Dealer Insights: Business Impacts & Solutions During COVID-19
We understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on businesses and communities around the country. Although these are uncertain times, we have seen our dealers respond to this current crisis with patience and with added creativity. Below we share tips from one of our dealers on how their business is navigating through these difficult times. Each business is uniquely different, but we are all in this together.
Ike Padgett, VP of Purchasing for Tindell’s, a long-time dealer of Linear® with offices throughout Tennessee, shares his insights and some useful information on how they’re managing business during COVID-19, the changes they have seen, what they expect the future to look like, and some advice for fellow businesses.
- How has your business been affected during COVID-19? From a volume standpoint, we have not seen any reduction so far. We are very close to 2019 levels in sales. With that being said, we are expecting a reduction at some point as a result of the economy. Supply chains have been disrupted at times and that has created some price appreciation in some product groups. It does pose a significant threat for us to be able to provide specific products to our builders.Shortages due to curtailments/plant shutdowns make it impossible for us to service our customers because supplies are so tight that substitute vendors are not willing to starve their current customers for products to sell to a new customer (us). Basically, I just lose sales in those situations.
- What has been one of the biggest day-to-day impacts on your business?
The most prominent impact on our business has been in interaction with other people. This is a very relationship-based industry and we have significantly diminished personal contact with vendors, delivery drivers, customers, co-workers, etc. We have closed all corporate offices and sales showrooms until May 4th. In addition, outside sales have been working from home for the month of April.
- How will COVID-19 change how you do business in the future? Many of our customers will not take the risk of building a spec home until the economy shows it has recovered. Hopefully, the labor shortage in the building industry might see signs of relief with the high unemployment rate and construction being an essential business. I think business travel will continue to be limited for the remainder of the year. However, I think builders will continue to build as long as they have contracts on houses. Our area [Tennessee] has had a relatively low infection rate compared to other areas. I think that has been a contributor to the level of business we are seeing.
- What advice would you give other businesses in this industry? Although we don’t know what the future will hold, my number-one priority is to keep our employees and customers safe. My advice to other businesses would be to keep inventory and headcount lean. You might be busy now, but there is a significant chance of a slowdown. If we have another increased round of COVID-19 cases and construction get shut down, it wouldn’t be ideal to have a lot of inventory on the ground for which to pay. My recommendation is to suspend hiring but DO NOT lay anyone off. I would say to take advantage of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) to keep all of your people on staff. You will need them on the other side of this. If you have any Cap-Ex budgeted for this year, it might be better to put it off until next year. These are unprecedented times and circumstances and cash is king.
Share Your Experience
If your company has seen the impacts of COVID-19 and has creative solutions in place that you would like to share, please reply in the comment section below! In addition, see more ways to reach your customers here.