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Hello Dorking’s MONEY BOX – Plan, evolve & Survive in 2020 and beyond

23 April 2020

Plan, evolve & Survive in 2020 and beyond

Hello Dorking’s Money Box, talks openly with Anthony, owner and founder of Anthony & Wakefield Company who saw COVID coming in January.  February was about planning, March, planning was implemented.  Lockdown – they were ready.

Anthony Wakefield & Company if you don’t know, are an established Fine Art insurance brokers based here in Dorking.  With over thirty years of experience in insurance and a solid and loyal customer base, Anthony saw the signs that COVID was going to be catastrophic and started to plan for lockdown in January. 

Hearing and watching the news as the virus spread Anthony Wakefield & Company were quick to react. Normally, an insurance company can only contact their clients a month before, but after seeking industry approval, this was extended to two months.  They sent out all their renewal documents, contacted all their clients and took the opportunity to clean up their Database.

Installing new telecommunications was important.  From working in their offices in town, they needed systems in place to allow employees and indeed the business to work remotely as it was clear Britain was moving towards a lockdown.  Anthony Wakefield & Company streamlined their business practices so by the time the end of March came they were ready.

This level of planning enabled Anthony Wakefield & Company to respond and act to COVID, which in Anthony’s words saved them from being in a bit of pickle today.

Anthony can’t stress enough that to be agile in business and respond to a crisis saves businesses.

Talking candidly about the Antique Dealers in West Street, which could be greatly under threat due to shop closures, he feels that many were not very well prepared for the threat of closures due to the virus, but that they should take encouragement in the way that online salerooms have assisted other dealers to continue trading and  he is hopeful that local auctioneers, such as  Crows and Windibanks, will be able to recommence their sales once the lockdown is gradually lifted

Anthony stresses that some auction houses have done well to respond to COVID and have actually found business is up.  When asked why the answer was simple, people are investing in Antiques.  This is something that will hold its value.  If invested well Antiques will most certainly increase value over time.

However, and it is a sad fact, for every success there is a failure and that is an unfortunate concern.  With central government releasing grants, Anthony sees these grants as an opportunity for businesses to take a deep breath and evaluate and plan for a new future and brave new world.

The 21st Century is all about having an online presence, visibility and engagement with our clients and customers online.  For those businesses that don’t respond to COVID will, unfortunately, fall to the wayside.  However, if we take advantage of COVID and act now they can survive, perhaps even thrive.

Anthony’s honest view of the High Street and how it has changed overnight is not easy to hear, but the fact is, if we are not careful shops that are closed might not return.  Businesses are learning to work from home, and may not return to their office space.  This will leave holes in the High Streets that are already struggling across the UK.

The question is – what can we do to get the High Street back?  The answer – community and sustainability.  Now more then ever our community, with all its new-found warmth for humanity and a slower pace of life, which as been forced upon us by COVID, means that supporting, shopping and loving local will keep our town centres alive and embrace what was a growing trend pre-COVID – sustainability. 

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