Covid-Trends

In the GGP magazine regular column Jayne Sullivan, Operations Director of DOORCO, usually looks at the trends in the door market. This month she’s taking a wider view.

Covid-Trends

It seems odd to report on the trends of doors whilst the market has been shut down, so this month we’re offering insight into something different: the trends that have observed in business behaviours during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 Our lockdown story

For DOORCO, we shut down manufacturing in-sync with the rest of the sector on 25th March, which inevitably meant furloughing the majority of our workforce outside the Senior Management Team.  Dan & I set up shop at home and quickly settled into making a plan of action to get through this unprecedented situation – words perhaps heard too often but still very real.  For us, the impact of COVID-19 has interestingly led to a much more complex set of dynamics and situations, none of which could be approached in any one way and has really put the spotlight how the ‘whole sum is greater than its individual parts’.  We’re grateful to have been in the same room (as opposed to many business partners being locked down on opposite sides of the country and communicating via webcams) and assume our roles (me focused on the finances and HR, Dan dealing with the supply chain and customers), mainly due to the fact that we have mutual trust and understanding of each other, as both husband and wife and business partners.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been some fireworks and very tense moments in that shared office, but overall, it has worked because we have the same end goal – survival.

We’re also thankful that we decided to keep a larger than average team in place from the outset (10% of staff) while other companies cut it right to the bone.  They were all amazing despite each and every one having personal challenges to face. They’ve been flexible, positive and supportive throughout which led to us being part of the first wave to open back up.

Movers and shakers

What has been fascinating to watch and will continue to be interesting, is how the pandemic has exposed the true character of many organisations in our industry. There are leaders, demonstrating strong direction and moving strategically and nimbly through this ordeal.  We’ve spoken to many our customers and suppliers regularly (some almost daily!) as we work together to navigate our way through the crisis.

Then there are the followers: waiting to see what everyone else is doing, hesitant and following the majority.

Social media, LinkedIn particularly, has been a real point of information. The media has reacted well too, adapting to sharing instant news from across the industry. Some organisations have maintained a positive presence throughout and the sense of ‘togetherness’ that exists in this sector has been extant.

Then there have been the negative comments, shooting someone down for ‘trying’ or even worse, those that have gone dark.

The true ethos of many businesses has been exposed – good and bad.

Where next?

For DOORCO, we re-opened on 4th May with additional unfurloughed staff joining the trenches. We have strict Safe Working Practices in place, and we are monitoring the business every day, ensuring we have the correct level of staff against the orders being received and making measured decisions as we go.

The longer-term effect is hard to judge. With reports of a recession like we’ve never seen before and rumours about companies being in dire straits financially, giants like Everest, who at the time of writing is on the brink of collapse, and Insight Data’s latest report saying that 12% of the fabricators and installers they analysed the credit rating on posed a high or very high credit risk.  No one is unaffected and it is a worrying time for all.

Will homeowners invest in their properties, or are they too worried to spend? Will they spend more as they redivert holiday funds to home improvement?  Some say that September will be the real pinch point, and it you can make it through to the Autumn, you stand a good chance of being ok.

Survival of the fittest

Even though most of us are operating, we certainly aren’t out of the woods yet.  Whatever the short to mid-term looks like, one thing is sure: businesses with strong leadership, the ability to flex and adapt and grab opportunity are the ones that will survive.  Never has a true entrepreneurial spirit been more important.