Six CEOs Who Successfully Navigated a Pandemic
Companies Ready to Thrive in a Post-Pandemic World
In the midst of a pandemic, our clients continue to thrive. With so many businesses struggling, our smart, brave, dedicated group of entrepreneurs has acted quickly to ensure their companies outlast COVID-19.
These clients have continued to inspire us during the last few difficult months. We’re awed and impressed by the work they’ve done. Today, you get a chance to hear how other entrepreneurs have navigated a global pandemic to find success.
Ben Bergeron, CEO
CrossFit New England
The premier CrossFit gym in New England.
“As our team changed and our business model evolved, we created an ‘Emergency Accountability Chart,’ quickly identifying the necessary jobs and who best GWC'd [Gets it, Wants it, Has the Capacity] those roles.
For the past 12 years we have been running a business that had clear priorities: our Team comes first, our Customers come second, our Community is third, followed by Partners, and finally profits. While this seems backwards—since we didn't have more than 3-4 months of free cash—we created a loyal customer base that volunteered to continue to pay even after we cancelled their memberships.
Action is the antidote to anxiety. When [the pandemic] first started, I was stressed and scared. But once I started taking massive action I not only felt better, I loved the challenge of fighting for my business. It was like the first 2 years of being an entrepreneur all over again.
‘Be overly responsive and responsible’ was the core value we leaned on most. We were the first CrossFit gym in the United States to close (responsive), and we are still paying our coaches 100% of their salary (responsible).”
Jared Auerbach, CEO
Seafood company connecting local fishermen to restaurants and retailers.
“EOS helped our business respond to COVID-19 by having defined core values and a well-defined mission/goal that made the important decisions easy. We are all here for the same reasons, and we are good at making important decisions decisively.
We moved very quickly to furlough people. Because we are all here for the same reasons it was sort of like a ‘mutual decision’ between leadership and staff.
I learned that our greatest asset is the organization of humans that we have built. This doesn't show on my balance sheet, but it is by far the most important thing to me. I've also learned that my pre-coronavirus life as an entrepreneur in the seafood industry was already absolutely insane, so I was well prepared for this madness.
We used all of our core values to get through this…’fishermen first,’ ‘no excuses,’ ‘professionals only,’ and ‘be the best.’”
Simon Anderson, CEO
AWS Managed Cloud Service Provider
“We used scorecards to track key data points and trends, enabling us to quickly identify areas where we needed to adapt to the COVID health and economic crises.
For example, we track ‘Customers-at-Risk’ and associated recurring revenue. We saw that the financial downturn was increasing this metric in March. We rapidly solved this using the IDS framework at leadership and management meetings, and created customer concession guidelines to quickly reduce our fees and level of services for affected customers, ensuring that they downgraded but did not churn.
In the first week of April, we decided on ‘One Big Thing’ to focus our team—and deliver for customers and AWS in Q2 2020—Operational Excellence. Our leadership and managers quickly refined our Mission business operating system and agreed on specific Objectives and Key Results for Q2 that will maximize our engagement and support for customers in this time, and ensure the healthy ongoing operation of our services and business. We’re tracking well against all these OKRs, and our customer satisfaction scores and feedback has remained high.
We have been keeping a running ‘Issues List’ and using at least 1 hour 15 minutes of our weekly 2 hour leadership (L10) meeting to prioritize solving key issues, allowing us to "stay ahead" of the crisis.
We have also implemented weekly rollout of company adaptations like a 100% distributed workforce, weekly 30 minute ‘All Hands’ meetings to regularly communicate our major goals progress with our distributed team and receive their input, and innovations like our FlexStipend of $300 per month to each team member to contribute toward their work-from-home costs like home workspace usage and cleaning, internet access, cell phone, wellness (e.g. subscriptions to home workout apps).”
Scott Cornell, CEO
Digital Customer Service Provider.
“EOS is an integral part of everything we do, and COVID-19 didn’t change that. Early on, we realized we might need to transition to a virtual work environment. We had to figure out what it would take to go virtual and get everyone on the same page, and EOS was a big part of working through all the logistics involved. In the end, it was a seamless transition for us.
It took quite a bit of effort and programming to go virtual, and we realized it was more work to manage a company remotely. And that’s where the infrastructure of EOS came into play: scorecards, metrics, and daily communications are key EOS supports as we continue to run the business virtually.
As an executive team, we’re now working toward getting back to normal and figuring out what that will look like. We had a great L10 session on how to reopen our doors and get back to business safely and properly.
EOS has built trust among the leadership team, so we are capable of having spirited debates in which we don’t all agree. We’re used to doing that—that’s just part of who we are now—and that’s been very important as we’ve navigated this crisis. We also put together a COVID-19 taskforce and are working toward getting back to normal.
The core value we leaned on the most was ‘taking care of each other.’ It’s been hard to be remote, but our teams are doing great at staying in touch and reaching out to one another.”
Luke Chapman, CEO
Full-service rentals, hospitality and property management for vacation homes on Cape Cod.
“A plan is a framework that allows pivoting priorities as circumstances evolve. At a minimum, EOS supported us by creating an existing trusted leadership team who rallied and made adjustments.
About half the team focused on operating as though we were going to have a season, and the other half focused on layoffs, renegotiating contracts, and capital. Everyone focused on their part and we got it done.
Our core values are who we are. The one we relied upon the most was ‘The Obstacle is the Opportunity.’ This allowed us to focus on what we could do to maximize the outcome given various challenges. It gave us confidence in restructuring contracts and helped us define a very fair force Majeure term sheet.”
Scott Duncan, CEO
F&M Tool and Die
Machine shop for manufacturing and repair of production tools.
“We mistakenly thought we were not essential early on, and we took two weeks to shut down and get everyone furloughed. Then we realized we were essential, and now we’re up and running for the most part.
In March, we had been feeling the effect of the slowdown. It was time to let people go. No matter what, letting people go is a really difficult decision. EOS gave me, on a tactical level, the language to talk about who we were going to let go, and why. We used an afternoon to let people go, recover, and talk about what was going on with people we decided to keep. It was pretty clear to all of us what we needed to do, so there was no hesitation about doing what needed to be done.
EOS is how I built trust with myself and my team, and a level of trust within the team. EOS made it so there was no politics, no difficulty. EOS makes the decision so obvious you can't look away from it.
Letting people go was the best thing we did to stay afloat. I hate to say it was a triumph of EOS; I don't like letting people go, and it still bothers me. It wasn’t pleasant, but EOS gave us the clarity that allowed us to make speedy and accurate decisions.
Throughout this crisis, I learned who I want to be in the trenches with in my business. I saw a lot of people put ego aside and step up, and I was really impressed with that. Those are the people I want working next to me.
I also found out my business is more resilient than I ever gave it credit for. This company that's been around for 40 years has been through tough times before, and this is something we'll get through. We have a whole world of opportunity now to get the right people in the right seats and refine our core values further.
The core value we leaned on the most was ‘always improving.’ Another core value we really relied on is ‘committed to service.’ We had opportunities to quote new injection molds for face shields, etc. We were really motivated just to be in consideration for those jobs. And the level of stuff people were doing outside of their roles to keep the wheels moving—deliveries, running machines, etc.—was absolutely committed to service.
I'm not the world's best communicator, and getting through a crisis has a lot to do with communication. Integrators are really good at that communication, but it’s harder for Visionaries. EOS made it easier to focus on the task at hand, and that’s been helpful for me.”