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Project Slippers – Week 6-10 Update

It’s time for the second round-up on Project Slippers already…

If you’ve missed the first round-up instalment, take a look down the list of blog posts to catch-up on weeks 1 to 5, then come back to this one, which covers weeks 6 to 10…

Project Slippers is what I’ve termed this period of time where I have been isolating at home due to the risk of COVID-19. It started officially for me on Friday 13th March (yes, really – what a date!), so this blog marks 10 weeks of lockdown.

So, how’s it going? I’ve been documenting my journey via LinkedIn and my other business social media channels on a weekly basis, but as per the first round-up instalment, I thought it’d be helpful to provide you with a summary of the second batch of 5 weeks’ worth of Project Slippers….

Week 6 - Week Ending 24/04/2020 - "Glimmer Of Hope"

This week, I've experienced hope….a very small, but still very pleasing, glimmer of hope….

I’m in the process of rolling out a new Global system on behalf of an automotive brand. The project necessitates me to talk to markets around the world every week, and guess what the first topic of conversation has been for the last 3 or 4 months?

Yep, you guessed it….the C-word, COVID19.

It’s been fascinating and scary in equal measure, to experience the impact of the virus as it has swept around the world. Firstly colleagues in China reported the effects on their day to day lives. When we first heard about the lock down measures they were experiencing, we were shocked that something so severe was necessary. Imagine only being allowed to leave your home for food and medical supplies! Yet here we are, experiencing our own lock down in the UK.

The project calls were dominated by the latest updates from each country as the wave continued around the world, enveloping more and more countries every week. We’ve been checking in on each other and sharing the latest news and stories we’ve all read or heard. The funniest one was a story that was shared in the UK that Vladimir Putin had released lions onto the streets of Russia as a way to keep people at home! I shared the rumour with my Russian colleagues, and they confirmed that no lions had been spotted on their streets...not yet anyway! Phew! In fact, they joked that surely it’d be bears in Russia, not lions!

Gradually all stakeholders around the world ended up working at home. Children and pets joined in the calls unexpectedly, as everyone adapted to the new way of working.

Then, this week, a glimmer of hope….

I noticed one of the delegates from Korea hadn’t joined the call. Only one of the two stakeholders had signed in to the audio conference. I announced that we would wait for him to join as I know he wouldn’t want to miss the latest updates….only to be told he was there in the room with his colleague. They were back in the office! In the same room!

Such a simple act of two colleagues sharing a meeting room in their office for a conference call fills me with joy! After just over 6 weeks at home, Korea is now starting to get back to normal; well, a new normal anyway!

Week 7 - Week Ending 01/05/2020 - “Stepping Out Of The Zone"

Has it really been another week since my last update?! Lockdown time is flying! Well, it is for me anyway!

This week has involved stepping outside of my comfort zone.…

 So, what have I done I hear you ask?

  • Jumped out of an aeroplane?
  • Deep sea diving?
  • Climbed a mountain?

No, none of those things. In fact, all of those things are well within my comfort zone!

This week, I have recorded a video….

For anyone who knows me personally or professionally, they will know that I have a deep-rooted fear and outright hatred, of seeing myself in pictures or on video! I am extremely critical of myself, and as such, I avoid cameras at all costs.

However, I am in the process of developing a new business opportunity, and as part of the preparation for the launch of that opportunity, it was decided that some videos to introduce ourselves would be a nice touch.

So, what was the trick to me doing something that is so far out of my comfort zone? Copious amounts of make-up and an overload of camera filters! I'm only kidding; in fact, I couldn't have chosen a worse time to do videos. This is the first time in history that I have gone this long without seeing my hairdresser or eyebrow technician!

The trick was to focus on the value behind doing the task that makes you so uncomfortable. For me, the value is the new business opportunity, and the value of potential clients getting a better understanding of me via a video, rather than just reading a blog or an article.

I also thought about the past when I have overcome discomfort for the greater good. For example, I love driving, but I couldn’t always jump into a car and drive away. It used to be an uncomfortable task for me. I used to overthink everything about it. "Mirror, signal, manoeuvre…find the biting point…slowly apply the accelerator….stall….!" Now I jump in and go, and as an Audi driver I don’t even need to signal! ;-)

The discomfort around driving and the fear of the driving test was worth overcoming because there was value in the ability to drive. My ability to drive, and the comfort I feel when driving, has afforded me the opportunity to drive to many different places for both work and leisure purposes.

The moral of this week's blog is, therefore, to try something out of your comfort zone; whatever your comfort zone might be. Focus on the value and think of the task itself as a driving lesson. None of us (not even Lewis Hamilton!) did one driving lesson and ended up as the best driver in the world. 

(And on the matter of the new business opportunity and when you can see the videos I have recorded….watch this space….)

Week 8 - Week Ending 08/05/2020 - “A Day Off"

Today is a bank holiday in the UK. The day commemorates the 75th anniversary of VE Day, and after a few admin tasks (including publishing this Project Slippers update), I will be taking a much needed day off…

VE Day, which stands for Victory in Europe Day, celebrates the end of World War Two. This week, my Project Slippers update celebrates the start of a new adventure for me. The adventure is, of course, no-where near as important as the event VE Day marks, but it's still an important one for me personally, and professionally.

Alongside my client work, and in amongst the incessant cleaning that I am still doing, I have spent week 8 of Project Slippers launching a brand new, and very exciting, partnership.

The partnership is called Atonic4 and brings together my own company, Akeno, together with three other organisations. All four organisations are successful in their own right, but together, we are the ultimate medley of skills, experience and practical industry knowledge.

