What’s Next? Your Retail Glass Company Will Look Different in Three Months

By Paul Bieber

Every business in the United States, and really the world, will be radically changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Either you will adapt new thoughts and ways of business, or you will disappear from the economic landscape. Let’s talk about how these changes will affect retail glass shops.

You will have more office people working from home. You will need one or two office people in the shop to greet and work with customers. The rest of your team … estimators, insurance billers and accounting … can work from home three or four days per week. Give your home workers a strong computer and the tools they need to do their job. Be flexible on the work hours of these folks. Many don’t have kids in school or summer camp now and need to stay home. Let them work the hours that best fit their new-life schedule.

It’s Not About Politics

There is great talk about the need to wear masks. Forget the politics. Manage the health of your team. Wearing masks at your place of work should be mandatory. This just may prevent someone on your team from getting sick or worse, dying. You don’t know who will walk in your door next. Protect your team with masks.

Masks generally are available at pharmacies or online. Get masks and place them in a bin at your front door with a sign asking all those that come in to please wear one. Keep your politics out of your business. Keep the health of your team in your business.

Some of your competitors will go out of business. That is just a plain fact. Be ready to take on new business and take on new employees who are experienced in our industry. Don’t hesitate here. During these times you will either shrink or grow. Few glass companies will stay the same size they were just a couple of months ago.

When you visit a jobsite wear your mask. You just don’t know who you will be meeting. Protect yourself, which protects your family at home.

Change your business model, as well. You should be installing health guards at every retail store and office in your area. Advertise this heavily right now. If you service a university or college, plan that they will not be totally open in the fall. Your local schools may not be open either. People are driving less; your auto glass business will be down. Have your auto people repair screens, maintain your trucks, or whatever you need. The auto glass industry is going to be harder hit than a full-service glass shop.

Plan for the Future

You can let people go on unemployment without guilt. Many folks will be getting their full salary if not more. This may let you hire people whose skills better fit your new business model.

Maintain a good relationship with the customers you have. Many large shops are looking for work with new construction at a standstill. With a mailing, an email or phone call, contact every customer and let them know you have the capabilities to accomplish all of their glass needs.

Take on new product lines as quickly as you can. Look at the magazines and websites to find products that fit your geography and mindset. Manufacturers are looking for new outlets for their products and will spend to help train your team.

Slow and steady doesn’t win the race now. Fast and nimble will be the watchwords for successful companies in the balance of this year. I wish you, your family and your work team the best of health in these times.

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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