In three weeks, 101 recorded U.S. cases of COVID-19 ballooned to more than 33,000. As of April 13, the country has more than 557,000 confirmed cases—more than any other single country. Streets are empty, businesses are closed. People can’t go to work, or congregate too closely. One in five Americans have been ordered to stay home, according to reporting from The New York Times. Goldman Sachs projects the country’s GDP will drop 24% next quarter as a result. That would be the worst GDP drop in U.S. history, by a lot.
The outbreak’s impact on everyday normalcy in the U.S. is unprecedented, as is it’s impact on the remodeling industry. There’s no guide for how to navigate a remodeling business through a global pandemic the scale that we’re experiencing. With that in mind, we’ve reached out to a number of remodelers and industry organizations to get a better understanding of how COVID-19 has impacted their markets and how they’re responding as a result.
We will be publishing their responses in a series of posts that will extend the length of the crisis, however long that proves to be.
Abby Windows & Exteriors
Responses come from Abby Binder, owner of Abby Windows & Exteriors.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
Remodeling is considered essential in Wisconsin. We are doing installs, maintaining cash flow. To limit interactions, our Product Specialists are doing virtual estimates via FaceTime or Zoom. We expected business to slow, but appointments are still coming through. On average, we’re seeing three to four appointment requests come Monday through Friday, and recently an influx on Saturday’s due to success with WISN’s Home Remodeling Show. This is approximately a 35-40% drop compared to past “busy” seasons. Still, we haven’t extended our credit. I’ve run a debt free company and always intend to. I have a rainy day fund, just for times like these.
Are you doing any marketing at the moment?
I do a radio show on Saturdays. The day I told the audience we’re doing virtual appointments, before I even got off the air, we had six leads. It’s a nice refresher talk about something other than the virus. It has been an effective strategy to stay positive and stay focused on what’s important. Business continues to trickle in. Our doors will stay open, because I am dedicated to helping anyone in need and will give them the same attention to business as I always have.
What are the results of your virtual selling, so far?
Overall, our numbers are not what they would be with in-home consultations, but we are still connecting with customers and assessing their needs to the best of our ability, albeit through a screen. Closing at about 20% vs 40%; but again, some business is better than none. Not being able to show customer’s our products up close and personal has made establishing value difficult. Thus, we are offering lowered specials—which reduces profit margins, but I am willing to offer our customer’s some peace of mind in these uncertain times to thank them for choosing locally and continuing to have faith in ABBY Windows. We still want our customers to have the quality and warranty they deserve from a company who cares.
What are your thoughts on businesses shuttering to survive the crisis?
I think it’s a death sentence. It’s like the old saying: a business with no sign is a sign of no business. People need to know that when 2008 hit, a big thing was fear mongering. By staying positive and keeping the faith, you can keep that business going. Maintain a presence in your market and be positive. Others will follow and your customer base still needs support.