Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Janice Bergeron, owner of RND Consultants, Inc., shared with us how she grew her business to more than a million dollars in revenue in one year.
When we asked Janice about owning a business through the pandemic, she said “What we learned from COVID will make us stronger, wiser and definitely tougher!”
Companies across the Commonwealth faced many challenges throughout 2020 and into 2021. Who better to ask about navigating those challenges than a fellow business owner? Here is what Janice had to say about running her business during the last year:
When we last spoke, your business was still fairly young and you had a million dollars in revenue in your first year. How as your business fared since then?
Janice: Our revenue has stayed consistent over the last two years. If it weren’t for COVID, we would have shown a 20 to 30 percent increase in revenue.
What impact did COVID-19 have on your business?
Janice: COVID has impacted our business in many ways, from clients and projects to how we conducted our overall business practices. Luckily, we were attuned to having a balanced client portfolio should volatility occur in a market sector during a particular year, i.e., public clients, private clients, and “other” categories. Our private and “other” clients made up for our loss of public client projects. For instance, we had 10+ MBTA projects that were either placed on hold or cancelled. Therefore, we had to back-fill those projects which required us to pivot very quickly. We were already in the process of pivoting in early 2020 but we accelerated it due to the shifts in demand spurred on by the pandemic. We saw many opportunities working for municipalities - management consulting and development in MA and SC. RND opened a new office in Charleston, SC to secure new business which is now starting to pay off.
How did you navigate business amid the pandemic?
Janice: It was very stressful for sure but RND is a small and nimble firm. No one planned for this and the number one thing for me was to keep my RND team intact. We have a great team with varying skill sets which is hard to find. Getting out of our comfort zone and being strategic by matching our strengths against client weaknesses or needs was how we survived. We had a very, very targeted marketing plan to attract new clients and we have gained a lot of traction over the last two months. The hardest part was communicating with our internal team members and keeping calm and steady amongst the turmoil. RND is known for project management and consulting. So we had to do just that — prepare and focus on achievable action plans to drive our markets/projects forward.
Did you have to adjust your cash flow strategy during the past year?
Janice: Yes, we had to scale back dramatically on overhead expenses, marketing, associations involvement, and educational classes. We also had to lay-off two people and cut back on employee hours for 2 months.
Are there long-lasting effects from this time on your business?
Janice: The jury is still out on that. One of our market sectors is transportation. If the MBTA doesn’t receive federal stimulus funds, we will have to adjust our expectations for the next few years until the market corrects itself. One of RND’s key strengths is where transportation and development intersect, known in the industry as Transit Oriented Development (TOD) projects. We will continue to focus on development and transportation in Gateway Cities so when the MBTA gets back on track, the Gateway Cities will be ready for economic development opportunities.
You mentioned that your daughter Renee was planning to follow in your footsteps - is that still the case? How has this impacted her thoughts on continuing the family business?
Janice: Renee is now a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) with a focus in construction management for development projects. Without any pressure from her mom, she is steadfast on working at RND with a focus on Transit Oriented Development Projects (TOD)!! She definitely enjoys the housing side of the business.
What advice would you give fellow business owners about dealing with adversity?
Janice: Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Women especially hate to do this for some reason. Tap into others for advice and guidance – whether it is your bank, chamber, associations, LinkedIn members, etc. But be specific on the ask. I need assistance with XYZ, or do you have a contact at X company that I could call for XYZ. People love to help if asked!
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