‘Constant contact’ key to survival, say retailers

Despite the potential effect of the coronavirus on KBB businesses, the industry is pulling together and doing whatever it takes to limit the damage. Retailers are adapting and navigating through the situation by introducing everything from utilising technology to changing business procedures.

One answer in dealing with customers who are self-isolating, or not comfortable with visiting showrooms in person, has been to offer options that mean face-to-face contact in not necessarily needed – this includes digital ‘virtual’ meetings.

Ian Sandford from Danby Interiors and 4 Seasons Kitchens in Leeds said: “We have already encouraged contact by FaceTime, phone calls, and e-mail wherever possible.”

Other retailers are using the decrease in consumer interest and any extra time available to do other tasks. “As long as fitters are fitting and suppliers are delivering, we will be here,” said Jane Ive from Bathroom Design Studio in Harrogate. “The lesser footfall means we can catch up on some business housekeeping.”

The pandemic has created an ever-changing situation and has led to government guidelines being issued and reissued. Through this, retailers have been sticking to customer service best practice and communicating with customers. “We have released a statement on our website and social media to reassure customers who have already entered into an agreement with us and also to let people know that the showroom is open as usual,” said Emma Mcloughlin from Regal Kitchens in Chelmsford.

Another way retailers have adapted is to work with staff to ensure the people and the business is not at risk of spreading the virus. Sandford has made changes to standard company procedures. “As a precaution, I instigated a shift system with our small team, to avoid everyone being in the office at the same time,” he said. “Anyone that can work from home is doing so and only coming in for a presentation, at a distance, and attending site measures only. We can survive on a skeleton staff, but not if everyone goes down with a virus at the same time.”

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