Recently, I gave an interview to startup.info about innovation and how Manifest is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Startup Info is an entrepreneurs and innovation magazine devoted to shed light on the booming startup ecosystem worldwide. They have 100.000 monthly readers and 30.000 subscribers to our weekly newsletter.
“This too shall pass…”
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
We are all healthy and doing well. The truth is that I got the virus a few weeks ago and we went through a period of anxiety, but fortunately with very mild symptoms, so that no medication or hospitalization were needed. So apart from our isolation for 15 days, there was no other problem.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company
At the age of 23 I found myself working with a Greek Facility Management company which was offering no quality in its services in contrast to the multinational Facility Management companies which did provide high quality services but at very high prices. There, I found the “space” and created a Greek company by the standards of the multinational companies’ services but with low prices. This was the combination that brought us to the market-leading position we have been holding for several years.
How does your company innovate?
We innovate in three areas and they all have to do with the impeccable service of our clients.
- A) We have developed our own FM cloud software by which we deliver a complete picture of the services offered to our clients and we measure the quality of our services and the speed of our response to their requests.
- B) We have developed a know-how in all branches of Facility Management and we have managed to provide over 14 separate services by our own means and people, which ensures us a huge degree of control, as well as guarantees our immediate response.
- C) We have created a unique training system for our over 800 people so that they can continuously improve their skills at work, thus gaining many benefits for themselves and our clients.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Manifest’s main feature is the ability to perform changes at high speed. When the virus hit our country, we were already prepared to deal with it in all areas.
This speed of change helped us, despite the intense difficulties, to have a gross development in our turnover of about 5-6%, but also to almost double our profitability.
Nevertheless, seeing the difficulties that the virus has brought to our market, we are worried and we remain vigilant about the future that does not seem to be too auspicious.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Since we are a company with a purely human-centered character and due to the eventually successful year we were not required to reduce our staff or their benefits. On the contrary, we hired additional people and increased the salaries in some positions trying to counterbalance the negative climate that exists in the Greek market. We want our people to feel safe so that they can make the most of their potential. We hope that 2021 will also be a successful year, because the lesson we have learned from this global alert is to never stay complacent or remain inactive in unprecedented situations, but to take timely action so that we can always be one step ahead.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
From the first moment we were ready to serve the special needs that arose given the situation, as well as the new demands of our clients. We have quickly created new anti-virus services and, in fact, we were the first to certify them in Greece. I believe that one of the great benefits we will get from all this will be the strengthening of our relationship with our clients, since we were always there to help them and to modify their services according to their new needs, even if this often was very difficult to be achieved.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
The truth is that no help was currently needed. The Greek government is providing significant assistance to the businesses being affected and in need of assistance. Our sector does not belong to those, but I think it is vital that this assistance is continued, because many businesses cannot properly function during this period.
Your final thoughts
We are moving into uncharted waters and this alone is enough to create a veil of negativity. Most people are at their limits as they feel that their health is constantly threatened, as well as that basic principles of their freedoms have been violated due to the situation.
Here, unity and composure are needed.
This is where businesses need to embrace their employees and provide them with the security they need.
Now governments must listen to their citizens and to act based on the good of the people.
Only one thing is certain and that is that all this will pass, because in the history of human civilization we have overcome much worse problems.
And that shall pass too, but it takes composure, optimism and no complacent.
View the interview at startup.info, here: SOURCE