courses about online teaching strategies and child internet safety protocols as required in the CIE child safeguarding policies, among other topics. All these were made possible because the CIE British Schools have always used cutting edge technologies, having used various online Learning Management Systems (LMS) since 2002 to supplement our onsite/face-to-face classroom setup. The teachers have been uploading assignments, study materials, study guides, lesson outlines, announcements, and schedules. In turn, the students of both basic education and higher education (college) send their academic inquiries, submit their outputs, interact with their teachers and classmates using the various online platforms integrated in the LMS that CIE has been using. CIE will continue to hold all classes online for SY 2020-2021 starting Aug. 24 until such time that COVID-19 situation has significantly improved, safe enough for everyone to physically attend classes.
Patrick Chan:Even prior to ECQ, we had already implemented precautionary measures in the hotel such as mandatory thermal scanning upon entry, wearing of face masks for our employees, sanitizers were placed in all areas of the hotel, and we made sure to use high quality cleaning agents such as ultraviolet C sanitation device and Hygiene Pro’s antimicrobial shield to thoroughly clean our guest rooms and public areas. We further heightened our measures during the ECQ by placing glass barriers at the front desk and markers around the hotel for social distancing. Our employees also wore PPEs and stayed in-house for their protection. We also went the extra mile by conducting a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test to our currently in-house guests and employees.The same test will also be administered to our incoming personnel to ensure the safety of the hotel.Our team meets almost daily for updates to prepare for the new normal.We need to quickly adapt and focus on what markets can be tapped given the uncertainties and restrictions on travel and tourism.
Raymond Rodriguez:We started our operations already and opened in mid-May. We were quite careful when we opened. Since we were required to only have 50 percent of manpower, we carefully planned ahead of time and scheduled who among the associates would arrive at a certain time to adhere to the rule. The next adjustment we made was with the clients. They now have to book an appointment with us before they can come to have their units serviced, but even then there were some customers who still walked in. But majority of the profile of Lexus customers are still on an appointment basis, so we did not have any difficulty. Normally we would start off with receiving an average of 25 to 30 cars daily coming in for service, so for the first week we were averaging between 10 and 20, so it’s not bad. So we accepted them mostly for periodic maintenance. Our showroom traffic was very low, we averaged less than five customers per day unlike the normal, which can even double. Regarding our sales, we had some reservations when we stopped work last March 18, so we were able to sell quite a number of units for our customers. We were expecting to sell as many as 17 units, but I think we can sell more than that. We did quite a number of safety protocol requirements, we had to disinfect the facility two times — first was after the lockdown, and then the Sunday before we opened on Monday, we had a general disinfection process. That’s for all —the showroom, the entrance, the service, the workshop. We had to procure hand sanitizers and censors and we had to put them in key areas — the reception, the showroom, and so on. Because our workforce was cut in half, some of our sales consults work in the showroom while some work from home. For those in the facility, we make sure that everyone maintains social distancing protocols. As for customers, when they come in we spray the wheels of their vehicles with disinfectants, and for every service, before we release their cars we have what we call the bactaklenz treatment, it’s an anti-bacterial treatment using a misting system to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria, mold and fungi. The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effect lasts up to three months. It is complementary for everyone coming to Lexus Manila for service. For warranty concerns, we have 30-day grace period because we understand customers cannot come.
What do you think some of the major changes will be moving forward?
Prof. nelIa Cruz-Sarcol:Moving forward, all public and private schools in the Philippines will really have to move to online learning to safeguard all stakeholders. The major changes for Filipino students would include having to acquire a working laptop or desktop computer and access to the internet at home. This will be a daunting task for the public school system and the students from the less privileged sector of our society. The so-called “digital divide” will be very evident. There should be a call for action among the higher middle class and the elite to address this problem. If all civic organizations and NGOs come up with a concerted effort and strategy to help address this problem, maybe we can see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. All telecommunication corporations should support and work closely with the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED). As for CIE, we are creating the Tunay Na Iskolar Ng Bayan (Translation in English: Real Scholars of the Country) Distance Education via online learning mode, offering free tuition fee for the less privileged sector of the society beginning senior high school onwards which may even lead to finishing a bachelor’s degree in Business. This is our way of giving back to the Filipino youth and for love of country. CIE will update its infrastructure to accommodate as many students as possible. For more information and for those who are interested, they can email email@example.com.
PATRICK CHAN: For the Bellevue Group, possible options would be to limit the number of checked-in guests and reduced capacity at restaurants and function rooms. Buffets will no longer be offered while servicing of community with takeout and delivery services will be continued. Rest assured, the safety of our guests and employees will always be our utmost priority and we will continue to adhere to the guidelines set by the government.
Raymond Rodriguez:We are expecting that visitors in our showroom will be reduced and we have to be the ones to reach out to the customers. We would like to encourage customers to visit our website, http://www.lexus.com.ph, and there is also the Lexus Remote. It is a hassle-free contactless purchase method where customers can inquire and our Sales Consultants can get back to them. When we deliver new cars, we give the customers the option of picking up the car from the facility or us delivering the car to them. I think there will be a big shift in deliveries. For service, there must be some customers who will hesitate to come so we may also have to do some home services for them on emergency services. The most common are batteries and general check-ups. We can expect this type of service to increase given the current situation. There will also be pick-up and delivery services requirements by some customers which we may accommodate and include in the service packages we offer. Convenience and safety is the way to go.
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