In our April issue, a panel of small and midsize dealers addressed their daily challenges, manufacturer relationships, why they are successful, and how they envision the future for dealers of their size. Here they identify the best decision they made during the pandemic to ensure that their dealerships would survive.
“Doubling down on our people. The pandemic and supply-chain problems have been extremely challenging for all of us. Early on, we made the decision not to lay off or furlough any of our staff. We did not know at that time if there would be any help from government programs. In a time of great uncertainty, we wanted to show our employees that we had their backs. Fortunately, we were able to work through it as a team, something we are all proud of.” Ray Belanger, president, Bay Copy, Rockland, Massachusetts
“I made two decisions that worked out extremely well for me as COVID hit so many companies in the world. One, I implemented our flat-rate billing program six years ago, which guaranteed us all of our service revenue on a monthly basis even though print volumes were gone. Secondly, social media marketing. I got the upper hand on my competition because most were laid off or went to another industry. This was huge for us!” Earl Everson, president, Elite Document Solutions, Schaumburg, Illinois
“First and foremost, at the start of the pandemic, we had our sales reps reach out to every single customer to touch base with them and ensure them that we were doing everything we could to help them and to let them know we were open to serving them with whatever needs they had. Second, we focused on the well-being of our personnel. A small business is nothing without our team, and we emphasized that to all our members. We did not furlough any employees or reduce hours or pay, and essentially this created a stable environment for everyone by making them confident that we were going to get through this. Ultimately, it made us a stronger organization. In addition, we diversified the products and services we sold, including thermometer and camera kiosks, filling the gaps that our clients needed at that point in time, creating new revenue streams.” Mallory Lopez, controller, Barlop Business Systems, Miami, Florida
“We decided as a company before this pandemic to diversify our offerings and to be able to go wider in our accounts. We also utilized every tool that was available to us during the shutdown. For example, the PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] offered us the ability to keep all our employees on our payroll and continue our operations without skipping a beat. We were told by many clients how impressed they were with the way we were handling everything during the pandemic.” Van Seretis, principal, Premium Digital Office Solutions, Parsippany, New Jersey
“When everything hit the fan, we moved very quickly to see what our best line of action was, and we decided to stay the course. Not knowing what was in store, it was a very difficult decision, but we feel it paid off in the long run. We got the PPP monies and decided not to make any changes to our staff. This one decision has made coming back much easier and built employee loyalty by allowing the staff to be home, at least in the beginning, without having to worry about where their next paycheck was going to come from. Now that we are all back in the office, we continue to be thankful for the loyalty and trust our employees put in us.” Kevin Simpson, president, Southwest Copy Systems, Albuquerque, New Mexico