For Debbie and Paul Roberts it was cold comfort when NZ Inc was locked down that their property investor coaching business was already an old hand at operating online.
Or that Kiwis' love affair with property meant their sector might not be derailed as badly as some others.
With property investors and their tenants losing jobs and businesses, cashflow faltered up and down the chain and the Roberts' were as uncertain about the future as anyone.
As it turned out, with time on their hands, people have flocked to Property Apprentice's free online presentations, from which the company draws its contracted clients, and the Auckland-based family business is "flat out", says Debbie Roberts.
Also keeping them busy are calls from existing clients around the country and overseas wanting a read on the market, and first home buyers who they also mentor.
Roberts reckons client numbers have lifted about 10 per cent.
"People saw two hours of training for free as a good opportunity to increase their knowledge. They thought 'what the heck, there's nothing to lose' and then they've made the decision to join coaching programmes.
"In the early stage of lockdown we were gobsmacked when more than 300 people registered for one event. A lot of it has been unpaid work. But it's felt good to be able to help."
The property market has remained buoyant and Roberts believes with thousands of New Zealanders returning home and a "massive" national housing shortage that's not going to change anytime soon.
She dismisses the idea that property investors compete with first-home buyers - except investors "who don't know what they're doing and buy on emotion".
The number of investors is very small, she says, and home buyers aren't interested in blocks of flats. The competition for first-home buyers is from other first-home buyers, she says.
"What sets us apart from competitors is we don't sell property. We don't have a vested financial interest; what people get is impartial, unbiased help from us.
"We've been told we have the worst business plan in the world. But it works for us. We offer help and support to people who want help with extra training and someone on the end of a phone to answer questions - whether it's about buying an investment property or a home.
"We have a one-off fee, and offer payment plans, and they can get unlimited coaching for ever. The more experience a client has the less help they need so it's no skin off our nose not having an expiry date."
For the Roberts', the transition to lockdown and level restrictions was almost seamless.
"It was pretty easy to switch everything online. We have clients throughout New Zealand and overseas clients with investments here so we were all quite familiar with operating online.
"All staff work with laptops and cloud-based systems so relocating home was easy. Then it was a case of making sure clients had all the information they needed to log into training sessions online.
"For the past few years even most of our Auckland-based clients have preferred to meet online - I would say 80 per cent."
Training events once held on the road or in their offices are for now, all online.
Property Apprentice has four fulltime coaches and three admin staff and employs contractors when needed. The Roberts took the wage subsidy and haven't had to lay anyone off.
"We are a close team - it would have been devastating."
For Debbie Roberts perhaps the biggest highlight and reward of the Covid-19 response has been seeing "how much Kiwis care about other Kiwis".
During lockdown the business saw among clients "the two opposite ends of the spectrum of the economy".
"Some were struggling, others were saying their business was doing really well. And there were those coming on board with us who weren't worried about losing their jobs. We realised that was indicative of New Zealand as a whole," says Roberts.
"So we sent out an email to clients ... saying if you're self employed or an employee or a business in need of help, we have clients who like helping others.
"We said to let us know and we'll promote you through our client base. The feedback was amazing."
The couple ran a free two-hour online session where clients were given five minutes to promote their businesses.
"We had the largest number of clients online we've ever had - it was just people wanting to help others."
Many clients went on to offer help to their own clients and contacts.
"It developed a life of its own. It made us realise how much Kiwis care about other Kiwis."
Most Property Apprentice clients are residential investors but it also provides advice to commercial landlords.
The company's advice to client landlords of all stripes is "if you can afford to help tenants, then help", says Roberts.
"Our moral compass has always been to say help if you can, and if you can't make sure they have access to all the government support they're entitled to.
"We've always told our clients they need to treat tenants with respect. (We say) property investment is a business and you treat your clients with respect."
As for the outlook for the sector, Roberts believes house price rises and rent increases are inevitable because of the property shortage.
• Have all business systems 100 per cent cloud-based for operating ease and security
• Advertise - however you can. People need to know you're still around
• Collaborate, help others