As we head towards the close of another year, we took the opportunity to reflect on 2020. Full of twists and turns, ups and downs, the year we experienced was unlike any other. Without dwelling on any of the darkness, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the positives of 2020 which made us realise how much we managed to achieve.
Back in January, we were thrilled to welcome Nicola back after her third maternity leave. With Nicola’s lovely smile back in the office, everything around us was filled with positivity. She brought good luck with her too, as within 4 weeks we had welcomed five fabulous new Light Locations.
Through February and early March, the signs of what was on the horizon began to increasingly dominate the news. Planning ahead became impossible as uncertainty took hold. At the end of March, our industry ground to a halt. We dispersed to our own homes and began to digest the new reality. Each of the team sought joy in everyday simplicity. From spending time with young families to reconnecting with nature. Each of us enjoyed the unusually warm spring.
As we acclimatised to the change in daily routines, our lovely Light Locations family kept in touch from a distance. With shoots on hold and some of the team furloughed, we used the downtime wisely, each of us in different ways.
With the team on furlough, Sophie took the opportunity to look to the future, working on projects that would ensure Light Locations came out from lockdown stronger. Areas of focus became the website, the further development of our paperwork app and the introduction of property owner insurance.
During the industry shutdown, the wheels were put in motion to move to a more versatile, faster and updated website platform. Without lockdown, we would never have had the time needed for the amount of work such a change requires. Katie came out of furlough to help, doing an incredible job checking through every page on the site before going live 😩. Without Kerry from Unstuck (our website company), this project would not have been possible. With this amazing dream team, we managed to get the site live by the start of June when work started to return!
Looking at the website gave us a chance to work on the content of our site, in particular the blog. With the help of Suzi at Suzi Writes Copy, we posted consistently throughout lockdown. Lots of people told us they loved reading our updates and inspiration throughout lockdown. This was humbling to hear and made it all worth doing. It will definitely be a habit we continue into 2021.
Sophie is incredibly proud of the paperwork app which she developed over the last few years with our wonderful website guys Unstuck Design. It totally revolutionised how the office works and from both clients, location owners’ and the team’s perspectives, it has made the process of booking a location seamless and uncomplicated.
The app was created to provide a platform where all our paperwork could be stored in one place allowing the team easy access to all they need on a daily basis. With us all not physically being with each other this system became invaluable throughout lockdown as it allowed all team members access to all the paperwork from their homes. Everything for each shoot, including invoices, remittances, COVID documents and notes were to hand at the touch of a button.
With lockdown and all the team working remotely gave Sophie the time and the necessity to develop the app further. The developments made this year have again made it even easier for all girls to work remotely. It means the team can continue to work efficiently from anywhere. Without it, working from home would have been a very different prospect.
Going forward we have more developments in the pipeline for the app. We are finalising a resource section for owners to be able to log in to view all their day sheets and access any important information they might need. The app has also encouraged a decision for us to become a paperless company. Watch this space for these developments to roll out through 2021.
Another project that gained momentum over lockdown was offering bespoke insurance to location owners. Covering owners for issues on a shoot has always been an extremely grey area and one that the team are regularly quizzed about. It is most often asked when we take on new locations. Towards the end of 2019, Sophie met the Superhog team at the Good Web Guide Awards. Known for providing tailored insurance to the Airbnb industry, Sophie worked with them over lockdown to develop insurance cover for shoots in people’s homes. Since its launch in July as we crept out from lockdown, the uptake has been good. Owners utilising it are very happy to have the peace of mind it provides and at a very affordable price.
Whilst working on the website, the paperwork app and Superhog, Sophie never took her eyes off the anticipated return of photoshoots. It soon became clear that guidelines would be needed once lockdown ended.
“I knew I had to create guidelines to ensure shoots could start back safely. Working with solicitors and our design team we created detailed procedures for crews to adhere to. Whilst incredibly time-consuming, it was such a worthwhile exercise as it provided the encouragement all parties needed to return to work”
As the industry tentatively opened at the start of the summer, the guidelines were put into practice. Whilst they have tripled the amount of work involved for each job, it was absolutely worth it to allow everyone to return to a level of normality. It also meant that when lockdown 2.0 arrived in November there was less disruption and shoots were able to continue. Sophie believes these guidelines will still be in place at the start of 2021 and who knows they may possibly even become business as usual?!
From June onwards, bookings increased, we welcomed more fantastic locations to our portfolio and the team returned to work, albeit from our own homes. The lockdown in November caused minimal disruption, largely down to the efficiency of our new tools and processes.
As we finish and reflect upon the year, we feel more positive than we could ever have foreseen back in March. Whilst it has not been the year anyone expected, it has been a year when positivity rose from the darkness. Our processes and procedures have been overhauled, we have a fantastic new website, and the team is working together again. It’s not a year we could have planned for, but it has brought the Light Locations team, its clients and its location owners even closer.