Are we opening? It’s not that black and white…

Should we open or close our showrooms? It’s a difficult decision with so many conflicting factors and it can’t be made with easily, says Shehryar Khan from Sheraton Interiors in Richmond.

To open or not to open? A polarising question indeed and one with two distinct, passionate, groups of supporters.

But I believe we run the risk of simplifying this debate, surely the real question goes further than the physical opening of a door?

As a studio owner what factors should I be considering? Although we are all in this pandemic together, we are all affected in different ways, therefore we must respect this when projecting our personal views.

We know entrepreneurs are prone to anxiety, stress and even depression and for some the current changes in working conditions have been very difficult, having a huge adverse effect on their mental state.

I am sure this speaks volumes to many, we are all creatures of habit and routine.

Clearly the studio environment contributes massively to our general mental health but does this mean I should open for the purpose of self-preservation?

Unless you have huge cash reserves, I am sure complete inactively is simply not an option, and at the same time being one of the last to reopen must increase the risk to your business significantly.

So would you leave a sick person untreated? The same rule applies to your business, all the years of blood, sweat and tears and it all ends like this? Surely not.

I feel we need to take the emotion out of this. My mother is a nurse and there have been multiple deaths in her care home, she risks her life for her patients every time she enters work.

So by opening the doors are we fuelling the fire? What exactly are we achieving? Will prospects be comfortable enough to enter those doors?

I am convinced we must consider our decisions based on what is happening in the market:

  • Online purchases are up
  • People want to finish their planned projects
  • Interest in home renovation is up
  • Your competition may be opening
  • It will take time to build up momentum in your business from a marketing, sales and operations point of view

We know that we have passed the peak, we know that new cases are down, we are appartly now experiencing a downward curve – all this language must suggest it’s time to get moving.

However, I would like to stress that this is about so much more than money, for many of us our businesses are like our children. Suggestions that everyone who has stayed active or is planning to be active now is motivated by greed is absolutely absurd. If there is a ‘second wave’ it would be completely unfair to hold those most ‘active’ accountable.

We need to get back to some type of normality, we are in a unique position where we can control the traffic that comes into our showrooms.

Say there is an appointment booked at the showroom, it would play out something like this…

…The client leaves their home they travel directly to your showroom

…Your showroom has all the social distancing and safety measures in place

…You only have that one client in the showroom and maintain social distancing

…They go straight home

Let’s think about this for a moment, are we really contributing in a negative way or helping this virus spread? I am not so sure, could we be any better or worse than a walk to the local grocery store?

Let’s not underplay this, the pandemic has changed our lives forever and social distancing is not going anywhere anytime soon, so let’s focus on adapting to our new environment.

Because, sadly, failure to do so will surely be the last nail in the coffin for many. Think about the wider socio-economic picture, I have spoken with financial analysts who believe this is the worst economic tragedy since World War 2…let that sink in for a second.

The Government is spending huge sums of money which will need to be paid back, the economy has taken a real hit, the studios or anyone else going out of business is not good for the collective industry and the economy as a whole.

We need to start fighting back with a sensible, strategic approach that will not contribute to a second wave of the virus.

Is it going to be easy? No! Is it possible? Most definitely a yes from me.

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