Because the education part of Flywire’s business is seasonal, there was a lot of uncertainty and many potential scenarios to consider when the pandemic started to unfold. CEO Mike Massaro talks about how his team worked to ensure the safety and productivity of its employees and customers, while making careful business decisions to manage costs.
Like most businesses, when the pandemic started to unfold in early 2020 and the global economy pretty much shut down, Flywire’s immediate reaction was to pull back and assess the potential damage and risk to our team and our business. We had some early insight into what was coming because of our business operations across Asia and our employees (FlyMates) in China.
We spent March and early April focused on the following:
- Making sure our employees were okay and getting them equipped to work remotely;
- Checking in with our customers to assure them of the continuity of our global payment network and services and to see where they needed help; and
- Conducting business scenario planning to understand the potential impact of the pandemic on our business, and making decisions to manage our costs carefully.
Because part of our business (education payments) is seasonal, there were a lot of potential scenarios to consider, and a lot of uncertainty about the future of higher education around the world.
As a leadership team, we were in an uncertain time with imperfect information. There was no most likely scenario or clear path of action for us to take. Once we made clear decisions on our costs, we decided to put our business back on the offensive. We were determined not to be paralyzed by the uncertainty we saw ahead. We didn’t want to spend our time or our team’s time looking for all the potential challenges the pandemic might present for our team and our business. Instead, we wanted to focus on what progress we could make with a focus on our team and our clients. In practice, that meant:
- Identifying different ways to measure progress. Revenue growth was not the metric that we felt was appropriate. Ultimately, it was as much in our control as it was previously, due to bigger factors in play within our industries. However, there were metrics we could control or impact, such as accelerating ramp-up time for customer implementations so they could digitize their finance functions more quickly, and reducing the number of interactions required by our global customer service team to resolve payer questions.
- Adding more functionality to our product suite to address more customer needs and increase the share of payments processed through our global
- Investing in verticals less impacted by the pandemic, such as healthcare and tech. In recent months, Flywire launched new capabilities that made it easier for healthcare providers to estimate patient costs before care and create affordable payment plans customized to the patient’s We also expanded our reach into a vertical — helping middle-size tech companies manage the billing and payment process with their international customers.
- Redesigning work processes to help our FlyMates collaborate more effectively in areas like sales, customer support, implementation and product development. These processes also helped maintain a strong sense of teamwork — an important aspect of our on-site culture, as many of our employees typically travel regularly to our different offices around the globe.
These decisions helped keep our FlyMates focused on what we all could impact rather than getting distracted by the challenges.
While all of these investments enabled Flywire to address some of the short-term obstacles created by the pandemic, more importantly, we believe they will also make Flywire a stronger business and a better-aligned organization in the long run.