Comments, Strategies Mirror Industry Reaction to Coronavirus

EVANSTON, IL — Design firm owners and employees are finding constructive ways to utilize their time if they’ve temporarily closed their showroom or have projects on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an online poll conducted by Kitchen & Bath Design News, 41% of the kitchen/bath dealers, designers and remodeling firms surveyed say they’re working on better organizing their business, while 35% say they’re working on strategic planning for the future and a similar number say they’re working on developing marketing strategies for when business conditions improve.

About 32% say they’re spending time researching new products and/or business practices. A similar number report that they’re ramping up social media efforts, email blasts or other communications, while 24% say they’re investing time in online training and/or improving their skills or the skills of their staff.

What follows is a sampling of the comments KBDN has received regarding the impact the coronavirus outbreak is having on the kitchen and bath design trade:

“Our employees are on a modified work schedule (no more than four persons allowed in the office per day and the remainder work from home). Paid sick leave is still enforced, with employees working from home when sick policy has been eliminated temporarily. Those who have traveled in the past two weeks are not allowed to come to the office for seven days after they return, while monitoring their health. Phone systems have been forwarded. Vendor meetings are being held via GoTo or Facetime. Interviews are being handled via Skype.”

“We encourage remote work, we are limiting personnel interaction, we are strictly enforcing sick/social distancing policies for our employees, as well as our customers. We have a small firm, with five employees, two of whom already work remotely. We do projects out of state, and even out of the country, so we already have a streamlined process of communication with clients and employees that we can conduct virtually. We have felt prepared to work with clients via video conferencing and by other means during this difficult time. We have taken extra precautions of sanitation through the office and have been aware that our employees have children home from school and have other concerns going on in their personal life. All we can do as a company is be flexible, caring and understanding of one another. We have done all that we can to make sure both our employees and clients feel safe in this uncertain time.”

“We have asked our subcontractors to put their health and safety and those around them as a number one priority and to abstain from work if they feel ill or may have been exposed to anyone who has or may have contracted the virus. We are fortunate at this time to have projects where the homeowners are not living in the house and each trade can work solo on the project site which minimizes the opportunity for sharing the virus.”

“We are monitoring the health of our associates, and working though issues regarding paid sick leave, working remotely, mandatory quarantines and the like.”

“As a design firm, we are filled with concern, worry and uncertainty for the future. We believe COVID-19 will have a negative impact on the kitchen and bath trade and manufacturers alike, as well as small design firms like ours. The drops in revenue and customers will be inevitable. People are frightened and don’t feel comfortable spending extra money right now. We’ve already had clients put remodels on hold [and] already had them wait to pay design fees. The design industry must stay together during this time and support each other so we can all get through to the other side.”

“We have been adhering to the recommended CDC guidelines in terms of cleanliness and handling of our facilities. Social distancing is in place. We’re keeping a close eye on the situation and are given hourly and/or daily updates as it pertains to our region and community.”

“I think this will change the way business is done, good and bad. I expect more virtual meetings and things of that nature to continue. I expect Q2 to be much lower than normal, and hopefully things will bounce back by Q3.”

“I think that design firms such as ours that have invested in high-rent showrooms will be really struggling to catch up. Any firms that don’t have significant funds in reserve may go out of business.”

“So far, we have not made any changes. We are a small business with each employee working in separate spaces, so it is easy to stay distant from each other. We’re hoping to continue working through this crisis.”

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