Interview given by Richard LAMURE - SIPAREX 74 newsletter
Were you ready to face the crisis?
We saw the epidemic gradually turned into a pandemic because we have subsidiaries abroad, particularly in China and Italy. The latter were the first to be affected. Telecommuting was introduced in Shanghai and then in our second location in Guanghzou (in the south). So we reacted very quickly when Europe was impacted. All of our employees based in France were immediately instructed to telecommute, which had never been considered, even in the risk prevention plans.
How was your company impacted during the lockdown period?
This period forced the company to reinvent itself. Our job includes training our customers to use our software. Almost all of out training sessions were done face-to-face. By mobilizing training, administrative, sales and technical teams, we have created a new remote service. And this service will continue after the crisis.
We have also adapted the content of our training courses. We did this by having less lecture-style training, more user-friendly and by making the software freely available during the training session so that customers can use it on their personal computers.
THE LOCKDOWN DID NOT PREVENT US FROM COMPLETING THE EXTERNAL GROWTH OPERATIONS
THAT WE INITIATED IN 2019
Distance selling has been something new for us. We have been successful in securing orders by doing demonstrations remotely to both existing and prospective customers. We also took advantage of this period to mobilize our marketing department and improve our communication on social networks.
And the lockdown did not prevent us from completing the external growth operations that we initiated in 2019. An acquisition in Belgium was signed just before the pandemic reached Europe, and we were able to finalize the other two acquisitions, in the Czech Republic and in France, without even having to travel!
How do you project the company in the coming months?
This crisis made us realize that the company had to evolve, especially in terms of its organization. Personally, I had my doubts about telecommuting. I no longer have those doubts. We realized that having certain collaborators, such as developers, telecommuting could be beneficial. This prevents them from being interrupted and allows them to concentrate better. I even think that this has empowered our employees and they showed initiative. We will therefore consider putting in place this type of working method.
Will this crisis impact your business model, if so how?
Without a doubt, distance learning will account for a larger percentage of our business. Mentalities will change, so we will have to take this into account in the way we present of our offers. We will therefore have to be responsive.
Internally, we will continue to conduct our meetings via Microsoft Teams which will enable us to streamline our travels, whether with our French companies or our subsidiaries abroad.
Media Source: The SIPAREX Newsletter 74 - Rebound Special Edition