My COVID-19 Analysis and Plan

By
Bob Hill
President, Floor Covering Associates and Founder of FCA Network

I've outlined below what FCA has done and is continuing to do in order to survive over the next two years. I think that the pandemic will last about 18 months until we are all vaccinated. The economic consequences are just now beginning to be felt and they could be even more of an existential threat.

Present State of the Pandemic

Our governments, mainly the states, recognized that the rate of contagious spread of this disease was so rapid that all hospitals and medical facilities would be overwhelmed and unable to handle all the sick people if they didn't take immediate steps to curtail the spread. There is no cure and no vaccine for COVID-19. Everybody on the planet is susceptible to this disease. Many people who contract it will simply die. Most will have a terrible reaction lasting from two to six weeks before they recover. A few may have only a mild reaction.

The World-Wide Solution is "Shelter-in-Place"

Therefore, 97% of America is now living under "Shelter-in-Place" orders to keep us safe. All non-essential businesses are closed, and most of us were asked to stay at home. This has the effect of reducing the spread or transmission so that eventually new cases would equal deaths plus recoveries and the hospitals wouldn't be over-run by all the sick. Eventually recoveries and deaths would exceed new cases checking "in" to the hospitals and they could then manage to treat everyone properly.

FCA's Strategy to avoid heavy financial losses in the face of Illinois and Indiana Retail Shut Down.

  1. We published our response on FCAINC.com and Facebook and continue to update it weekly. [LINK]
  2. Posted Notices on the doors of our stores which have been shut down. [LINK]
  3. Provided certification letters for our installers and delivery people. [LINK]
  4. Laid off non-essential workers immediately so they could be the first in line to collect unemployment.
  5. Continued to educate and keep informed all staff who are still working.
  6. Most of the staff are working from home using FCA software and internet.
  7. Implemented a health-screening form to establish basic symptom history for each employee not able to work from home. [LINK]
  8. GRANT from Government.  Applied for CARES PPP government money to pay 8 weeks of salaries and expenses.
  9. Negotiated with banks for no mortgage payments for 90 days. Or landlord for no rent.
  10. Negotiated additional 30 days dating on all inventory purchases. (See memo)
  11. Created "Click to Chat". That's been huge! www.fcainc.com & www.FCANetwork.com
  12. Installed an exclusive "Video Chat" portal so that consumers can follow us visually throughout the store using their cell phone or laptop. We can show product and create a virtual selling process by video, cell phone, email or text.
  13. Accelerated Shop-from-home sales calls and home visits to estimate -- essential
  14. Create Email blasts and Social Media campaigns letting clients know their opportunities at FCA and all the precautions we have in place.
  15. Builder Selection Customers and Independent Designers can meet us only by appointment for time in our exclusive private showroom.
  16. Provide a mask and gloves to clients entering the store who do not have them.
  17. Provide hand sanitizer at each workstation
  18. Now offering 18-month consumer financing
  19. In the event of exposure to COVID-19, each store has available sanitization services by a licensed provider.

As the number of new cases becomes smaller every day and as the disease is brought under control by "Shelter-in-Place"; the curve is being flattened. "Shelter-in-Place" will eventually be lifted.  

Then what will our New Normal be?

  1. How do we keep each other, our employees and our customers safe?
  2. Will we enter years of economic depression? If so, how do we survive?
New normal - Be obsessive about hygiene

We'll need to create an almost surgically sterile environment and continue stopping the spread of the virus by following these health and safety guidelines from the CDC:

  • No handshakes: Use a non-contact method for greetings.
  • Wash your hands: Employees should wash their hands when they arrive and every time they enter the premises, as well as frequently throughout the day.
  • Cough & sneeze into your elbow.
  • Do not touch your face.
  • Constantly and regularly disinfect surfaces, including doorknobs, handrails, the POS system, keyboards, cell phones, tables and desks.
  • Wear face masks.
  • Keep a 6-foot distance from each other.
Marketing Strategy:

Continue to promote our new standards on our websites, Facebook, email, direct mail, advertising. Shift more effort to using the internet.

Supply Chain Issues:

You can no longer take for granted that mills and distributors will always have your products in stock. It will be important to work more closely with FCA Network to get distribution and mill priority.

Continue to Carefully Qualify everyone, including customers

FCA showrooms are now offering private in-store appointments for builder selections.  Before every appointment, we require the following information:

  • Is anyone in your home sick or quarantined?
  • Have you or anyone in your home been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19 infection?
  • Have you traveled anywhere by plane in the past month?
  • Scheduling installations, we ask the same thing of the customers and let them know that we require all our installers to wear face masks, booties and follow all the CDC protocol.

For now, and for the protection of both our valued customers and staff, FCA has implemented the following protocols:

  • For your protection we schedule only one client in the showroom at a given time.
  • All employees wear face masks. We also ask that you wear a face mask (we will provide)
  • All areas and materials are disinfected before and after your appointment.

Summary

It's obvious to all of us that many of these changes are temporary; we'll have to deal with them over the short term. Others, however, are permanent. All of us have had our routines and lives disrupted. Many dealers will fail because they won't have the staying power. Let's be leaders and do our best to work together to get through the next 18 months. You can count on FCA Network to work hard every day to serve you and keep your trust.  Should you have any questions or advice to share, feel free to contact any of us at any time.

 

Stay well and good luck,

 

Bob Hill  bhill@fcainc.com April 8, 2020

 


 

For State-by-state Status of COVID-19:

OHSA: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19:

Resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: