For Maria Thackwell, owner of Rangiora-based Maria Thackwell Mortgages, the lockdown period provided an opportunity to reaffirm the human-centric values such as empathy and relatability which are at the core of her business operation.
“At times like this you really need to show your values as a business owner, while also remembering that it is important to show your human side too,” she says.
“Being in such a high-pressure industry as finance you need to understand the huge problems people are facing due to financial issues. People can react differently to how they normally would, but you know that it’s just due to the complex situation and you don’t take it personally.”
Logistically, it was a smooth transition for Maria and her team to work from their home offices under lockdown and she was pleased that they already had the tools and infrastructure in place to work remotely.
“We used social media and other avenues to let our clients know that we were still available and accessible to them via Zoom and other online platforms.”
An important learning for Maria during lockdown is that for her, video meetings are no substitute for face-to-face contact with clients, especially at the beginning of a professional relationship.
“It’s wonderful to have this type of technology, but for me personally I found it was much harder to pick up on all the little signals including emotions and body language cues that you get when you have a face-to-face meeting.
“It was a really good for me to know that I won’t change my business model.”
Maria says another key point which was reinforced throughout lockdown was the importance of balancing clients’ needs with the wellbeing of staff.
“When you are dealing with very personal, emotional issues like finance, mortgages and lending you need to be very empathetic and provide the best advice to clients. However, you also need to make sure you also take time out for yourself so you can provide the best level of service.”
Daily walks with her granddaughter provided Maria with some time out and a fresh perspective. “She’s my bubble of joy and spending time with her made everything better.”
Maria’s advice to businesses operating in a post-Covid world is to keep believing in the vision of their business and focus on their values, while also seeking expert advice.
“Believe in yourself and your business and stay true to your values. If you are following your values, then you have the tools to guide you through both the good times and the difficult periods.
“You also need to get the right advice and seek help from experts outside your industry to give you new perspectives.”
Maria can be contacted at: [email protected]