By Scott Perron
(First of two parts)
On March 13 of this year I was enjoying one of my favorite yearly events, hosting a lifelong friend from the flooring industry at my golf club’s yearly invitational tournament. Although the obvious signs of common sense might have been abundant from what we were witnessing over the previous weeks, we played on without really acknowledging COVID-19’s existence or the impact it would soon have on the world.
As inventory suppliers we had prepared by purchasing additional materials if the supply chain was disrupted from overseas, only to realize that we were not immune to what was about to transpire. In addition, we neglected to understand that our preparation for future demand might soon be destroyed by the consumers’ inability to live their normal lives. A true calamity of errors.
My 30-year journey has been filled with many opportunities as well as setbacks. As owners we have needed to navigate tough economies, lack of capital, personal loss and fear of the unknown. As an employee, I once needed to make the decision to resign from my favorite career role due to a change in leadership that ultimately diminished the company, causing us to hit the reset button once again. Fast forward several years to the present and celebrating the success of building two new entities, enter COVID-19 and the need to create a whole new normal.
Let me clarify for those of you who are located in different parts of the country that I do not pretend to know the challenges you have faced during this setback. Here in Florida and based on our current set-up, we were deemed essential as we supply materials to the trade—which, regardless of the virus, must press on in the world of real estate, restoration and remodeling as our product is necessary before they are allowed to occupy.
When a challenge presents itself you only have two options: first, bury your head in the sand and hope it will pass you by; or second, adapt and overcome. Over the weeks that followed we had many team meetings about safety, processes and the steps we would attempt to take to protect our staff while servicing our customers in a safe and cautious manner. In addition, we spoke to many business owners inside and outside our industry trying to extrapolate what we might be able to use.
Soon it became evident that our belly-to-belly interactions would become virtual in nature. Zoom, Skype and Go- To Meetings would impact our daily lives, and we would be required to learn these new technologies in the pursuit of dealing with our prospects, networking associations, clients and vendors. It was cumbersome at first and at times unprofessional while we learned how to operate these tools. However, these plat- forms are now the rule rather than the exception.
Through this crisis we discovered many simple changes that would make us more efficient, more versatile and relevant to the changing environment as new customers begin emerging into the marketplace. Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who now range from 23-73 years of age make up the primary prospect landscape as the youngest enter their first homes and the oldest their retirement dwellings. COVID-19 has required all these groups to quickly change in unison once again, shrinking the world and increasing our efficiency to communicate with them.
These changes create many opportunities as well possible setbacks that I will explore in Part II.
Scott Perron is the president of 24-7 Floors and Floor4Pros based in Sarasota, Fla. He is also an industry trainer and motivational speaker. He can be reached at 941.666.8640, extension 107, or via email at Scott@Floors4Pros.com.