Pivoting To Survive Today So You Can Thrive Tomorrow: 4 Things You Can Learn from A High-Touch Business

Heather Branscombe is the founder of Abilities Neurological Rehabilitation. Over the past 12 years, Abilities has opened 4 clinics in BC, located in Abbotsford, Surrey, Chilliwack, and Coquitlam.

As the reality of the Coronavirus began impacting all businesses, Heather and her team were forced to either quickly pivot or risk losing their business. Armed with a “nothing to lose” attitude, Heather and her team at Abilities made the quick transition over three days to turn their in-person rehabilitation clinic into a 100% virtual care clinic.

Heather’s decision to go “all-in” on a brand new strategy was a matter of sink or swim, but it’s a shining example that now is the time to make these hard decisions. 

There is a lot we can learn a lot from Abilities’ pivot to going 100% virtual, and we boiled them down into four relevant takeaways:

  1. Now is the time to invest in digital and online technologies.
  2. Now is the time to take a risk on something new. 
  3. Now is the time to try something that may not work – failure is okay.
  4. Now is the time to leverage the patience of your patients (or customers)

#1 – Investing in digital and online technologies

The future (and much of the present) is digital. If you’ve been delaying digital software upgrades, tech transitions, and/or a stronger online presence, there’s no time like a global pandemic to force your hand. If you don’t, your competition will, and likely already is. 

#2 – Taking a risk on something new

Heather had never set up a virtual clinic, the technology already existed but a virtual care clinic was new and risky. Until it wasn’t. In a perfect world with business being conducted as usual, this pivot would have potentially been seen as a risk, and unnecessary to a growing and successful business. But the world is no longer “business as usual” and being risk-averse is not going to benefit you right now.

#3 – Failure is okay

The natural inclination is to avoid failure, so trying something in our business that’s likely to fail is not an easy or desirable task. But given the circumstances, failure is okay—as long as we’re learning from it, and not putting all of our chips in one basket. If you’re uncomfortable with failure, try something small that might fail; learn from it, improve the process for the next time.

#4 – Leverage the patience of your patients (or customers)

Transitioning from a high-touch to high-tech practice with 100% virtual care is sure to alter the customer experience and challenge everyone’s patience. However, given the unprecedented circumstances, Heather’s patients and your customers are going to afford you more grace and forgiveness for an altered experience than ever before. Don’t take advantage of your customers’ grace and patience, but understand it’s okay to work out the kinks while serving your customers. Maintain a high level of communication with your customers, keeping them up-to-date on your situation will help sustain their patience. 


All of our businesses are changing, adapting, and evolving right now — experimentation will likely never have a bigger payoff it than it will right now. Heather and her team saw the immediate need to quickly adapt to simply survive today so they can be set up to thrive tomorrow.

For more interviews with entrepreneurs and business owners that are learning, adapting, and even thriving during COVID-19, check out Entrepreneurs Vs Coronavirus, a new podcast sponsored by Clearbridge. 

Click below to listen to Heather’s whole story and interview on the podcast with Clearbridge founder & CEO, Ryan Kononoff. 

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