BrandSource Dealers Discuss Business Conditions

By YSN Staff

BrandSource dealers are a diverse bunch, and the business conditions they are facing during the COVID crisis are as varied as the regions they serve.

Many members took the time to complete a recent AVB survey (thank you!), and their written comments provide a snapshot of the retail landscape in mid-April. They anonymously shared their successes and setbacks, as well as their best insights on loosening the virus’s grip on commerce. In the spirit of “Better Together,” we now share their observations with you.

Business Climate

Business conditions vary widely by location and product category and appear largely dependent on the shelter-at-home rules and “essential” status within each dealer’s state. Here’s what a few members said:

  • “We have been really busy. Not as much foot traffic, but the people coming in are buying. Stimulus checks hit today, and we have been swamped.”
  • “Just as we would during any hard time, we are trying to stay as stable as we can while making adjustments to the overall business.”
  • “For the most part it’s business as usual, just more of it.”
  • “We are closed, pursuant to the Texas governor’s orders!”
  • “Our business and traffic are still very good at this point in all categories [although] furniture at the high end has slowed down.”
  • “Freezers have been our top-selling items besides refrigerators, laundry and ranges. We’re selling a few dishwashers and some bedding.”

Employee Status

BrandSource members often describe their employees as extended family, and respondents are making sacrifices to keep their staffers employed during the downturn. Here are a few of their comments:

  • “I’m paying my guys full salary, guaranteed for three weeks, even though I’m letting them off two days per week, until the shelter-at-home rule is modified or lifted.”
  • “We furloughed our employees for three weeks. They are being paid. We are planning to have them back April 20 but that will probably be for limited hours and days.”
  • “It’s not a time to push employees. Reduce their hours of work and give them full-time pay.”
  • “I have had to temporarily lay off all the employees in the furniture department, which is a big portion of my revenue and payroll. If we are able to open up the furniture department on May 4 it will be after five weeks of closure.”
  • “I have furloughed all seven employees except myself.”
  • “Taking advantage of a PPP loan/grant is a must. Other loans pending.”
  • “I am offering $2.00 per hour hazard bonus to in-home service and delivery employees and a $200 return-to-work bonus. However, if they don’t feel safe, they can collect unemployment.”

Safety Procedures

BrandSource dealers are diligent about protecting their customers and employees from coronavirus exposure. Here are some of the measures they’re taking:

  • “We are evaluating our procedures every day and have meetings with all employees every morning. We do not allow any groups of more than three people in the store, and no children under the age of 16. When a customer comes to our store for their appointment, or calls to make one, they are asked the COVID questions and are reminded about our 6-foot social distance policy.”
  • “We will continue to limit deliveries to drop-offs only.”
  • “We sanitize our trucks two or three times a day; it’s the same in the store.”

Using the Downtime

Members are taking advantage of the slower sales pace to complete unfinished or long-planned projects. Here’s a sampling of them:

  • “We’re-evaluating our business plans and cleaned up the warehouse and parts space.”
  • “During our closed days we are trying to do all the ‘when we have the time’ things. Employee training and projects are very productive during this time, as well as freshening up our sales floor and building maintenance.”
  • “We’re scanning and entering inventory in preparation for online merchandising.”

On BrandSource Membership

Many dealers thanked the group for having their backs through the crisis. These two comments best sum it up:

  • “With all the information BrandSource is providing us during the pandemic, being a member has never been more valuable. BrandSource and the AVB leadership team is doing an unbelievable job.”
  • “I appreciate all that AVB is doing to help us through this difficult time. Please keep up the ideas and the information sharing to help us out.”

Final Thought

Perhaps the most important advice we gleaned from the member survey:

  • “Stay safe and remember to laugh and smile.”

BrandSource is a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.