We talked to Aurel Greiner of revendo AG about buying and selling used phones, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Aurel Greiner: My family and I are doing very well. Fortunately, we have not been infected with Covid-19 so far. Unfortunately, however, like many others, we have also suffered from the measures imposed by the authorities, which in some cases severely restrict our social life.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded revendo AG.
Aurel Greiner: I originally wanted to study energy and environmental technology. But during various internships, I realized that I couldn’t do what I wanted from A to Z in any company. In addition, sustainability is pushed into the background by many companies as soon as it comes to business, even in companies that present themselves to the outside world as pioneers of the energy transition. That’s why I decided to start my own company.
How does revendo AG innovate?
Aurel Greiner: We are always on the lookout for new opportunities and try to involve staff in the brainstorming process as much as possible. We are not afraid to start from scratch again and again in many areas. This is the only way we can always find the best solution everywhere. We just launched a simple idea of competition last month, and it is always amazing how many great ideas the employees have.
Of course, we also pursue a clear strategy and are currently focusing primarily on growth. We are venturing out of the Swiss market and want to continue our growth in the European market.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Aurel Greiner: Due to the lockdowns and the associated closures of our 9 sales locations, we had to accept massive sale losses. We reacted very quickly and developed a simple online repair solution within a few days, which was well-received by our customers. In addition, we were able to compensate for part of the loss of sales with our second pillar, the online shop, due to the increased demand. Once again, it has been shown that a balanced mix between physical and online retail is important and is an effective strategy, even in times of crisis.
In operations, we have done everything possible to protect our employees’ health and have developed and implemented appropriate protection concepts. During the first lockdown, the employees’ uncertainty was very high, and it was also important to give the employees security and let them feel that this crisis can be managed together. In the meantime, however, we are all well-tried professionals in dealing with Covid-19. Home office, short-time work and mandatory masking enrich our daily vocabulary and are everywhere.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Aurel Greiner: So far, we have not had to announce any layoffs and have been able to adjust staffing levels to the situation with natural fluctuations. However, as the situation is still uncertain and there is a lack of planning certainty due to the almost weekly changes in government actions, we must always remain flexible and consider all options to keep the company above water. However, we are convinced that we can achieve this without layoffs. Staff departures will only be compensated if necessary, and the employees must, therefore show more flexibility and also learn new tasks.
Due to the strong growth we have had in the last few years, the number of staff we had already hired had become unbalanced in relation to the now less strongly growing turnover. In the future, we will have to plan staffing levels more quickly and have also developed tools to measure productivity in all departments in a timely manner so that we can react more quickly in the future. We have also increased staff flexibility and will continue to do so more in the future. Employees who can flexibly do more tasks are more valuable, more productive, more motivated, and the company can thus quickly adapt to changing situations.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Aurel Greiner: We need to focus more on independent work than ever. In the past, we often rely on team spirit. Today, we need employees whose innovation also works on their own.
Did you benefit from any government grants and did that help keep your business afloat?
Aurel Greiner: Yes, during the lockdown, a large part of our sales staff and also some at the head office were on short-time work. This contributed significantly to not communicating unpleasant staffing decisions. Without the government’s help through short-time work, it would not have been possible to keep the staff, because of the lack of sales in stationary sales has put a lot of pressure on profitability. We are glad that the short-time work was so well-supported by our employees and that they also contributed to the survival of the company.
Your final thoughts?
Aurel Greiner: Besides the dark side of this pandemic, there are also some positive things that we have learned. Summarized in one word, it means above all flexibility. So far, we have never had to deal with setbacks. The crisis brought us back to reality, you could almost say.
Nevertheless, we did not give up. We bought two companies in 2020 and grew to 130 employees in the meantime.
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