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How Small Business Adapted in Lockdown: The inside story
There's no denying that the lockdown period has presented its fair share of challenges, not just for service providers or businesses, but also for their customers. We've been amazed at the skilled and resourceful responses to the lockdown that we've seen in our community, so we thought we would showcase a few in a new series 'Triumph through Adversity: The Agility and Courage of our small business community'.  

Here's interview number 1 with Gary Newell of Jigsaw Property and Maintenance… 

  Ellie: What's been the most challenging part of running a construction business during lockdown?  

Gary: The biggest challenge for us has been adapting to the regulations that encourage social distancing. As has always been the case, construction sites require a lot of different people with a lot of different skills; electricians, plumbers, builders. It's a lot of people in one place, so of course, we've had to adapt. We've limited the number of people on site at one time and made sure to stay as distanced as possible.   

We accept we must do everything possible to keep our tradesmen and clients safe, but these regulations do mean projects are extended, taking up more of my time, and costs can go up as its harder to get people working simultaneously.   

Another challenge is having tradesmen self-isolating. I've had people on my team caught out by the new travel restrictions and having to quarantine, or having to self-isolate because of family members being ill. When you are trying to get a project finished in two weeks this can be a real killer! We are a small company and only have one electrician, one plumber, and so on so if one of those is knocked out of the equation it's a real headache.   

We've also experienced some delays in materials due to the lockdown - we spoke more about this and Boris Johnson's Build, Build, Build scheme in this blog post.   

Ellie: How has Jigsaw Property Maintenance and Construction adapted to support its customers? Any tips?   

Gary: We've spent time keeping up to date and implementing any changes in health and safety regulations as a result of Covid-19. Sometimes the regulations are hard to interpret so it's been really useful having online business communities to talk to and check facts with. I belong to the national Facebook group Builders Talk. I also run a local Builders chat site, Bordon Builders Network. These sites are only for people in the construction industry so they are a great place to get the right information for trades.    

I had a bit of down time at home for a few weeks in the height of the lockdown when the Government actually ordered building sites to close. I used this time to get my admin and books in order, I hired a VA to help me get things organised, and I was also able to design and order new site clothing and branded protective clothing too.   

As you all know, face to face networking has become so much harder. So, I decided it was time to get a proper website sorted out and invest some time and money in online marketing. You can take a look the site to see previous projects, review our services, read a bit about us and book a free call (link to contact page). We wanted to make sure our customers had all the information before they contact us so when they're ready to get in touch, they already know that we are trustworthy and safe to do business with during these challenging times.  

We've also been working hard to produce great social content so our network of builders and our customers can stay up to date with the latest industry news and see some of our exciting new projects.  

Ellie: Are there any additional opportunities that you might not have got without lockdown?  

Gary: It was really good to have a few weeks at home to reflect on the future of the business. We've recently invested in our marketing activities through SiGNAL Bordon and we probably wouldn't have done that without lockdown, as I was always too busy. We've been a part of the SiGNAL BiZHUB for some time now and it's such a valuable network but the HuBBUB Marketing Package (link) has been a lifesaver and we even got our first lead from it in the first week!   

Ellie: Are there any changes you have made that you think will become permanent?  

Gary: Yes! The VA I mentioned above. I met Lisa through the SiGNAL BiZHUB and she's been an amazing addition ??" definitely permanent!  

Ellie: Thanks Gary, and finally, what was best about coming OUT of Lockdown at last?   

Gary: Definitely being able to get back to football training with Fleet Spurs, and back to the gym and spa. ????   

Ellie: Thanks very much for sharing your Lockdown experiences with us