The importance of culture in times of crisis

As we entered these uncharted times, Physical Company, like many other businesses, had to make a decision: shut up shop and hope to emerge on the other side, or strive to stay open and continue to support customers.

We opted for the latter. It hasn’t been without its challenges, not least implementing effective teamwork from home and social distancing in our offices and warehouse; the safety and wellbeing of our team has been our top priority throughout.

But we’ve made it happen, because we want to live up to our mission statement: First for Fitness Solutions. That has meant doing everything we can to support our customers throughout this crisis so they can, in turn, support their members and end users.

We’ve always prided ourselves on our service, on the genuine relationships we form with our customers. We were determined to maintain those same standards through this difficult time.

Of course, that’s all very well for me to say, as managing director of my family-owned company. But you know something special is happening when your staff follow suit; in the last few weeks, the response of our team at Physical Company has blown me away.

As with so many businesses across the fitness sector, we had to pivot almost overnight. We’ve gone from being a commercial business to, for the most part, a consumer-facing one. We’ve gone from fulfilling large commercial gym orders to small individual exerciser orders who are seeking high quality, good value equipment for their homes.

We’ve also quickly developed new ways to support our customers, with a new B2B2C model. There’s been immediate help on-hand: free online fitness content for operators to share with members, plus discount codes so those members can also get a great deal on our equipment. There’s been assistance with longer-term planning too, for operators using this hiatus to review and enhance their physical offering.

Ultimately, we’ve been there to give whatever support we can.

And our team has been at the heart of this, all hands-on deck, taking on tasks well outside of their normal roles. They’ve been passionate ambassadors for our brand, listening to customers and doing the most important thing they possibly could in these troubled times: being there. That in itself has been incredibly positively received.

Across the sector, we’re hearing how this crisis has been a lesson in being nimble, dynamic, using existing assets in a different way – and all of that is true.

But most of all, for me, it has been a lesson in the importance of culture. Before now, I don’t think I ever stopped to trumpet ‘our way of doing things’ as anything special. It just… was. But now, observing the loyalty and the morale of our team, their genuine desire to be First for Fitness Solutions even in a crisis of this magnitude… It fills me with huge pride and gratitude, and reinforces my belief that our decision to stay open – to be there for our customers throughout this crisis – was absolutely the right one.

John Halls - Managing Director