We talked to Robert Bron of ABiLiTieS, a corporate services provider specialised in international companies with operations in the Netherlands and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Robert Bron: Fortunately, everyone is in good health, and the business is not affected. I wish all readers the best, both for their family and business.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ABiLiTieS.
Robert Bron: By coincidence, I became an entrepreneur as I was first asked to lead a company. Until then, I had been legal counsel/account manager. I had commercial tasks in this role, which I started to enjoy when I got convinced that we were providing good services. After a few years, I created my own business with two colleagues and named it Abilities Trust. Despite the fact that we operate in a difficult market, the company is a success.
How does ABiLiTieS innovate?
Robert Bron: We try to innovate in multiple ways. In our business, communication with the client is important, just like compliance and accounting processes. For example, we use compliance software with incredible amounts of information on sanctions-related parties and their affiliates. Also, bookkeeping can be done so much more effectively than in the past. Since recent, we can also identify clients online. During Covid, this has shown to be really time-saving and efficient.
Also, do not forget ABiLiTieS Trust’s marketing. Part of the success is that we can be found on the internet and social media. Next to our network, this is an important way to get into contact with our clients. In our branch, this is still unusual to do.
For our clients, innovation brings, for example, cost-effective virtual office services. The post is scanned and sent out by email to the client.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Robert Bron: We are active in a business that is hard not hit by Covid. We managed to even get in more clients as they were looking for cost savings, for example, by terminating their Dutch business’s rent and working online using the registered address services of our Amsterdam office.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Robert Bron: We are in a comfortable position heaving a healthy business. So we were in a position that we could help our clients. For example, by finding ways to save on costs or offering a discount on business address services to help them through these difficult times. I admit that it is not only charity. Also for us, it is better if our clients will get through this difficult period. It is great if entrepreneurs are thankful for your help, and it will really help to establish a long-term relationship with your clients.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Robert Bron: As most entrepreneurs do, we use several online meeting platforms for staying in contact with colleagues and clients. We always try to look at our costs and try to be flexible. A good example is the office space: think of it. Do you have to be at this specific location, and do you still require the same size now more and more people work from home?
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Robert Bron: We have competitors from multiple fields. So far, we very much focused on international clients. This worked well as Amsterdam has shown to be a magnet for entrepreneurs from all over the world. I foresee this trend to continue for some time and will focus on the quality of our corporate services to international clients.
Your final thoughts?
Robert Bron: ABiLiTieS is are aware that many businesses have a hard time. It is not only Covid. Everyone forgets Brexit, which also has a major impact on businesses all over the world. We were happy to be able to solve a lot of problems for UK-based companies that import into the EU. By setting up a Dutch branch or subsidiary, we managed to reduce the import hassle they experienced. Some UK businesses could not even transport companies that were willing to ship their products to the EU. It gives a great feeling and it is almost an honor to be able to support all these companies.