Thursday, March 26, 2020
FBMA is striving to keep our members up to date on the COVID-19. Below is a list of links for you to utilize during this time period. Call the office at (352) 383-0366 for further assistance.
- Contact Your Legislator & Encourage Them to Deem LBM as "Essential Business"
- Understanding the Families
First Coronavirus Act
- Department of Homeland Security Guidance on Essential Business
Note: Page 6, under Food & Agriculture, 2nd to last bullet, denotes that "workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products" are deemed "essential" by the Department of Homeland Security & the Federal Government.
Begin preparing for what business will look like once this is all over. Below are some tips to help you implement proper cleaning protocols, ways to ensure your business is still operational and more:
Employee Health & Wellness
- Communicate clearly, effectively and frequently with employees. There are going to be many people who have a significant emotional response to this crisis - if they haven't expressed it already. Communication helps keep them centered. And as we all know, in a vacuum, people default to the negative. While you do need to communicate quickly, it’s equally important to be sure your facts are correct. Be clear about who your spokesperson is and control the message.
- Stop as much contact as you possibly can with other people. Sales reps should be working exclusively by phone. Close your showroom to customers. Encourage retail customers to email, text or phone-in orders. Set up a drive-through for people to pick up their merchandise without leaving their cars. Deliver as much as you can however require your drivers to stay away from others and spend as little time as possible on the jobsite.
- Take credit cards online, over the phone or use a device that pairs with smart phones such as applePay. If you must use regular credit-card readers, seek permission to approve without signature. If signature is required, disinfect the card reader and all adjacent surfaces immediately.
- Implement New Cleaning Protocols & Be Aggressive With Your Cleaning. Surfaces that get touched like doorknobs, counters, computers, phones, credit card machines (assuming you have customers who must swipe), bathrooms, etc., should be wiped down with antiseptic at least hourly. Yes, hourly. Make wipes available for frequent use. If someone picks up a writing utensil, it’s theirs to keep. One key form of transmission is touching a contaminated surface and then touching eyes, nose or mouth.
- If you or an employee are feeling sick/are sick, require them to stay home.They must be symptom free for at least 24-hours before returning to work and must be symptom free without the aide of medication.
- Send at-risk employees home. Anyone over 60, or with an underlying health issue, should be self-quarantined. This is going to be difficult and will require difficult decisions on the part of the business, particularly for at-risk employees whose work can’t be done from home.
- You should assume that business is going to grind to a halt. While we are seeing hardware designated as an essential business in places that have shelter-in-place decrees (and therefore may stay open), there is absolutely going to be a decline in sales. How large remains to be seen. Some dealers are already reporting delayed jobs and market pull back due to the uncertainty of consumer spending & financing moving forward. Likewise, the potential for building inspections to be delayed is a possibility.
- Develop a plan now for the eventuality of key team members getting sick. Can someone else do that job? Cross-training, although always important, is essential for the sake of business continuity.
- Figure out what your policy on paid time off is going to be. There is no clear answer. You don’t want to bankrupt your business by paying people to stay home, but you also don’t want to incentivize people to come to work sick. Some companies are telling people that they will still be paid if they exhaust PTO due to COVID-19. The Families First Coronavirus Act which was signed into law last week will provide some relief to those impacted by layoffs, excessive time off and/or inability to come to work due to caring for family members. Click here to gain a better understanding of the Families First Coronavirus Act. Know it and understand how it applies to you and your employees.
- It’s time to play “what if” with your budget. Run the numbers to see what happens to your business if you are down 20% in sales. Then 30%. Even 50%. You will pretty quickly see where you need to make cuts to ensure viability. Based on the recent stock losses in public companies associated with our industry, the marketplace believes we are going to be off by about 40%. That’s an inexact way to predict the future, but it’s food for thought (or for choking on).
- Cash is always king, and that’s never been truer than today. You can’t convert receivables to cash. Hopefully you are in good shape. If not, take action right now to collect. Tighten credit immediately. Encourage credit card payment and suffer the fees the card company takes if it gets you paid. Getting 97% of what’s owed today is better than getting none of it tomorrow.
- You also can’t convert inventory to cash in a downturn. Material prices have dropped significantly recently. Now is not the time to spend your cash buying in bulk even if it’s on sale.
- Start conversations now with your bank to dust off your line of credit or to put one in place. Hopefully you don’t need it, but you’ll want to make sure the engine is hot when you put your foot on the gas.
It’s going to take all of us working together! Stay Safe!
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