Our first challenge will be to tackle the matter of direct omni-channel selling in the automotive industry. At the moment, automotive brands sell their new cars via their Retailer network. Anyone who has bought a car in the last 20 years will know that this car buying experience is largely unchanged. You may now have the internet to research different models and watch YouTube videos galore, but when it comes to actually buying the car, you often have to physically go into a Dealership, where it's possible to lose 2 hours of your life having to 'do a deal' with a sales person.

We've all experienced the negotiation process; the sales person disappearing into the secret back office to speak to "the boss" in order to "see what he can do". The moment when they look at your car that you're offering in part exchange, air being sucked through their teeth as they touch every dink and scratch, shaking their head before they write on their piece of paper… It's not just me that finds the whole 'theatre' of this process outdated and an incredible waste of my time.

Some brands are now offering online sales capability and different car buying experiences. Indeed, I have been part of some of those revolutions, such as the SEAT Stores in Lakeside in Essex and Westfield in London, and more recently, Volvo's capability to sell cars online, as these case studies discuss:

https://www.akeno.co.uk/case-studies

However, most online sales capability is just a mask. It's a way to capture interest, which is then passed to a Retailer to progress in the standard way. Our mission is to offer choice to customers. And let me be clear, this isn’t a 'bricks OR clicks' choice. It's not a case of online OR in person, and it absolutely does not 'do away' with Retailers. On the contrary, many people, maybe even most people, will still want to touch and test a car before they buy it. They may have questions that are best answered by a product expert in a Dealership. Some way wish to pick up their car in the 'normal' way of the silk cover being removed with a theatrical 'ta dah' in the Dealership itself. Some though, may prefer the car to be delivered to them at home or work.

The point is, that now more than ever, consumers are going to have new demands. Some will be drawn out of fear, for example, not wanting to spend 2 hours in a Dealership due to health concerns. Others may just have got used to transacting online for everything over the last weeks of lockdown, and as such, will continue with those new demands.

The challenge is for the automotive brands to deliver that choice to customers, and deliver it fast. If one brand does not have the capability a consumer demands, that sale will simply go elsewhere.

To find out more about the partnership, our values and our approach, take a look at our website, which was launched this week:

https://atonic4commerce.co.uk/

Right, that's me signing off for the day. Time to sit in the garden with a good book and remember those wonderful people who sacrificed their lives to make it possible for us to live in the free world we enjoy today. In order to fight this new invisible war of COVID19, all we have to do is stay at home; an extraordinarily simple task compared to those we remember on VE Day.

Lest we forget.

Week 9 - Week Ending 15/05/2020 - “Back To Business!"

Business is slowly starting to get back to life after many weeks of lockdown, but are you ready?

Preparations are underway; tape is going down on the floor to mark out 2 meter zones, and new ways of working are being defined, but are you compliant with the new guidelines, and how efficient can you be with the restrictions in place?

Simon Knocker from thebigteam and I have partnered to offer a new suite of services to automotive retailers to get you back to business. Together we have over 25 years experience in automotive, with our most recent projects being out in the field, identifying and implementing efficiencies in the sales and aftersales process and videoing great practices.

We have generated service packages to offer independent, practical guidance on how to maximise your efficiencies without compromising safety or customer experience. We can review and build on the great work you have already done, and we can also support you in the communication of those measures to your customers through the creation of a short customer facing video. You will want your customers to feel safe and confident that they know what to do when they come to your site; a short video is a great way to do this. In addition, to save you time, we have identified a number of specialist suppliers to help you ensure you have the best social distancing measures in place – we will be happy to share this with you.

Take a look at the following link where there is a document to give you more information on the service or contact me anytime for more information; kerry@akeno.co.uk

https://www.akeno.co.uk/services

All onsite services will, of course, be completed in line with Government guidelines and will be conducted in a way so as not to interrupt existing work and custom taking place. 

Working in partnership to safely improve, adapt, evolve.

 

Week 10 - Week Ending 22/05/2020 - “Sunshine and Sleep!"

 

Double figures!

It's a brief one this week, because, quite simply…..I'm exhausted!

The last 10 weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions and a flurry of hard work. When Project Slippers first started, the initial concerns were, of course, health. There was a worry for myself and my family; especially family members who have existing medical conditions that makes COVID19 even more of a threat to them.

Then came getting used to the new normal; the lack of everyday items in the supermarket (toilet rolls, pasta, eggs…), the queuing to even get in, and the thorough cleaning of every product before you put it in the cupboards at home….

And I never thought I’d see the day where I'd say "I have a lovely collection of face masks!" The jury is out about the effectiveness of face masks, but I feel safer wearing one, and if I'm going to wear one, I decided to have a range of them in pretty colours (thanks to my wonderful seamstress friend!)

I soon got used to the 'new normal' and channelled my time into work…which takes me back to the exhausted comment! Over the last few weeks I have:

  • Continued to programme manage a Global rollout of a new system on behalf of an automotive brand.
  • Launched a new partnership with 3 other organisations (https://atonic4commerce.co.uk/).
  • Designed and launched a new service offering in conjunction with thebigteam limited (https://www.akeno.co.uk/services).
  • Continued to develop yet another new business offering (details to follow…at some point! #watchthispsace)

The biggest positive from this week has been the sunshine, and hopefully we'll get at least a day or two of good weather over the bank holiday this weekend. My plan therefore, is to enjoy it! As the boss of my own little empire, I'm going to give myself the long weekend off to recharge ready for week 11.

Have a great bank holiday folks, and don’t forget to stay alert….