As the winter shutdown of non-essential businesses lingers, one Esquimalt company is waiting to bounce back.
The Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park has sold $10,000 in gift certificates during the lockdown. When cases are under control and the business can open again, owner Alex Campbell expects the pandemic-restricted bookings to fill up fast.
“We believe at the moment that we’ll survive but it’s tough,” said Campbell, who is in the fourth year of operation. “We’ll make it through but we’re losing substantial amounts of money every month and [there’s] no way to get around that.”
Campbell was driven to sell the gift certificates through a fresh online marketing campaign he created after completing the province’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp.
The province invested $2 million to fund up to 2,500 seats in the bootcamp, an eight-week program with a value of $6,000 per seat.
Campbell enrolled in April when the first shutdown forced him to lock the doors and lay off his staff.
Then came Phase 2, when Campbell was able to reopen the Flying Squirrel under strict protocols. It was good news, except that Campbell wasn’t done the online digital course that was demanding upwards of 35 hours a week.
“When we reopened it was full-time school and I was working 75 to 80 hours a week,” Campbell said.
It was worth it.
“I had a fairly strong understanding of digital marketing but not a firm grasp on the tools and fundamentals of marketing, so it helped me considerably to make better decisions,” he said.
It also helped with training, as Campbell generally has employees help with marketing.
“For someone with little to no experience in marketing this would be an amazing crash course. You would exit with a solid skill-set and knowledge comparable to a junior copywriter or marketer,” Campbell said.
In the meantime, Campbell is twitching to get his business buzzing again. He ran an online fundraiser that supported the Mustard Seed Food Bank that doubled as a community giveaway. It was a partnership with the Victoria Fjallraven store which also provided 10 backpacks.
“We gave out $2,000 worth of value in gift cards to the trampoline park with the 10 backpacks, and the idea was if you donated, you increased your chances to win,” Campbell said.
It raised $1,000 for Mustard Seed.
But he’s also watched as the staff he took years to assemble have moved on in their careers.
“The most gut-wrenching thing is we started four years ago and I’ve twice had to lay off an exemplary team that took a long time to build,” he said.
Assembling a new staff promises to be a daunting task, but with $10,000 in pre-sold business he will be able to restart when the province relaxes the current Phase 3 lockdown.
Since November 2020, over 900 people have enrolled in the Digital Marketing Bootcamp which is free for B.C.-based businesses with up to 149 employees, and sole proprietors. The daily online course covers up-to-date digital marketing tools, such as search engine optimization and analytics. Enrolment is open until the end of March.