How The Pandemic Has Impacted The Business
Like all companies across the UK, the pandemic has had a dramatic impact on Ethos Asset Finance and The Electric Broker. We know first-hand how hard it has been to continue to work, and the financial implications which have resulted in some difficult decisions for all business across the world. Each lockdown has presented a new challenge.
Chris Brown, our Managing Director said
“This last year has been tough for us and our clients. We have strong relationships with a number of clients who have unfortunately had to change industries completely. It has been hard to see the impact COVID has had on some of the sectors we work with, especially the chauffeur and private hire industry.
“Where we have been able to, we have continued to support our staff, and offered expert advice to our clients, to help ease the struggle. It has been an uphill battle to ensure the long-term success of Ethos and The Electric Broker.
“2021 has brought hope and there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. Business appears to be buoyant. Additionally, we have been fortunate enough to bring in three new members of staff during the pandemic. We are excited to return to a sense of normal, hopefully, this year.”
The First Lockdown
The first lockdown brought about a significant impact on the business. Having moved to our new offices the day before lockdown being enforced, we turned the key in the door with not an employee in sight. As we swiftly implemented new systems to enable us to work from our homes, the reality and speed the change had come about left our customers, lenders and suppliers facing similar issues. Dealer retail outlets were closed and trying to manage a similar set of circumstances until systems and processes could be developed and adjusted to or the lockdown was eased. There was a huge air of uncertainty with no real end in sight.
Due to the severity of the first lockdown, our main industries, chauffeur, and private hire, disappeared overnight. Understandably, nobody was looking for asset finance services during this time; instead, our clients needed reassurance, support, and advice on how to manage their funding portfolio.
The Most Difficult Period
Unfortunately, due to the decrease in business, we had to utilise the furlough scheme for several staff members. During the first lockdown, we only had two full-time staff continue to work. With the support of Chris & Carolyn our Office Manager, Becky and Sales Manager, Kirsten were the driving force for getting us through those harsh months.
Kirsten’s has given her reflections on the last 12 months
“For so many reasons, 2020 will always be an unforgettable year for me. Being one of the only staff members working was really difficult. I was hearing first-hand how our clients were struggling to keep their businesses going. It was heart-breaking.
Working from home meant there was no time to switch off. Being in lockdown really took a toll on me.
Personally, I was lucky enough to have something special to keep me motivated. My partner and I welcomed our first baby during the pandemic. He has been a lifesaver; I don’t know how I would have got through that initial lockdown without him.
It has been reassuring to see our clients starting to improve in 2021. I can’t wait until events start again and we can begin to meet people.”
Becky our Office Manager said
“What a year… If only we had known what we know now. These last 12 months have brought out the best in the team at Ethos. Showing determination in the face of real adversity and we have been very fortunate that our team have been so adaptable.
“There have been many moments of highs and lows on many levels for us all, however, I am very proud the company has remained open throughout the most challenging of times, continuing to support our customers and assist them with their funding needs.
“We are delighted to have welcomed three new members of staff during this time as we continue on our growth path and expansion of both Ethos and The Electric Broker. We are now looking forward to the future, growing our database and working with our existing clients to secure future funding.”
A Glimmer of Hope
As we eased out of the first lockdown in August, workflow returned to relatively steady levels. We could bring back one team member from furlough and looked for expansion opportunities by hiring a dedicated digital marketing executive to help grow the Ethos and Electric Broker brand.
Our team could finally enjoy the new eco-friendly head office at the Regional Agriculture Centre in Harrogate. Several of our clients were able to revisit funding as their businesses had started to recover.
During this time, we helped our clients purchase new assets and get much-needed cash through the Governments CBILS Loan Scheme, which currently has an application deadline of 31st March 2021.
Second Lockdown in November
The second lockdown seemed more manageable in comparison to the first. We had systems in place for working from home. Also, we were in a position where none of our staff had to be furloughed. Furthermore, there was a timeframe for easing the lockdown, we knew it was only temporary until the beginning of December. This brought about confidence and more comfort for our clients and lenders.
Following on from the second lockdown, there was hope that the pandemic was beginning to ease, especially with the development of vaccines. The start of 2021 brought with it a new level of optimism that the New Year would be different compared to 2020.
The Third (and Hopefully Final) Lockdown
Like the first lockdown, the third one has created new challenges for companies. Compared to the second, it has been significantly longer. However, as the vaccine rollout has gathered momentum, there is positivity about the country returning to ‘normal’.
The Government has outlined plans to reduce restrictions, with the hope that by 21st June, all restrictions will cease.
We are fortunate to have strengthened our sales team with two new members of staff during this lockdown. Sati Gill and James Ragan have joined us as Sales & Account Managers. It has been an alternative way of taking on new team members. They have both had to start by working from home, without the opportunity to interact in the office with the rest of the team.
As with most people, the pandemic has been a tough period for Sati. She said
“2020 was an extremely difficult year with COVID-19. Movements were restricted and friendships were put on hold. This was a tough year, both mentally and physically. Like many others, I have been unable to see my mum & dad and friends to weather the storm.
There has been a glimmer of hope in 2021 as I started a new job and got introduced to my new team for 24 hours. Afterwards, we were advised to go into a new further lockdown.
Learning to adjust to a new job, new team members and new restrictions proved to be a balancing act, of which I am proud of where I have achieved an improved equilibrium and started a new chapter in my life.
I have been missing the social interactions which would have happened when joining a new company.”
Looking to the Future
These last 12 months have been unforgettable, but not for the right reasons. Both personally and as businesses, we have all been impacted by this. As everyone begins to get access to the vaccine, we are excited to be back too normal.
We are looking forward to seeing our clients recover and begin to thrive. We cannot wait to continue to do what we do best, provide a professional service to help our customers find financial solutions that work for them.
Head over to our contact page and let us know if we can help with any asset finance queries you might have.