Darren Taylor, The Searle and Taylor managing director, reflects on a year like no other he has experienced and considers how he had to adapt his business, make use of online videos and get to grips with the new language of lockdown.
Were we are, one year on. I have never experienced a global pandemic before and I’d rather not have to again.
I am a bit of a hypochondriac and I did think I had Covid a few times, but I was tested and I didn’t. At the time of writing, I am waiting for the vaccine, even though it will doubtless give me the worst side effects ever.
We have all had to adapt to survive and I have learnt a lot. I never thought in March last year that I would have to make a YouTube video about ‘how to measure your space’, but I did, and then, with the help of my daughter, we made a virtual showroom tour, which is on my website and YouTube. I love my showroom. I’ve done so many improvements to it over the past year and it looks fantastic. I want people to walk around it and be inspired. It’s heart-breaking that people haven’t been able to come inside, but at least they can see it on YouTube in the meantime. I have a beautiful new brochure and I have lots of new enquiries because of it and I have a virtual appointment page on my constantly-updated website and this is already working well.
I realise that apart from one or two suppliers and colleagues that made it to my showroom during Tier 2, I have not seen my industry mates since kbb Birmingham in March last year. This industry has some great characters in it and I have missed all the events where we meet up.
I also learned I have very unruly hair. During lockdown 1.0 I looked like one of the Hair Bear Bunch. I let my daughter cut it, who learnt to do it on YouTube.
The new lockdown dictionary
I can’t be the only person that has noticed that some of the words and sayings that we previously took for granted have massively shifted in their definition since March last year. Here are a few examples that have affected me and my business, and maybe yours as well:
Open: Formerly a sign on the door to attract visitors. In 2020, this changed to we are open, but you can’t come in. Then you could, then you couldn’t again.
By appointment: This previously meant that the Queen endorsed your products. During 2020, it was the only way to get customers into the showroom.
Virtual: This used to mean that something didn’t physically exist. For the past year, it has been the only way to meet people that do physically exist.
Zoom: Formerly a song by Fat Larry’s Band. In 2020, it became a lifeline for businesses.
Touch: Prior to 2020, this was actively encouraged in every kitchen showroom. Since 2020, it has been followed by a rapid wipe-down with an antiviral spray.
Space: Formerly the final frontier. Now it is two metres.
Working from home: Formerly a standard excuse if you had a terrible hangover and couldn’t get into the office. During 2020, it was the only way the country managed to survive.
Brusque: Formerly ‘an abrupt form of speech or manner’. Now, it is the type of response you receive when you send a letter to Trading Standards asking why you can’t be open when other kitchen retailers can because they have a trade counter.
Trade counter: An alternative type of kitchen showroom that no premium retailers knew about before. This is one that people can visit every day of the year.
Essential retail: A shop that is allowed to remain open as it serves up goods that are deemed essential, without any care or thought as to whether the type of retailer is actually Covid-safe.
Apology: Previously a way to say sorry. Now it comes as a rebate.
Traffic lights: Formerly to make cars stop and manage traffic flow. Now a way to work out what appliances are available at any given time.
Fag packet: Was a slang term for a cigarette pack. During 2020, the back of it was used to write a vast amount of government policy, in my view.
Home schooling: Previously this was what your children would ask for on the days they didn’t fancy going to school. They don’t ask anymore, because they are sick of the sight of you.