Spotlight on SMEs – Dowsing & Reynolds

2 April 2020


We heard many great stories about how big brands have reacted to coronavirus crisis and adjusted their strategies and communications. We however wanted to also shine a light on smaller businesses, some of them our clients, and inspire you by asking them to share what is that they are doing to not only survive but also thrive in these times.

First, we have interviewed our wonderful client Dowsing & Reynolds and specifically one of their co-founders Ally Dowsing-Reynolds.

Dowsing & Reynolds are a truly beautiful and unique homeware retailer. A team of 3 founders supported by their incredible team members with so much creative and innovative energy and passion are bound to help anyone create a one of a kind interiors. Anything from lighting, switches and sockets, paint, through handles, showers and taps to faux foliage; all designed uniquely by them and very different than the usual items out there. We especially love their animal lamps: monkeys and hare are the best.

So we asked them a few questions about how are they managing these challenging times. This is what Ally said:

1. What actions (and when) have you decided to take in reaction to the coronavirus crisis? For example, have you changed your communication or delivery policies? 

We immediately closed our physical store in Leeds. We then sent all those home who can do their jobs remotely. The next step we took was to condense the team who had to be at work (to pick and pack orders, process returns and assemble items) down to a skeleton team – just enough to handle the work.

This has meant that we could keep our business going, whilst still having a safe environment for our team to work in.

Our team reacted very quickly and we have been so impressed by their speedy implementation of the government guidelines, including those on distancing and hygiene.

In terms of communication, we have been open and honest with both our team (weekly updates with what decisions we are taking and why) and our customers (inc. statements about how we are keeping our team safe) on our website.

2. What impact does it seem to have on your business till now? 

It has impacted everything – literally every area of our business. From the amount of sales we are taking, to how we are operating our warehouse, to increasing our marketing budgets and thinking fast to try to meet a changing consumer’s needs.

We’ve had to react very quickly to protect our staff. Not just physical health, but mental health at this time is challenging too. We know everyone feels stressed and anxious in this uncertain world and we’re trying to do what we can to look after our team.

We’ve encouraged teams to keep in touch via Zoom and Slack as much as possible, so it’s been nice to see how well they’ve continued to communicate and collaborate. 

3. How are you trying to take advantage of this time in self-isolation? 

I’m working just as hard, if not harder, than ever right now. But I’m looking for the positives that will come out of this – an entrepreneurial spirit from a focused team, working hard to adjust our offering for our customers.

Enjoying time with my husband and daughter is always a big one for me. We thought we might get fit during our time at home…but the reality is I’ve got a decent chocolate addiction going on right now, so I think I’m going to have to work on that one a bit harder!

4. What brands are inspiring you in how they are reacting to this crisis? 

Trouva are another fab homeware retailer and I’ve really liked their tone and approach to their marketing communications – especially their emails. They haven’t been gushy, it’s more subtle than others…but they are just quietly cracking on with making changes to their website quickly and keeping their customers informed.

Fast food chain LEON is one of the restaurants leading the campaign to ‘feed the NHS’ and I admire how they’ve welcomed competing names to join the pledge It’s a classic example of ‘PR for good’ during a crisis and something we can all get on board with. They’re also remaining transparent with their customers by sharing the inner workings of their business on Twitter and I think any brand that offers that level of transparency right now is admirable.

5. What are you working on at the moment to prepare your business for the changed consumer behaviour following self-isolation?

We think that customers will continue to be fairly focused on their homes, even after we come out of self-isolation. Launching a virtual design consultation service is something that we are currently testing with a view to rolling out very soon. Sessions with our trained interiors specialists which look at a room in your home and give you one to one advice on colours and how to make it feel exactly how you want it to. The great thing about it being in the home is that you can walk around and show us live, which makes that conversation really productive. Keep an eye on for that launching.

6. Any other comments, predictions, inspirations?

We’ve already seen a shift in what our customers are interested in, with paint sales increasing quite dramatically. We’ve been making a lot of website optimisations behind-the-scenes to really focus on this and make sure we’re giving our customers what they want. Many people will be looking to make renovations that they can easily do themselves, without the help of a tradesperson, so this has informed many of these optimisations.


Image source: Ally Dowsing-Reynolds