COVID-19 Is Here … Have You Thought About What You Need to Do Now?

By Paul Bieber

We are all affected, either by personal quarantines, illnesses of friends and families or by the economic impact on our glass industry. Let’s look at where glass shops and fabricators will be financially two or three months down the road.

Money Matters

By the time you read this our country and the world may be in a recession. If so, your business income will decrease in the short-term, probably for three to six months. You will have to cut expenses and, unfortunately, that includes reducing staff. Such measures, which employers across the country will have to make, will contribute to the economic decline.

You have the obligation to ensure your business succeeds in the long run. Let’s look at your environment as we prepare to come out of the recession.

Interest rates, as set by the Federal Reserve are at zero. You will be able to borrow money from your bank at between 2 and 3% cost, if not lower. At that time, while the cost of money is “cheap,” you should look at buying equipment, growing your business footprint and exploring opportunities to purchase other organizations. Thinking of expanding your service area? Plan to do this in the fall.

Forward Thinking

As you plan ahead for the future, here are a few other things to keep in mind:

As you lay off personnel now, keep your best folks. If people have to leave you to take care of children off from school or to help with health care, continue to pay them. The government has set up programs to help businesses in covering these costs. Show your loyalty to your best folks and they will reciprocate as the economy turns around.

Hiring qualified people has been one of the biggest hurdles in the last year. That will disappear. Hire as many people as you can afford when they become available.

Review your advertising. More people will be online shopping than ever. Upgrade your site to include all of your products and be sure to use real pictures of jobs in your area, not stock pictures. Customers may not want you to come to their homes or businesses, so make your website the best you can and that will pay dividends to you.

Look at purchasing equipment. Manufacturers are and will be offering rock-bottom pricing and will, more than likely, arrange the financing for you. That edger you wanted, which will have a three- or four-month lead time, should be on your shopping list. Trucks will also be cheap and there won’t be any interest.

While business is slow, plan to upgrade your safety training. Get your vendors to come in and teach classes. They should be glad to build their relationships with you. Also look to your vendors to teach classes on specific products. If your vendors don’t want to help train your workforce, start looking for new vendors. Just about every supplier will be in the same shape you are: looking for new business.

Use your people to redo your own showroom. Make it a showcase for your area. Keep your people working on projects that will affect your own company and you win twice: you keep your employees productive and you improve your company.

Don’t crawl under a rock and wait for the recession to be over. There has never been a recession that didn’t end. I know it’s tough out there now. Plan for the fall and plan to build your business.

Paul Bieber has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at paulbaseball@msn.com. Read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com

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