Tees Talk: Rising to the challenge in testing times

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

We asked the owners of Teesside hospitality, holiday and beauty outlets about the challenges and rewards they have faced in our ‘new normal’ world.

Emily Bentley, co-owner, Bentley’s Coffee Shop

The most challenging element of opening for business since lockdown was the concern for our team and our customers’ safety. At the end of the day, lives are more important than turnover.

Following meticulous planning, once the R-rate dropped considerably, we re-opened as a takeaway. Then, when we were able to, we re-opened as an eat-in, ensuring our new model was as safe as possible. Seeing our team rise to the challenge of the new way of working has been very rewarding.

Also, though businesses stopped trading, people have not. Whilst in lockdown, we were given the opportunity to open three more coffee shops outside of the region. Out of adversity comes opportunity. We’ve grasped it and are ready for the new future!

Jason Adams, managing director, Rockliffe Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort

Whilst we are delighted to be safely welcoming guests back to Rockliffe Hall, the re-opening of the spa has proved challenging. Restrictions on thermal facilities and treatments means we currently can’t offer spa days or breaks, and we’ve reduced capacities for social distancing which has had a knock-on effect to other areas of the resort.

However, it’s rewarding to finally be able to do what we do best – provide hospitality! We are so happy to be able to welcome guests back to stay and dine with us.

We’ve experienced record levels of demand from the domestic market, with many people choosing to holiday in the UK, which has been a great boost.

Judith Alderson, director of corporate travel, Dawson and Sanderson

Our clients’ safety is our main priority and borders closing, travel restrictions and airline cancellations with no notice was a massive challenge whilst we worked round the clock to bring our travellers home.

Adapting to remote working under these pressures was particularly testing. Our team has received massive commendations for their quick response and 24-hour service, and we have seen a new appreciation in the value of using a corporate travel agency.

Having a number of staff on furlough has meant we have all taken on extra roles and learnt new skills, which is a positive.

Vicki Murray, director, Poppy’s Hairdressing

The realisation that Covid is here to stay for the foreseeable future meant our clients’ journey through the salons had to change. Fellow director Janice Auton and I researched and created new systems and protocols, then trained the teams in our new ways.

Offering webinars and sanitising qualifications prior to re-opening, and ensuring the teams felt safe in their workplace was paramount.

We are truly thankful to the loyalty and patience of the hundreds of clients that we contacted when opening day was announced. They, and the teams, have embraced our Covid protocol with trust and understanding. Poppy’s clients are simply thrilled we are still here.

Amy Hanlon, owner, Bellus Amor lingerie boutique, Hartlepool

Being a bricks and mortar business only, having the boutique closed for 15 weeks solid was a huge challenge for me. Luckily, I thrive on challenges and I soon realised that communication with customers was crucial in order to regain their confidence in shopping local after internet sales had soared during lockdown.

I adapted a new way for the boutique to operate on an appointment-only system. This offers the customer a unique lingerie concierge service with no queuing, no waiting and a one-to-one bespoke bra fitting experience.

The phenomenal response from customers has been incredibly rewarding and I have been fully booked since re-opening and now well into August, which is wonderful.