MH UPGRADES: Make The Switch
Men's Health South Africa|September - October 2020
When the pandemic hit SA, local businesses were given a brutal ultimatum: adapt or die. Here’s how these companies flipped the script to survive (and thrive) in the face of an unprecedented crisis.
KIERAN LEGG

Lockdown has throttled the SA economy. There’s no way around it: once-thriving industries have been gutted by the coronavirus’s relentless spread, and quarantine’s heavy-handed restrictions have delivered the final blow. With restaurants, tech startups, and major companies shuttering in the wake of the disease’s warpath, there are a few enterprises that have managed to stay standing. Their secret: creative thinking and quick implementation. “COVID-19 has, in the space of a few weeks, accelerated the e-commerce adoption curve in SA by several years,” says Bottles App co-CEO and co-founder Vincent Viviers.

There is a life raft, but you need to swim fast to snag a spot onboard.

The Muscle

For Chris Oman, otherwise known as Coach Chris, the goal has always been to make sure he can keep paying his staff. The Head Coach and GM at Cape CrossFit hasn’t had to retrench anyone, and it’s testament to how the brand has been able to adapt to South Africa’s new rules of engagement. But to keep his staff employed, he had to keep the business afloat. And to do that, he needed to give customers a “value proposition” that could stack up (or at least come close) to the experience of training at a Box. No easy task. Oman and his team were prepped for SA going into quarantine. They’d been keeping close tabs on what was happening in the UK and the US, and made the decision to close their gyms early when it was clear COVID-19 was going to spread like wildfire.

His approach: “We are in essence a coaching business and not just a gym where you swipe your card and train alone,” he says. “So, it was natural to set up a system that would allow our members to get the same level of coaching.”

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