Bill Feinberg, president of Allied Kitchen & Bath, discusses the impact of coronavirus on his businesses in the sixth of this series from Lifestyle Media Group
Lifestyle reached out to businesspeople all over South Florida—in categories ranging from retail and real estate to medical and automotive—and asked three questions: How did COVID-19 and the shutdown impact your business; how did you position your business in the interim; how will experiencing this unprecedented pandemic change the way you conduct business moving forward?
Business backstory: For the past 35 years, the Fort Lauderdale-based business (and showroom) has provided kitchen, bath and home remodeling services to its clients. Its team of experienced designers has access to top-of-the-line appliances, decorative hardware/plumbing, and tile/stone.
The impact: “Going through the recession during 2008 and 2009 was something that I never thought I’d have to go through again; we spent several years digging out of that mess and rebuilding and eventually becoming one of the premier remodeling companies in South Florida. Now, we find our [business] in new territory, trying to figure out the next move in order to make sure that we can survive. In [late March], we laid off about half of our 35 [in-house employees], reducing staff in the offices and showroom, while still keeping the other 30-plus people in the field working on current job sites. Most of the projects that we’re working on, or that we chose to stay working on, are in homes that are empty and unoccupied. We made our decisions for two reasons: First, to hold on to our savings and reserves that we put away, knowing that without showroom traffic, our retail sales [and new projects] would come to a halt. Second, we felt it necessary to follow [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, and allow our people to socially distance themselves from the rest of the community, in an effort to safeguard our employees.”
In the interim: “We know that people are cocooning in their homes—and spending more time than they have in years looking at their old kitchens and bathrooms. For many, now could be the perfect time to start planning; they have time on their hands. So, we have set up processes to meet with clients virtually—through FaceTime and Zoom—and see exactly what’s in their home and talk to them about their plans. We’re also working on a virtual tour of our showroom. We’ve already begun interacting and designing with some clients, which will set us up for success the moment we can all get back to work.”
The future: “I think it’s going to take quite some time for people to get comfortable interacting with one another, in the way we were used to before COVID-19. I see us doing more virtual meetings and making more presentations over the internet.”