Lawrence Low, founder of Yayasan Perintis Malaysia on physical training and fitness platforms.
First of all, how are you & your family doing in these Covid-19 times?
Lawrence Low: My family & I are doing well during COVID-19. Definitely, we are cared by Malaysia’s laws in terms of the Movement Control Order (MCO) for the past more than a year. Many of us were strained at home, businesses were affected but generally, we’re doing safely. None of us was positively tested & vaccination has arrived in Malaysia so hopefully, it will reach us very soon.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Yayasan Perintis Malaysia.
Lawrence Low: I founded the School of Life in 2016 after I founded Yayasan Perinitis Malaysia in 2015. We are a company that organizes campaigns, branding, PR for the government, corporates & SMEs. We also do a lot of initiatives for the schools, children, young people & even the young working adults. We try to do unconventional & innovative programs as we aim to exceed the standard norm in doing events, seminars/talks & so on.
How does Yayasan Perintis Malaysia innovate?
Lawrence Low: So, during this period, a lot of programs & events have to be cancelled & postponed because physical events were not advisable. Therefore, School Of Life has pivoted & innovated into online programs, Facebook live interviews, YouTube channels & etcetera. A lot of youth are now moving on to online space & platforms which make it a great opportunity for us to maintain & build relationships with them.
We innovated by actually getting into this space, creating more content, creating more programs digitally. But in my view, the certain capacity of physical events are still very important & still pivotal as well as very important to have this interaction between the companies or the brand together with their target group. So, the company that’s started with 100% groundwork events is now slowly making its way to 50% physical & 50% online.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Lawrence Low: Definitely, the COVID-19 affected our business finances negatively especially during the early days because most of our events are scheduled to be physical but due to the pandemic, it hindered us from doing so. Hence, it resulted in having zero programs that we can organize.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources & what are the lessons learned?
Lawrence Low: It was very difficult to actually decide whether I should remove people from the team but thankfully, during that period of time, we did not drop a single person as we retained what we could. In fact, there is no pay cut & they were working from home as we take great importance in ensuring the safety of the team.
One of the lessons I’ve learned is that the company needs to be ready as unfortunate circumstances such as the current pandemic is something we would never predict. This would also ensure that the company operation doesn’t go haywire or turn upside down during the trying time. To summarise, it’s important to retain and maintain the morale of the team over the difficult period & when the pandemic is over, with the strong will of the team, we will be able to actually do better after that.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Lawrence Low: Usually, we also would be quite physical with our operations such as physical meetings & meetups but because of Covid-19, a lot of things went online. We have never ever had online meetings but now we’re already utilizing Zoom, Whatsapp, Google & Microsoft video calls to have our meetings & discussions whether it’s among the team or our clients.
Hence, this definitely has changed our life as physical meetings are now being minimized, and using these tools are actually quite efficient in terms of reaching out to people as quickly as we want. Not to mention that internally, we have opted for some system where we could track our team’s performance.
Did you benefit from any government grants & did that help keep your business afloat?
Lawrence Low: We benefited from the government’s PERKESO grant which actually had helped us a little bit in terms of the salary payment. But nevertheless, the company still needs to survive by its own cash flow in which I feel that the government can just do that much & it’s actually up to us to keep our business afloat. Therefore, finding any opportunity during the crisis is very important for us to keep moving forward.
Your final thoughts?
Lawrence Low: Personally, I feel that the Covid-19 has caught a lot of people by surprise & attention as clearly that none of us was actually prepared for this pandemic. This made us realize what are certain things that we think are important but now it’s actually not so such as meetings. We felt that all meetings & meetups must be done physically, that we must meet people & go out whether it’s over dinner or wherever. But in fact, some meetings can just be done online as it can save up time on travelling & other expenses.
Overall, yes, Covid-19 has changed our lifestyle in a certain capacity but nevertheless, we need to get used to it. But we need to keep in mind that not all new ways are actually good ways because there are still preferences for old “methodologies” that we decide to continue to retain & use. The most important thing to note is to be flexible, to be able to work closely with your team & family by supporting each other mentally over this very trying time. To conclude, let’s stay strong, speak to the people that you need to speak & have faith that the bad days will be over very soon. Thank you.
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