Tips to keep your shop running running during COVID-19
The wrap and graphics industry, like so many others, is being directly affected by the current global pandemic. We have already begun to hear stories of accounts drying up, entire projects being canceled with zero notice and shops completely shutting down. Here at Wrapper Mapper we hope that you are actively taking steps to survive the gathering storm regardless of where you are on the planet.
With planning in mind we reached out to some respected wrap industry professionals with a request to provide some information that may help you get through our current crisis. Charlie & Jillian Trujillo with LE Wraps (Lettering Express) located in Oklahoma City, OK USA along with Jim & Starla Miller with Miller Decals located in Atlanta, GA USA were kind enough to share some tips, tricks and words of wisdom…
“First things first – protect your family, business and team. Without family none of this is worthwhile.
We here at LE have a team of 26 folks and our priority this moment in time is keeping those people safe and employed. My worry is that the country will go on a major lock down and we’ll have to close our doors for an extended period of time. Now is the time to grind and to stay on top of the daily calls, emails, quotes, etc.
Just like everyone else in the world we are taking these extra steps to ensure our clients and staff are safe. Our design team is working from home and the folks working in house are constantly sanitizing, wearing gloves and keeping their distance from one another, as well as our clients. Any sign of cough or sickness means you are sent home immediately. This requires everyone to be honest and trustworthy on the subject. We are not taking any chances.
It’s time to get creative when it comes to sales. Fortunately we were a sign shop that evolved into a wrap company. While making signs and little stickers aren’t always our favorite projects, sales are sales and we want to continue helping other companies anyway possible. Personally, I am leaning on those small local businesses during this crisis. From what I can tell these folks are still spending money, but how long will this last? That is a question I cannot answer and I am completely uncertain what the future holds. These are not major sales, but if the folks are calling in need of DOT numbers or “Joe’s Plumbing” decals, get them squared away ASAP. The response I have seen the past few weeks is, “So happy you guys are still open and willing to work!” At minimum you are making them happy and possibly creating a relationship for life.
Take this time to handle those internal projects that you have not had the opportunity to manage with the busy daily flow. We are finalizing internal work such as a mural, wayfinding signs, deep shop clean, pamphlets and other literature that will help us grow our business after this madness ends.
Being transparent with your staff is crucial as well. Don’t let them live with the uncertainty of what the future holds. Daily updates are huge. Have a plan for that “what if” moment. Make sure you know your next move and communicate that with your team. This will help ease the elephant in the room.
Lastly stay positive, wash your hands and support your local small businesses anyway you can.
Sending love from OKC
Charlie and Jillian Trujillo”
“It is very stressful, but we are managing it.
We are typically out 2 weeks or more for jobs. Since they shut down the NCAA Final Four last week, it has been a waterfall of cancellations. The schools went on Digital Learning Days this on March 16th, so now everyone’s children are home. The stores are wiped out of alcohol, paper towels, toilet paper, bread, etc. We are wiping all shop door handles and surfaces daily with Lysol wipes. Companies are saying they can’t write checks and get them out because the offices are shut down and no one is there to sign them, so cash flow from accounts receivable is questionable at this point. We accept credit cards which are charged a fee to process, but we will take what we can get.
Today I will be trying to figure out Georgia Department of Labor Unemployment filing for the Emergency Rule 300-2-4-0.5, containing Rule 300-2.4-.09(1) Partial Unemployment Amendment that was adopted on March 16th, 2020. This will enable my employees to continue receiving paychecks through the unemployment system once our jobs are exhausted. I am attending an online conference through Chase for Business today at 2:30PM that will discuss the COVID-19 escalating and how to position myself during crisis. We held an employee meeting yesterday to discuss concerns and talk about our plans for the rest of this week. We will meet again on Friday to make a plan for the following week. At this point, it is definitely one day at a time.
This week so far we have completed a Toyota Prius, Ford C-Max, 4 Ford Transits, a Box Truck, a 24′ and 28′ trailer, finished up a color change as well as a repair to replace a fender on a color change. That was already scheduled two weeks ago, before the chaos started. I have a feeling this is going to stop abruptly, so we are doing all we can to complete things and get them back to the customers. Our business is not a ‘work from home’ setting in any way, so this virus is serious to our livelihood. My heart aches for everyone in our wrap community faced with the responsibility of running a small business. It can be overwhelming at times, and this is one of those. We will survive and come out stronger and more educated in the end. Once the silence sets in I will be hard at work fine tuning the business. Time to sort through the ‘start, stop and keep’ items, make lists and set goals for the future.
Best wishes and stay positive!
Jim & Starla Miller”
Our best wishes and thoughts go out to the entire #wrapfamily during these trying times. Yes, it’s tough but we will survive by being smart and continuing to work hard. We are a community of hands-on people. We love the satisfaction that comes from building and growing and creating. We are innovators. We are stubborn and tenacious business owners who focus on solving problem for our clients every day. We can do this!