Gym+Coffee: How a pandemic couldn’t stop one business from achieving record company sales

The old saying “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” may prompt an eye-roll these days. But for Diarmuid McSweeney, co-founder of apparel store Gym+Coffee, the well-travelled saying applies.

“As a business owner I can feel quite passionate about it because it’s a mixture of my passions, my background in brand strategy, and the lifestyle I'm into,” says Diarmuid. But the coronavirus pandemic presented McSweeney and his colleagues with a growing list of problems that passion alone couldn’t tackle.

“Within six weeks of planning and setting our strategy for the year, it was completely thrown out the window.” So how did Gym+Coffee manage not only to adapt, but to thrive during a global pandemic, all the while keeping that passion burning?

Make the most of a Business Profile on Google

Before lockdown, Gym+Coffee’s Business Profile on Google wasn’t top of mind when it came to day-to-day operations. But after the company was forced to close its stores, ensuring its online presence was as strong as possible became a priority.

“We've been surprised how effective the Business Profile has been, and how important that's been to the customer on Google Maps and Search, who depends on that information,” explains Diarmuid. “Now that we've been using it we can see we've been getting massive results from it in terms of views and engagement when we post updates and photos. So, I think at a very basic level, claim that GMB profile yourself and keep it up to date.”

Be sure you can meet demand

With stores throughout the country closing, more and more people were shopping online. While this was hugely important for Gym+Coffee, keeping up with the unexpected demand online proved to be quite a challenge.

“We did so well at the start of lockdown because everybody was shopping online,” says Diarmuid. “While that’s great, it actually created a huge supply-chain problem. We thought we might have a demand issue, but we had a major supply issue, which took a lot of juggling.”

And not only was there a challenge in meeting demand, there was also the reality of engaging with new customers. “Even though online shopping has been around for a while, in the last four months there's been a type of customer who's come online who's completely new to the experience. That’s been really interesting and a great opportunity for us, but it also required us to rethink our strategy somewhat, and how we generally do things.”

The right tools can shape new opportunities

While times have been undoubtedly tough for so many businesses, the lockdown has also presented some with new opportunities. No one wanted this to happen, but for those lucky to make it through the crisis, with major hurdles also comes a chance to learn.

“Lockdown has highlighted the potential of our online store even more,” explains Diarmuid. “It was the perfect storm for all businesses in terms of online sales — we made more sales than when our physical stores were open. But I think it showed what we can do and as soon as we focused purely online, using the right tools available to us, like Google Analytics, we really started to tweak what you would consider the smaller, more detailed bits of business operations, that can have a massive impact.”

So not only has this experience given Diarmuid and co. a new perspective on how they do business, it’s only made them more passionate about what they do, with their eyes now firmly fixed on expansion. “A huge part of our business growth in the coming years is to go international. A fundamental part of that will be using Google Tools to get visible in those markets. Without those tools I'm not sure how we'd do that.”

A huge part of our business growth in the coming years is to go international. A fundamental part of that will be using Google Tools to get visible in those markets. Without those tools I'm not sure how we'd do that.

Diarmuid McSweeney, Co-founder, Gym+Coffee

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